By Ben Sullivan
Would the NFL, which suffers from a 19th-century plantation mentality stoked by its tight-assed owners, consider sacking woeful commish Roger Goodell and hire the NBA’s Adam Silver?
Silver says he hasn’t “given any thought” to inquiries by NFL owners about his willingness to switch leagues and become commissioner of the NFL.
While Silver did not explicitly confirm that he had been approached by NFL owners, sources told ESPN that several NFL owners have tried to persuade Silver to run their league over the course of his five years as the NBA’s commissioner. Silver has also been approached by a number of Fortune 500 companies, according to sources.
“I’ll just say I have not given it any thought,” Silver told ESPN about his reaction to those job opportunities. “I feel very fortunate to be in this position. As a longtime fan, as a longtime league employee, the opportunity to become the commissioner of this league was beyond anything I even ever dreamed of as a kid.
“I’ve loved every day I’ve been in this job, and I think there’s nothing but enormous opportunity ahead for this league. And ultimately, I realize I’m just passing through like every player who’s gone through this league and ultimately like every owner, and I feel an enormous obligation to the fans and to this greater NBA family to do my best and try my hardest every day. But that’s where 100 percent of my focus is.”
ESPN’s Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham reported in August 2017 that a confidant of an NFL owner reached out to gauge whether Silver would be interested in running the NFL, to which Silver immediately said no.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell signed a five-year extension worth up to $200 million in December 2017. Silver signed a five-year extension with the NBA in June that runs through the 2023-24 season.
Silver is celebrating his five-year anniversary as NBA commissioner this weekend at the All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina. He officially succeeded David Stern as the league’s fifth commissioner on Feb. 1, 2014, and held his first State of the NBA news conference on Feb. 15 of that year at the All-Star Game in New Orleans.
League revenues have increased from $4.8 billion to a projected $9.1 billion in Silver’s five years. Team valuations have increased by 267 percent, from an average of $509 million in 2013 to $1.9 billion in the latest Forbes Magazine valuations.
The NBA has been a vanguard in embracing esports, legalized sports betting, allowing patch advertisements on jerseys, reform of the draft lottery and rules changes to improve game flow and referee accountability.