Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Interests of the Goodell family range far beyond the NFL

Charles E. Goodell, patriarch of the Goodell family, in January 1970
Bill Peters | The Denver Post | Getty Images

Super Bowl XLVIII, between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, is coming to New York on Feb. 2—the year's biggest entertainment event, in the country's largest media market.

At the center is Roger Goodell, who has helped solidify football's place as a cultural juggernaut since becoming commissioner of the National Football League in 2006. His story is well-known. A jock who attended Washington & Jefferson College, he joined the NFL in 1982 as an administrative intern and worked his way to the top.

But few are aware that he comes from a family that includes a maverick U.S. senator, the chief operating officer of a major hedge fund firm and the general counsel of a Fortune 100 company.

Roger Goodell
Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The most famous Goodell is Roger's father, Charles. He gained national prominence as a Republican U.S. senator in the late 1960s, when he challenged President Richard Nixon on the Vietnam War.

Charles Goodell started in national politics as a U.S. representative from Jamestown, in western New York. He left the House in 1968, when he was appointed to the Senate to replace Robert F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated.

He was attacked by members of his own party—Vice President Spiro Agnew called him a ''radical liberal''—for his views on civil and women's rights and the war. That lack of favor from within the GOP may have contributed to Goodell's loss of his Senate seat in 1970.

Charles practiced law for two years after leaving Congress, and then became chairman of DGA International, a lobbying firm. He died in 1987 at the age of 60.

Bill Goodell
Source: Managed Funds Association

Law runs in part of the Goodell family. Charles went to Yale Law School and practiced before becoming a politician, and two of his sons have become successful lawyers.

Bill Goodell, the oldest in the family of five boys, is chief operating officer of Maverick Capital, Lee Ainslie's $9 billion hedge fund firm. He previously was with hedge fund legend Julian Robertson, as general counsel of Tiger Management.

During his roughly 10 years at Tiger, Goodell worked with the "Tiger Cubs," alumni—including Chase Coleman, Andreas Halvorsen, John Griffin, Steve Mandel and Chris Shumway—who left to launch their own funds.

Like his father, Bill Goodell has dabbled in politics and political influence. In 2012 and 2013, he was chairman of the Managed Funds Association, the top hedge fund lobbying group; he's still on the executive committee. He is also co-chair of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, the lobbying arm of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Bill said that his father taught him about the business of lobbying.

"You should never be afraid to walk away from a client—you need to keep your reputation," he said in an interview with "That's a corollary to my dad's life. He was prepared to stand up for what he believed in and take heat for it."

Tim Goodell
Source: Hess

Tim Goodell, also a lawyer, is senior vice president and general counsel of Hess. He helped the oil company defend itself against activist investor Paul Singer and his hedge fund firm, Elliott Management. The battle was resolved last May after an all-night negotiation and hours before Hess' annual investor meeting, with the company taking on nine new board members, including three picked by Elliott.

Michael Goodell
Source: Michael Goodell | Facebook

The second-youngest brother, Michael Goodell, is a Pilates instructor in the Los Angeles area. His longtime partner, Jack Kenny, is a Hollywood writer and producer known for creating the short-lived NBC series "The Book of Daniel," a controversial show loosely inspired by the Goodell family.

The youngest brother, Jeff Goodell, was most recently head of the upper school at Saint Mary's Hall in San Antonio, Texas. He now lives in Portland, Maine, with his family.

"I'm very proud of all them." Bill Goodell said of the clan. "We're all very close knit today."

The business of gaining NFL viewers

Roger's big role in football doesn't mean that all the Goodells will be together in a luxury suite at the big game. Despite the expected cold temperatures, Roger plans to watch the game outside with his family. Bill will watch from San Francisco because he needs to be at a board meeting for the Environmental Defense Action Fund on Tuesday.

Bill's oldest daughter, 25-year-old Jackie Goodell, is helping coordinate events as a planning and logistics manager for the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Co.

After all, it's in the family.

"When I was little, my dad and uncles would ask me what the best sport in the world was and if I answered football I got an M&M," Jackie said in a recent online job profile. "[I'm] basically brainwashed."

—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne. Follow him on Twitter @ldelevingne.