NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earned $145 million over the past four years, or $65 million more than the highest-paid player in the league during that time, Drew Brees. Critics have called for Goodell’s scalp for the way he has handled recent scandals involving Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice. But Goodell has delivered tremendously for the constituency that signs his checks: NFL owners.
NFL franchises make up 27 of the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world, including the Dallas Cowboys, who rank first with a value of $4 billion, up 25%. It is the first time a non-soccer club has reigned as the most valuable team since 2011 (the first year Forbes compiled a top 50 list). Manchester United held the crown in 2011 and 2012 and Real Madrid the last three years.
Jerry Jones paid $150 million for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. His club is now the most valuable sports team in the world at $4 billion. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Goodell heads the most powerful and lucrative sports league in the world, and he’s leveraged that power with broadcast TV contracts that are the envy of every other league. Take the NFL’s Thursday night TV package: CBS and NBC agreed in February to pay a total of $900 million for the rights to ten games apiece over the next two years.
The networks didn’t even get exclusive rights as the games will be simulcast on the NFL Network—owned by the league’s owners—and digitally streamed over Twitter in an attempt to reach cord-cutters. The “tri-cast” system means the NFL will generate revenue from rights fees, affiliate fees and advertising for every game.