President Obama sat down with HBO's Bill Simmons for a lengthy interview published in GQ on Tuesday, and among the numerous topics discussed was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Simmons, who has been vocal in his criticisms of the commissioner, broached the subject of Goodell by bringing up a hypothetical situation in which three of the major sports leagues were looking for a new commissioner.
Simmons asked Obama whether he would be interested in any of them:
Simmons: Baseball, football, basketball, all the commissioner jobs open up next year. Which one would you want?
Obama: Well, I'm best suited for basketball. But I cannot believe that the commissioner of football gets paid $44 million a year.
As Obama noted, Goodell reportedly makes $44 million a year in salary and bonuses, a figure that has skyrocketed during his tenure.
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In recent seasons, as controversies around football have mounted, Goodell and his lofty paycheck have been heavily criticized. Many have wondered whether the commissioner's job is safe.
Most recently, after the New England Patriots' Deflategate scandal, many speculated thatGoodell's job was in serious danger because he made an enemy of Robert Kraft, the Patriots owner who is arguably the biggest reason Goodell become commissioner in 2006. Before Deflategate, Kraft had been Goodell's biggest supporter: He repeatedly defended Goodell's $44 million salary and fostered such a close friendship with Goodell that many jokingly called Kraft the "assistant commissioner."
Still, as Obama suggests to Simmons, as long as the NFL is making money, Goodell's job is probably safe. (It's also worth noting that Simmons seemingly tries to bait the president into criticizing Goodell and the NFL, which Obama does not fall for):
Simmons: When you said, "I cannot believe …" I didn't know where you were going with that. Have you thought about calling Roger Goodell and being like, "What are you doing?Can I help you?" [Obama laughs.] "Can I give you some advice? Want to have dinner?"
Obama: They're making a profit, and I think that's what the owners are most concerned with.
Simmons tries again, to no avail:
Simmons: So you think the owners like having him there?
Obama: You're not going to drag me into your fights, man. Come on — I've got enough fights of my own. [laughs] This is between you and Roger.
And let's face it: Obama has bigger fish to fry than the NFL.