Goodell cuts own pay by 20 percent

NEW YORK -- Commissioner Roger Goodell is taking a pay cut and the league staff has been trimmed by 15 percent because of the reeling economy, the NFL confirmed Wednesday.

The league said that its staff cuts have resulted in a reduction of 169 jobs through buyouts, layoffs and other methods. That amounts to a little more than 15 percent of the league's work force of 1,100.

"All of us understand that it will continue to take collective sacrifice to get through this challenging economic environment, but these and other steps by our office and clubs will enable us to be more efficient and better positioned for future growth," league spokesman Greg Aiello said.

USA Today reported on Feb. 14 that Goodell has voluntarily taken a cut of 20 to 25 percent from the $11 million salary and bonuses he was to receive in the 2008 fiscal year, which ends March 31.

The league said 2009 salaries have been frozen for all of its employees, and projected expenses for 2009 have been reduced by 20 percent.

The moves affect NFL headquarters in New York; NFL Films in Mount Laurel, N.J.; and the NFL Network and NFL.com in Los Angeles.

The league estimates that 10 to 12 teams have laid off about a combined 200 people in the past few months -- and those are only the ones that have been publicly announced.

On the other hand, Denver, which laid off employees almost a year ago, owes former coach Mike Shanahan an estimated $20 million for the next three years after firing him after the 2008 season.

The league is concerned about the economy's effect on its sponsors, with the auto industry hit especially hard. Although television ratings were high last season and television contracts are in effect for another three seasons, car companies are among the biggest television advertisers.

NFL officials, including Goodell, have said that they won't know the effect of the economy on the league until later this year, and perhaps not even then. One factor is how well season tickets sell when they go on the market this spring -- three-quarters of teams are freezing ticket prices for this coming season at their 2008 levels.

In addition, playoff ticket prices will be reduced by 10 percent.

Some of the league's layoffs are clearly intended to affect talks on the collective bargaining agreement, which could start up this spring, after the NFL Players Association selects a new executive director to replace the late Gene Upshaw.

The owners opted out of the contract last season, arguing it was too favorable to players, who receive nearly 60 percent of total revenues -- an estimated $4.5 billion next season, with a salary cap increasing from $116 million to $123 million.

Several team presidents and general managers -- including Bill Polian of Indianapolis, Mike Reinfeldt of Tennessee and Jerry Reese of the New York Giants -- said during the NFL's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis during the past week that they expect to be more frugal during the free-agency period, which begins Friday.

Even with the salary cap going up, they predicted that second-level free agents would have a hard time finding big money after teams pay for the first level of stars, such as Albert Haynesworth, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Ray Lewis.

Information from ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas and The Associated Press was used in this report.