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THE POWER 50
Text by Albert Chen
March 11, 2013
SI RANKED (THEN SHUFFLED, STARTED OVER AND RERANKED) THE 50 MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE IN SPORTS. DON'T LIKE OUR LIST? TRY US AGAIN IN A YEAR WHEN, INEVITABLY, TODAY'S LEADERS WILL BE UNDERPERFORMING OR UNDER ASSAULT. FOR NOW, YOUR LEADER ...
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March 11, 2013

The Power 50

SI RANKED (THEN SHUFFLED, STARTED OVER AND RERANKED) THE 50 MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE IN SPORTS. DON'T LIKE OUR LIST? TRY US AGAIN IN A YEAR WHEN, INEVITABLY, TODAY'S LEADERS WILL BE UNDERPERFORMING OR UNDER ASSAULT. FOR NOW, YOUR LEADER ...

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1 ROGER GOODELL

NFL commissioner

[LEAGUE GOVERNANCE][WORLD POWER][TASTEMAKER][SOCIAL SAVVY]

As de facto CEO of the King of All Sports Leagues—more than $9 billion in annual revenue; furnisher of many (O.K., most) of the highest-rated TV programs—the NFL commissioner wields considerable influence by dint of job title alone. But Goodell has consistently pushed, and sometimes trespassed, the boundaries of that authority. His overly swift and harsh dispensing of punishment in the Saints' Bountygate scandal represents one example. But here's another: In the same week last month that we learned of Goodell's $29.5 million salary for 2011 (that's $11.5 million more than Tom Brady that year), it was also reported that rookie Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard had been convicted of assaulting a police officer. And though the incident occurred while Dennard was still at Nebraska, many expect that he will be suspended by Goodell.

This 54-year-old commish is akin to the boxer who has more than power—he has reach too. Either you approve of him or, like 61% of NFL players in a recent USA Today poll, you disapprove of him. But like his league, his supremacy is unmistakable.

2 DAVID STERN

NBA commissioner

[LEAGUE GOVERNANCE][WORLD POWER][70-PLUS][SOON-TO-RETIRE]

The longest-tenured commissioner in pro U.S. sports will retire next Feb. 1—30 years to the day after he took the job. But the 70-year-old is no lion in winter, as the Spurs were reminded when Stern fined them $250,000 for resting their top four players for a nationally televised game against the champion Heat in November.

Since 1983, the NBA's revenue has grown from $140 million to an estimated record of $5 billion for 2012--13 with the widest global imprint among the four major North American pro leagues. Stern has put the NBA at the forefront of digital and social media (16 million Facebook likes, seven million Twitter followers—the best among U.S. leagues) and has gotten tough on PEDs (HGH testing should be in place by next season).

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