Obama: 'I cannot believe the commissioner of football gets paid $44 million a year'

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 about 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 if he’d 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 $US44 million a year.

As Obama noted, Goodell reportedly makes $US44 million a year in salary and bonuses, and this figure has has skyrocketed over the course of his tenure.

In recent seasons, as controversies around football have mounted, Goodell and his lofty paycheck have been heavily criticised. Many have also wondered if his job as commissioner is no longer safe.

Most recently, after Deflategate, many speculated that Goodell’s job was in serious danger because he made an enemy of Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots’ owner and arguably the biggest reason that Goodell become commissioner in 2006. Prior to Deflategate, Kraft had been Goodell’s biggest supporter: he repeatedly defended Goodell’s $US44 million salary, and fostered such a close friendship with Goodell that many jokingly called Kraft the “assistant commissioner.”

Still, as Obama suggests to Simmons, so 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 criticising 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.

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