NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made $44.2 million in 2012, according to tax returns the league has submitted.
Goodell earned $35.1 million in salary, bonus and pension compensation. Based on IRS reporting guidelines, his total 2012 compensation includes a $5 million incentive payment and a $4.1 million pension payment from the 2011 lockout year that was paid in 2012.
The league's revenues have approached $10 billion and its TV ratings dominate all other programming.
"Commissioner Goodell's compensation reflects the value of his leadership and the success of the NFL at the highest levels," said Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, a member of the league's compensation committee. "His significant accomplishments continue to strengthen our game, our business and our leading position in the sports industry."
League general counsel Jeff Pash was second on the list of executives' pay with $7.86 million, and he had $1.23 million in deferred compensation. Executive vice president Eric Grubman was at $4.243 million, with another $527,000 deferred.
"The NFL owners determined that the NFL under Goodell is the best-run sports league and has a great future," said Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp, a Chicago-based consulting firm, and close observer of the NFL. "They felt Roger's performance warranted his compensation to at least be comparable to the highest paid commissioner, which has historically been Bud Selig."
Selig is believed to earn a salary in excess of $20 million.
"The people who decided his performance warranted this compensation are the same people who are paying it, the 32 team owners," Ganis added. "They decided that Goodell's performance was worth a little more than $1 million for each of the teams -- a very rational decision based on the extraordinary results Goodell has delivered for them."