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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was slated to make up to $40 million this year, decided to slash his salary to $0 as America's most popular and profitable sports league deals with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The news of Goodell's pay cut coincided with an internal league memo, obtained by NPR, in which he announced executive pay reductions and furloughs of league employees.
In the memo, which was sent to the NFL league office staff in New York, NFL Films and NFL Network on Wednesday, Goodell warned that the pandemic's economic effects "will be deeper and longer lasting than anyone anticipated."
The pay cuts show that even the NFL, which generated more than $15 billion during the 2018 season, is not immune to the economic consequences of a global pandemic.
"Last month the Commissioner requested that he voluntarily reduce his salary to $0, which went into effect earlier this month," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed in an email to NPR.
Over the past six weeks, the league has made several adjustments to deal with the reality of stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines and business closures across the United States. The NFL canceled its annual meeting, closed its league office along with all club facilities and prohibited virtually all travel.
It even turned one of its marquee events, the annual NFL draft, into a virtual affair. The result was a new ratings record with more than 55 million viewers over three days.
But the continued uncertainty over the duration of the crisis is forcing the league to cut costs further. Starting on May 22, the NFL will implement tiered reductions in base salary for managers and executives making more than $100,000. The reductions will range from 5% to 15%, depending on the employee's position.
League employees who can't do their work from home and those whose workload has seen a drastic reduction will be furloughed starting May 8. Goodell pointed out in the memo that a furlough is not a termination and that the league will continue to pay the medical benefits of those workers during the furlough period.
In addition, the league will permanently reduce its pension contributions from 15% to 10% starting July 1.
"While we continue to prepare for a full 2020 season of NFL football, we also need to manage in a responsible way, adopting a flexible approach that responds to the current conditions in a way that minimizes the risk to our employees, our clubs, and the NFL's business," Goodell wrote in the memo.
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