The fight over Roger Goodell’s contract ended placidly Wednesday afternoon, when the 58-year-old NFL commissioner signed a contract extension through March 2024.
Arthur Blank, the chairman of the league’s six-owner Compensation Committee confirmed the signing to The MMQB, saying he and Goodell each signed the deal Wednesday afternoon, after a final snag—which he would not disclose—was overcome Tuesday night.
“I’m feeling relieved now,” Blank, the owner of the Falcons, said in an interview from Atlanta. “I’m happy that it’s over. I was just telling Roger that in the history of the NFL, I’m not sure a big decision has been so transparent as this one. We got a lot of input from a lot of owners, a lot of guidance from them, and we feel very good about what developed out of that.”
The news of the extension was first reported Pro Football Talk.
Blank said he spoke to the chief and vocal opponent of the deal, Dallas owner Jerry Jones, twice in the past few days, including Tuesday night. Jones had threatened to sue the owners last month because he was opposed to the tenor of the negotiations with Goodell and to extending him with a year-and-a-half left on his contract when there were so many contentious issues buffeting the league. Blank said Jones “understands the contract and how we got here,” and said Jones would be presenting some proposals on league matters important to him soon. There is a league meeting in Dallas next week. Pragmatist that he is, Jones could use that meeting to smooth over some of the rough feelings left by him going rogue in these negotiations and making some sensitive internal committee details public. In the end, it’s clear Jones still harbored resentment over the rush to extend Goodell for the next six-plus years.
The deal got done in the last six days. Each of the six members of the Compensation Committee divided up the owners. The six members spoke to the other 26 owners; Some owners had more than one conversation with their peers. Blank took Jones. One owners said he had heard Blank told Jones late last week, in effect: You’ve been an incredibly valuable owner in this league for more than 25 years. The league needs you. It’s better to help the league from within than from the outside. Jones had argued the committee wasn’t transparent enough. But Blank said each of the 26 owners not on the committee had been called at least five times over the last year to be briefed on the state of the negotiations and asked for their input.
“One thing that’s come out of this that’s very good, I believe, is the fact that owners are going to have a much more open line of communication with Roger now,” said Blank. “At every owners’ meeting now, we’re going to have an owners-only session, and then an owners session with Roger, with everyone else out of the room. The owners asked for that contact, and it’s a reasonable thing to ask. We’re going to do it.”
Blank believes the wounds with Jones will be healed, but he said it was “disappointing” that Jones was so public in his break with the other owners.
“What many owners said in the past few days was they wanted to get on with the business of the league, and there are a lot of issues very important right now that must be addressed,” Blank said. Those include sagging TV ratings, the issue of players not standing for the national anthem, and no-shows and attendance. “Now we’ll get to focus on the real issues. The important thing is, the owners have confidence in Roger, and they wanted him to continue. There was no doubt about that.”
Thirty-one, apparently, did. We’ll see if Jones comes back to the group beginning next week at the Dallas meetings.
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