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Roger Goodell voluntarily accepting no pay, other NFL employees face furloughs, cuts amid COVID-19 pandemic

In this May 22, 2019, file photo, NFL

In this May 22, 2019, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during the NFL football owners meeting in Key Biscayne, Fla.  Credit: AP/Brynn Anderson

Commissioner Roger Goodell has volunteered to work for free in 2020, but other NFL employees will be taking mandatory pay cuts or furloughs as the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic have reached the country’s most profitable professional sport.

When he met with the league’s competition committee last month, Goodell asked that his pay, which is approximately $40 million annually, including bonuses, be reduced to $0, a source confirmed. That request was approved. It was not enough, though, to prevent slashes to other employees that were announced in a memo from Goodell to staffers on Wednesday.

The memo said that “individuals in our workforce who are unable to substantially perform their duties from home and/or whose current workload has been significantly reduced” will be furloughed. 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.

Goodell 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 wrote.

Pension plan and other contributions also are being reduced from 15% to 10% of eligible compensation, a permanent change that will take effect on July 1.

Goodell also encouraged employees to “continue to identify ways of operating more efficiently and reducing costs” with the hope that such measures can reduce the need for the furloughs and reductions.

While league employees feel that pinch, those who work for the two New York-area teams have so far eluded it. Neither the Giants nor Jets have implemented salary reductions or furloughs for their staffs.

Goodell’s cost-cutting memo was distributed four days after the NFL completed its virtual draft, which was widely praised. . After the last picks were made on Saturday, Goodell, who hosted the broadcast of the process from his basement, sent a note to those involved in its production. “I’m not sure in our 100-year history we’ve had a finer moment,” he wrote. “I’ve never been more proud of our people.”

The giddiness of that victory wore off quickly, though.

“These decisions were difficult and we know these measures will cause hardship for those impacted,” Goodell wrote in the Wednesday memo. “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.”

With Al Iannazzone

New York Sports