Athletes struggle to see outside of their work reality mainly because sports is their entire life, so academically they’ve mailed it in and because they are all zillionaires, they don’t live like the rest of us. So last week, Roddy White – who is a very good receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, I think he’s a really good player but he wrote on Twitter last week that he could not believe that Rodger Goodell was going to make $20 million dollars a year by the year 2019.
Now first of all, that sounds like a lot of money – and it is, but never forget this about commissioners. The NFL is a private company and the owners are the equity stakeholders. So Roger Goodell has neither company share nor stock options, so that’s all he gets. I’ve got news for you; it’s a $9 billion dollar business annually. There are people making $15 million a year that are in $800 million dollar companies, he’s running a $9 billion dollar company – and that’s what it makes now! When the new TV contracts kick in 2 to 3 years time, it’ll be an $11 billion dollar industry. “Well Andrew anybody can run that thing…” really? Have you seen baseball’s popularity and cultural significance erode in 25 years? You don’t think commissioners matter?
The NBA was dead before David Stern! They were putting the Eastern Conference finals on tape delay at 11:30pm after the local news….the NBA was dead! David Stern came in, put the name on the back of the jersey in front and made players stars, not teams, rivalries or cities. I’m happy to report that the league is now doing very well. If you just think that sports stays the same…your nuts! It’s Tagliabue and Roger Goodell who have negotiated seamlessly monster contracts. Meanwhile in baseball, let’s be honest the New York Giants’ first game of the NFL season beat a Yankee playoff game in New York – that doesn’t happen 25 years ago, leadership is key. If you don’t think leadership matters – and just because you’ve got a great education anybody can run anything, I give you October 2008 Wall Street. Ivy League guys put the U.S. in a financial dumpster.
Leadership is hard to find – go look at the U.S. Congress. Wide receivers are incredibly replaceable, it’s called a draft, and it happens every April. Favre exits, Aaron Rodgers arrives…not a speed bump. Peyton is out; Andrew Luck is in – business as usual. Now I gave you two examples where it was more seamless than usual, but if you don’t think leadership matters, the Patriots had 18 undrafted players along with 11 more drafted 4th round or later yet made it to the Superbowl. The Raiders 1st and 2nd round picks everywhere, couldn’t make the playoffs in a lousy AFC West. Why do the Steelers, the Patriots, the Giants and Eagles keep winning? Why don’t the Buc’s , why don’t the Lions, the Raiders, the Bengals…leadership I’d argue, is worth every penny if it’s really good.
I have to tell you something, one of the things about the U.S. that drives me nuts is why people resent what other individuals make. Resent an inefficient and wasteful government, resent corporations – 60% of which don’t pay any taxes. Why would you resent another individual? A recent study indicated that if you double the taxes of the top 1% of individual income earners, it would make absolutely no dent whatsoever to the national debt. But if you simply had a 15% flat tax on corporations and on all corporations – domestic or overseas, in would make a significant dent in the national debt. Yet the government and corporations get exactly what they want: people complaining about individuals’ wealth and not the real issue, of government inefficiency and corporate scapes to bypass taxes. Those are the real issues that are where you solve the national debt. It’s not on the guy that owns a lumber yard earning a million bucks a year; it’s not on that guy!
So I have no idea why a wide receiver in the NFL would resent – and for the record, couldn’t everybody in the U.S. argue that a very replaceable wide receiver, like they’re dropping 9 a year out of college like Victor Cruz went to UMass, couldn’t I argue that a wide receiver is overpaid? Listen, Roddy White, love yah brother but please stop talking because you’re being ridiculous. Anybody who’s worked for a bad boss or a bad company – no matter how great the employee talent is, it can’t overcome it. If you’re a school teacher and have a lousy principal, it doesn’t matter if you have 70 great teachers…you’ve got a bad school. Leadership is worth every penny!
The Cleveland Browns are a great example, the Lions, the Raiders and the Bengals are also great examples! You know, it’s about having the guy up at the top. Don’t resent the individual rich guy – there is a lot of people to resent, resent an inefficient government and resent corporations that are paying no taxes! That’s what should drive you insane! When studies have proven that if you tax corporations, you can totally get out of this mess. It’s not about the rich guy across the room that’s driving a Lexus; it’s totally irrelevant because there aren’t that many of those guys anyways. There’s not that many people making 7 figures in this country, there just simply isn’t. Basically Goodell is helping to run 32 individual companies that even compete against each other, yet they are all pouring into the same pot. That’s no easy challenge because you’ve got Jerry Jones over there, Dan Snyder over here and the Rooney’s over there and they’ve all got personal interests. It is hard to run a league!