In what is clearly the greatest and most generous news of all time, it has been reported that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not be taking a salary for himself while the league is shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He is reported to make a salary between $4 and $5 million, however, and his total compensation is around $40 million. For a billion-dollar industry, this is far more of a token gesture than anything else. An even greater gesture would have been not to cut back on the salaries of lower workers and furlough those whose jobs are essentially frozen.
But, oh, did I forget to mention that that is happening too? Starting next week, all league staffers who make at least $100,000 a year will receive a salary reduction of some kind, up to 15 percent, though not a reduction that would put them below $100,000. Others will be furloughed.
All of this comes, of course, at a time when nothing much is going to be happening even during a normal year. The league waited until after they put in all the work to carry out free agency and the draft, only to let people go when they would be having an easier period of their job, which may not be dramatically different from normal years—or to reduce their salaries, at least.
It is notable that, at least for those whose jobs are not getting furloughed, this does not apply to those making under $100,000, which is a nice salary that I’m sure the majority of us would be quite pleased to make. We’re not talking about people making $25,000 a year here. Still, even that salary, in certain regions of the country, could make it difficult to survive on.
It remains unclear how significantly the coronavirus is going to affect the 2020 season for the NFL. It’s abundantly apparent that they still have every intention of forging on with the season, ideally without delay, but it’s already more or less conceded that OTAs and minicamp will not take place.
They are still hoping out hope that teams will be able to report to their teams in time for training camps, opening in late July, which is about three months from now. That feels like a long time away, but it’s hard to predict what will happen during that time.
In the interim, they will be making plans for how to have a season under adverse circumstances, the same thing all other leagues, which have had to pause their active seasons, are currently doing, whether it’s holding games without fans or having teams play in one central location.