NFL commissioner to take dollar salary if player talks fail

Steve Henn Jan 27, 2011
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NFL commissioner to take dollar salary if player talks fail

Steve Henn Jan 27, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s putting his money where his mouth is. Goodell has promised to take a pay cut from $10 million a year down to a single buck, if the negotiations the league’s in the middle of now with the player’s association fail and there’s a work stoppage later this spring.

Goodell thus joins the long list of top executives who’ve volunteered to work on the cheap. Marketplace’s Steve Henn has more.


Steve Henn: The idea of taking just $1 a year in salary has a long history. It goes back to the World Wars, when captains of industry volunteered to help re-tool the American economy for war.

Vintage newsreel: To fight this war, 10 million more people must go to work by the end of 1943.

It was illegal for the U.S. government to pay these industrialists absolutely nothing, so they accepted just $1 a year. Then in the late 70s, Lee Iaccoca brought this concept to Chrysler which was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Lee Iaccoca: I have one and only one ambition for Chrysler: To be the best. What else is there?

Turns out, a lot. By 1986, Iacocca had turned Chrysler around. And that year, he took home more than $20 million in stock options, becoming America’s highest-paid CEO. David Cay Johnston says in the early ’90s, changes to U.S. tax law made performance-based compensation plans even more popular in corner offices.

David Cay Johnston: Congress passed a law that said you couldn’t deduct an executive’s base salary of more than $1 million, but you could deduct unlimited amounts of money paid for performance.

So today for many CEOs, their base salary has become as insignificant as a rounding error. Members of the dollar-a-year club include billionaires like Apple’s Steve Jobs, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Larry Page.

So no matter what happens with the looming strike at the NFL, the league’s commissioner Roger Goodell is probably betting on a big bonus someday down the line.

In Silicon Valley, I’m Steve Henn for Marektplace.


Ryssdal: The dollar-a-year salary club is bigger than you think. Check out our list.

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