In response to the coronavirus pandemic, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month voluntarily requested to the league's compensation committee that his salary be reduced to zero, which was accepted and went into effect weeks ago, according to an email sent by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II that was obtained by ESPN.
In a memo written by Goodell and attached in Rooney's email, which was sent to all team owners Wednesday afternoon, the league also announced that it will implement executive pay cuts and will furlough a limited part of its workforce.
"I wanted to make you aware that yesterday afternoon the Compensation Committee reviewed and approved these measures," Rooney wrote. "It is important to note that the Commissioner and his staff took the initiative to implement these measures as responsible steps in light of the economic uncertainty facing all businesses. Obviously, these are steps we all would prefer not to have to take, and the League office remains committed to planning for a full season in 2020.
"... In addition to the steps outlined in the memo, last month the Commissioner requested that he voluntarily reduce his salary to $0, which went into effect earlier this month."
A league spokesman confirmed the validity of the memos obtained by ESPN.
The league will implement tiered reductions in pay for its top executives and managers, taking effect in May. The reductions will begin at 5% for manager-level staffers and will rise to 7% for directors, 10% for vice presidents, 12% for senior vice presidents and 15% for executive vice presidents. No employee earning a base salary of less than $100,000 will be affected by the reduction, and no employee's salary will drop below $100,000 as a result of it, according to the memo.
"We hope that business conditions will improve and permit salaries to be returned to their current levels, although we do not know when that will be possible," Goodell wrote.
Furloughed employees will neither work nor be paid but will continue to receive full health care benefits.
"It is important to remember that a furlough is not a termination," Goodell wrote. "We do not know how long a furlough will last, but we are hopeful that we will be able to return furloughed employees back to work within a few months."
Other leagues also have implemented salary reductions, including the NBA. ESPN reported last month that the league was reducing base salaries by 20% for its top-paid executives. Likewise, the NHL cut the pay of league office executives by 25%, effective April 1. Major League Soccer cut pay by up to 25% for some headquarters employees, including the commissioner. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred cut senior salaries by an average of 35%.