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NFL's Roger Goodell--He's Earned His Pay

Roger Goodell
AP
Roger Goodell

The SportsBusinessJournal reported this week that the NFL's tax filing revealed that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earned $6.5 million in his first seven months as commissioner from Sept. 2006 to April 2007. That would give Goodell a prorated salary of $11.2 million annually.

Sports compensation consultant Stephen Unger told the publication: "I'm not shocked by (the number), but I am a bit surprised."

I'm not. Not in the least.

Last September, Forbes Magazine valued all 32 NFL teams at a total value of $30.6 billion. Knowing that the team values would presumably factor in everything, including the value of NFL.com, NFL Properties, NFL Films and the NFL Network, we're going to call that the league's market cap. That makes the NFL the equivalent of Nike or Lehman Brothers.

There are several ways to look at this and you don't come up with a clear answer since pay packages are subjective, but at least it provides some perspective.

First, let's go over the compensation of the top executives at companies whose market cap is in the presumed NFL market cap range. As you can see from these examples, Goodell is in line.

Executive Company Market Cap Compensation

Richard Fuld Jr. Lehman Bros. $29.8B $51.5M

John Hess Hess Corp. $31.6B $19.9M

Roger Goodell NFL $30.6B* $11.2M

Mark Parker Nike $29.8B $10.8M

Patricia Woertz Archer Daniels $29.4B $2.7M

*estimated

Now, let's take a look at people who made in Goodell's range (from Forbes' CEO compensation list published last May and compare it with their market current cap.) As you can see, there are plenty of people making Goodell's salary who are managing businesses that have a lower value than the NFL does.

Executive Company Market Cap Compensation

Robert Keegan Goodyear $6.6B $11.5M

W. Douglas Parker US Airways $1.3B $11.3M

James Dolan Cablevision $8.0B $11.3M

Robert Moody American Nat'l Ins. $3.1B $11.2M

Finally, let's look at where Goodell would fit, in terms of 2007 salary, if he were an NFL player. He'd actually fall as the 25th most expensive player in the league, making $19.5 million less that Dwight Freeney (#1) and $6.3 million less Mark Bulger--who threw for more interceptions than touchdowns. Other players who made more than Goodell? Green Bay linebackers Nick Barnett ($11.5M) and A.J. Hawk ($12.2M). Those guys had a good year, but between the Patriots and Michael Vick, Goodell is much more important to the NFL brand.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com