Roger Goodell & David Stern – Two Commissioners Going Out On Top?
Top of Their Games: Ranking the Highest-Paid Sports Commissioners
When they’re in the news, it probably means something has gone wrong. When they’re not shaking hands with new draft picks or in the stands watching games, sports commissioners are juggling disciplinary issues, financial concerns, rabid fan bases and hard-headed players. In an age when fans demand that their favorite sports punish players who use performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), each major sports commissioners is trying to avoid the next Lance Armstrong scandal.
A common trait of these league commissioners: thick skin. From Roger Goddell’s safety mandates to Gary Bettman’s lockout fiasco, these NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and Golf commissioners are consistently under fire from fans, players and media. A difficult job? Certainly. But along the prestige of running some of America’s most beloved entertainment organizations, these commissions collect handsome salaries.
1. Roger Goddell
According to Sportsillustrated.com, the NFL commissioner hauled in a cool $29.49 million in 2012. It’s easy to see why he tops the lists. Not only is the NFL the most popular league in the United States, according to research firm Harris Interactive, Goddell is consistently involved in a conflict. From collective bargaining agreements to fines for flagrant penalties, Goddell doesn’t need an army to fight for his cause. With rising ticket sales and cable TV resources, don’t expect Goddell to take a pay cut any time soon.
2. Bud Selig
MLB commissioner since 1992, Bud Selig was at the helm for the power-hitting boom that led to record-breaking seasons from Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds and the subsequent revelations of rampant use of PEDs. Despite sitting on an extremely hot seat throughout the scandal, Selig answered his doubters and developed a strict PED policy that has caught and punished dozens of players. According to USAtoday.com, Selig recently signed a two-year extension that pays up to $25 million annually.
3. David Stern
Set to step down in 2014, David Stern is the longest-tenured commissioner in major professional sports history. Only a few know Stern’s exact salary, but according to Yahoo.com, several owners believe it’s in the ballpark of $20 million to $23 million. Stern is known as a ferocious negotiator, and during his tenure, the NBA has locked out its players four times. Still, with the help of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, Stern has guided the NBA to new levels of popularity.
4. Gary Bettman
Gary Bettman doesn’t block pucks, kill power plays or win face-offs, but with salary $7.98 million, he would be the fifth highest-paid player in the NHL. Currently, the NHL is competing in an shortened 42-game season as a result of the third lockout since Bettman became commissioner. The 2004-05 lockout resulted in the cancelation of an entire season, but the NHL bounced back to post record profits, according to CBC.ca.
5. Tim Finchem
After the United States Golfing Association (USGA) announced that it would ban anchored putters, experts expected corresponding organizations to fall in line. Tim Finchem, commissioner of the PGA Tour, had other ideas. Finchem expressed his opposition to the proposed ban, garnering praise from numerous PGA Tour players. A fearless attitude is part of the reason Finchem recently earned an extension through 2016, according to Bloomberg.com. In 2009, Finchem earned $4.7 million in salary and benefits.