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Wednesday's NFL: Roger Goodell reduces salary to $0, league workers taking pay cuts

Barry Wilner
Associated Press

Commissioner Roger Goodell has reduced his salary to $0 and other NFL employees will be taking pay cuts or furloughs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Goodell, who makes upward of $30 million a year from salaries and bonuses, voluntarily had his salary reduced this month, a person familiar with the move tells The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the NFL has not announced the move publicly.

The league also is implementing tiered reductions in base salary, beginning with the pay period ending May 22. The reduction will be 5% for workers up to the manager’s level, 7% for directors, 10% for vice presidents, 12% for senior vice presidents, and 15% for executive vice presidents.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

In a memo sent to league office staffers, Goodell also said no employee earning a base salary of less than $100,000 will be affected by these reductions, and no employee’s salary will be reduced below $100,000 by the reductions.

“We hope that business conditions will improve and permit salaries to be returned to their current levels, although we do not know when that will be possible,” Goodell said.

While the NFL has gone about business as usual with free agency and the draft — and currently is planning to play a full season beginning in September — it clearly is feeling the same economic pinch as other sports. Even as it extended its streaming deal with Amazon Prime for Thursday night games for another three years on Wednesday, the league was making in-house financial adjustments.

That means furloughs and adjustments to pension plans.

The furlough program “for individuals in our workforce who are unable to substantially perform their duties from home and/or whose current workload has been significantly reduced,” Goodell wrote, will become effective May 8.

Those being furloughed will be alerted in the next few days, and they will keep medical, dental and vision benefits, with the league paying the full cost of maintaining those benefits.

“It is important to remember that a furlough is not a termination,” Goodell told league staffers. “We do not know how long a furlough will last, but we are hopeful that we will be able to return furloughed employees back to work within a few months.”

Pension plan and other contributions will be reduced from 15% to 10% of eligible compensation and is a permanent change which takes effect on July 1.

“The NFL is not immune to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is our obligation to take responsible steps to protect the business and manage through this crisis as effectively as possible,” Goodell wrote.

“These decisions were difficult and we know these measures will cause hardship for those impacted. I encourage everyone to continue to identify ways of operating more efficiently and reducing costs. If we do that, I believe that furloughs and compensation reductions can be limited, or in time even reversed.

“I assure you that we will continue to monitor economic conditions, communicate with you promptly and openly — whether the news is good or bad — and have your interests in mind as decisions are made going forward.”

The NFL plans to release its regular-season schedule around the second week in May, and currently is allowing virtual workouts coordinated by teams. It has an owners meeting scheduled for the Los Angeles area in late May that likely will become a video conference instead.

Training camps wouldn’t open before the end of July. The first major event of the summer would be the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on Aug. 6 and inductions on Aug. 8. All of those, of course, must be considered tentative at this time.

Amazon deal renewed

The NFL has renewed its streaming deal with Amazon for Thursday night games for three years.

Amazon Prime Video and Twitch also will have exclusive streaming rights to one additional regular-season game in 2020.

Amazon Prime Video and Twitch will stream 11 Thursday night games broadcast by Fox, giving access to more than 150 million paid Prime members.

The regular-season weekend game streamed on those outlets will be played on a Saturday in the second half of the schedule. That game will be made available on free television in participating teams’ markets.

On Prime Video, members can choose to watch the Fox broadcast, the Fox Deportes Spanish-language coverage, and from exclusive alternative audio options.

The NFL and Amazon first partnered on Thursday night games during the 2017 season.

Extra points

As part of the All-In Challenge to raise money for coronavirus relief, the new Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady donated a package that includes tickets for four to his first Bucs home game, his game jersey and cleats from that game, and a postgame dinner or workout with Brady.

The package raised a whopping $800,000, the most of any item that’s concluded in the auction. The starting bid was $50,000, and it received 32 bids.

All of the proceeds from the auction will go directly to Feeding America, Meals On Wheels, World Central Kitchen and No Kid Hungry.

... The Ravens exercised the fifth-year option on All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey, keeping him under contract through 2021.

... The Falcons declined the fifth-year option with defensive end Takk McKinley for 2021 “at this time.” McKinley, a first-round pick in 2017, has 16.5 sacks through three seasons.

... The Cowboys agreed to terms with veteran cornerback Daryl Worley on a free-agent deal after the team selected two cornerbacks in last week’s NFL Draft.

... The Bills signed defensive end Bryan Cox Jr., whose father never hid his dislike for Buffalo during his days playing for the AFC rival Miami Dolphins in the 1990s.