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Goodell intends to retire as NFL commissioner at end of extension in 2024, league says

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the news conference where he awarded New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady the MVP trophy, in Houston, Feb. 6, 2017. (Doug Mills/Copyright 2017 The New York Times)

IRVING, Texas - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell intends to retire at the completion of his newly completed contract extension in 2024, league spokesman Joe Lockhart said Wednesday.

"The commissioner has been clear he views this as his final contract," said Lockhart, the NFL's executive vice president of communications and public affairs.

Goodell will work with owners of NFL teams to identify and have his successor in place by the time he plans to step away, Lockhart said.

The extension is to pay Goodell as much as about $40 million per year, about 90 percent of which is tied to incentives.

Owners are meeting Wednesday at a Dallas-area hotel. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the chairman of the owners' compensation committee that negotiated the extension with Goodell, said that Goodell's plan to retire at the conclusion of this deal was not part of the deliberations.

"I'm not sure how old he'll be in March of 2024," Blank said. "But he's got a young family. He's got twin girls that are 16 and they'll be off. It could be that he and his wife may decide to do some other things. We have no idea. We're worried about the current situation for the next five years and the vision for the league going forward."

Goodell will be 65 when the extension expires. He will have served nearly 18 years as commissioner after being elected by the owners in August 2006 to succeed Paul Tagliabue.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who opposed Goodell's extension and was critical about the approach taken by Blank and the compensation committee in working out the deal, spoke to the other owners during Wednesday's meeting.

Jones had threatened at one point during the negotiation process to sue to block the extension, then rescinded that threat. He pushed for all owners, not only those on the six-member compensation committee, to be involved in setting the commissioner's salary.

Under the extension, Goodell's incentive package will be overseen by owners on other committees as well as those on the compensation committee. Blank said that about 20 owners, in all, will have a say into Goodell's income under the arrangement. But Blank said that Jones' role "was not a factor" in determining the structure of the contract and the package of incentives. Blank stressed that members of the compensation committee were in regular contact with other owners about the negotiations and the details of the contract.

"Under the commissioner's old contract, essentially a large percentage of it was guaranteed over a period of time," Blank said. "Under this contract, about 90 percent of it was based on performance. The commissioner was a great listener and responded and was very supportive of doing not only the right thing for himself personally and his position, but thinking about the league, thinking about what owners are expressing. . . . All of that, I think, was very important to getting this done. But we paid a lot of attention to the process."

According to Blank, owners will consider a proposal at the annual league meeting in March to revise the structure of the compensation committee and how it is chosen. That also could give the entire group of owners more control over the process of negotiating a commissioner's contract.

According to the league, Goodell's contract was examined by an independent consultant which determined that it was in line with the negotiating goals of the compensation committee. The contract includes no post-retirement payments to Goodell, according to the league. Goodell would have to pay for any use of a private plane through the league, the NFL said.

The compensation committee at one point informed Jones that it regarded his behavior as constituting conduct detrimental to the league. Such conduct could lead to penalties being imposed on Jones, under league rules. Blank declined to say Wednesday whether he would regard that as appropriate.

"I think that's beyond the scope of this committee," Blank said. "I think that's up to the league and what have you."

Goodell's extension will keep him in place to negotiate the next labor agreement with the players' union. The current deal runs through 2020. The owners locked out the players before the last deal was struck in 2011. Goodell also will oversee the negotiations of the NFL's next set of television contracts.

The league has been through a turbulent period with Goodell in charge, with labor strife, courtroom clashes with the NFL Players Association over player discipline and controversies over issues ranging from concussions to bounties to domestic violence to, even, deflated footballs.

This season has been particularly tempestuous. President Donald Trump and many fans have been sharply critical of players protesting during the national anthem and the league's handling of the matter. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the players' protest movement last season, has not been signed and has filed a grievance accusing teams of collusion. Jones' opposition to Goodell's contract highlighted rifts within the league, and the NFL has had to deal with declining TV viewership and a series of injuries sidelining star players.

Story by Mark Maske. Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.