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Mara claims fans have "all financial information"

As recently explained to our pal Monty of Sporting News Radio, we have one constituency in the ongoing labor drama between the NFL and its players’ union:  the fans.

And so we’re committed to exposing any and all examples of things said and done by either side that, in our view, will make it harder to achieve the one things the fans want:  their football.

In a recent item appearing at the NFLPA official web site, which was far more balanced and objective than we’ve come to expect from either side, Jeff Gardenour recounts some of the labor-related comments culled from the recently-completed league meetings.  Regarding the question of whether the NFL has been sharing sufficient financial information with the fans as the league tries to finagle a better deal from the players, Giants co-owner John Mara said, “We’ve given all financial information to the fans.  I think
the fans have enough information.”

In reality, the fans have very limited financial information, and they’re required to break out the elbow grease in order to compile it.  We know what the Packers earn because they’re publicly-owned and thus the Packers must disclose the information.  For the 31 privately-held franchises, however, we have access only to reported information regarding player contracts, salaries of key personnel like coaches and high-level front-office execs, the money coming from broadcasting contracts, ticket prices, some endorsement deals, and the periodic disclosure via litigation of things like the seven-figure G.M. bonus that Bengals owner Mike Brown has paid himself.

Despite his contention that financial information has been given to the fans, Mara seems to realize that no one has a full financial picture, given that he also attempted to justify the decision not to open the books by explaining that, even if they do, the players won’t be satisfied.  “A few years ago, the NBA supplied its players union its financial
information, and in some cases, their tax returns, but the players still
questioned things,” Mara said.  “So, what good does it do to supply them with
information?”

But there’s nothing wrong with questioning things.  Especially if the financial information contains, you know, questionable things.  Like a seven-figure G.M. bonus that an owner has paid to himself, in lieu of hiring a General Manager.

Though we believe that the NFLPA has twisted and manipulated some of the facts relevant to this fight in the hopes of currying favor with the fans, we continue to be troubled by the league’s suggestion that it’s not making money and its refusal to be candid with the union about the money that’s being made.  And if the league is concerned that opening the books will only give rise to questions that the league doesn’t want to answer, maybe the best approach moving forward is to manage the books in a manner that would ensure that any questions would be easily met with a reasonable and simple answer.

For now, the better approach would be to acknowledge that this current labor dispute isn’t about whether the league is making enough money to survive, but whether it’s making as much money as it wants to make.

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20 Responses to “Mara claims fans have "all financial information"”
  1. cbatchel says: Mar 26, 2010 8:35 AM

    Billionaires making more billions, no way they want diclose their financial records. It won’t look as good when they raise ticket prices on the fans and try to negotiate new labor contracts with the players.

  2. RaiderClay says: Mar 26, 2010 8:54 AM

    The owners deserve to make Billions. Players invest $0 and share 0 risk.

  3. DirtMcGirt24 says: Mar 26, 2010 8:55 AM

    … Nor will it look good when they cry for public-funded stadiums.

  4. falcon3 says: Mar 26, 2010 9:03 AM

    wow, I will definitely NEVER cheer for a sleezeball-owned franchise like the Bengals to win. I konw all the owners are glorified con men, enriched off their underlings or recipients of a team from daddy, but paying himself to be a Matt Millen level G.M….wow.

  5. Nuckinfutz says: Mar 26, 2010 9:23 AM

    If Mike Brown wants to pay himself a salary for running the franchise, that’s his business…….because……well……IT’S HIS BUSINESS!!!
    The owners are entitled to a return on their investment. They are entitled to make millions of dollars, because they have hundreds of millions invested in their franchises. The players are EMPLOYEES. They have nothing invested, and share none of the financial risk. If the team starts losing money, the players are not going to be on the hook for paying the mortgage on the franchise or the stadium. They are being payed huge sums to play, but they are NOT “partners.” Partners invest their own capital, and partners share the financial risk of ownership.
    As far as the stadium issue….. some have argued that the players should not have to help pay for the stadiums. Well THEY DON’T!!! Nobody is required to take money out of their paycheck to help pay for the stadium.
    You argued that auto workers don’t have to pay for the car plant. No they don’t. But in all businesses, it factors into the equation. In other businesses it’s called OVERHEAD! The amount of money that the auto companies pay for factories has an effect on how many workers are hired, how much they are paid, and how much is charged for a car. To not recognize that these new stadiums represent a huge increase in overhead is just plain foolish. The stadiums also bring in huge amounts money. The players have no right to expect to get all the benefits of the increased revenue, without recognizing the increased costs that are associated with generating that revenue.

  6. Big Blue says: Mar 26, 2010 9:23 AM

    There is nothing illegal about what Mike Brown did, and it’s just barely in the area of being considered unethical, it’s just a tax loop-hole that he took advantage of. Personally, I don’t really care what the owners make public or not as long as there is football in 2011.

  7. Hap says: Mar 26, 2010 9:33 AM

    What Mike Brown did woulda been ok if the Bungled mess won in the postseason regularly.

  8. bluestree says: Mar 26, 2010 9:37 AM

    @RaiderClay; Players share $0 investment and $0 risk? That’s rich! How about all the guys that spend years training and preparing for a career, only to have a small ligiment give out and end their careers. No risk? These guys get their brains beat out! What’s the split between a boxer and his manager? I think team owners get a bigger slice of the pie than that. Oh yeah, owning an NFL franchise is such a risky proposition! They go broke all the time. How many times have players taken a salary reduction to get a guy on board under the cap so they can win games? What if your boss came to you and asked you to take a pay cut so he could hire a new guy to help the company make more money? I think the NFL owners are plain greedy, they see the nation is waking up to the long, hard screwing the middle class has taken, and they want to lock in a deal before public opinion totally swings against them.

  9. chris says: Mar 26, 2010 9:45 AM

    Why would we care what the owners make? It is really none of our buisness. But what i do care about is that they make enough money to put out a great product that i want to spend my money on and have enough to invest in the future! The NFLPA get a clue, we as the fans really have no interest in what the owners make, it is a non issue as far as i’m concerned. Ps..If they opened there books and i find out they do not make enough money to survive i will blame the UNIONS AS MOST NON-UNION people will.

  10. bluestree says: Mar 26, 2010 9:46 AM

    @Nuckinfutz; Basically you are making the Eric Cartman argument. “It’s mine! It’s miiiinne!” You can’t compare the NFL to the auto industry because the NFL is a trust. It is exempt from laws that prevent other types of businesses from colluding with their competitors to fix prices. If the NFL had a case, they would show their books! They won’t, because if they did we would all go “Holy crap!” and start looking at their sweetheart deal differently.

  11. Insomniac says: Mar 26, 2010 9:54 AM

    Don’t we have the info? The owners are making a profit, but they want more of a profit to grow the game. The old spend money to make money corollary. Do the fans want to get involved in how much money is too much money?

  12. Bigbluefan says: Mar 26, 2010 10:18 AM

    This is simple if the players do not like the pay go else where the CFL the UFL or here is an idea get a real job where you work 49 or 50 weeks a year.
    The owners are just that owners they are not a charity they are there to make money.
    Until Czar Obama changes that it is not a crime to make money this share the weath crap has got to stop.
    I dare anyone of you to go ask your boss or business owner to open his books so you can decide how much your going to get paid.
    The idea of a business is to make money and grow the business. As far as players taking risks yeah they could get hurt but if they were not in the NFL they could get hurt falling off the back of a trash truck or burned with hot oil at Micky D’s
    When a player is drafted they are richer in year one then they ever would be doing anything else.
    Close the books tell the unions to go F off

  13. bengalbob says: Mar 26, 2010 10:25 AM

    @bluestree – players are very highly compensated relative to the population at large, and enter they enter the profession knowing the injury risk and short career duration (even if healthy). They are free to pursue a more risk averse career and live with the associated reduced compensation like the vast majority of us.

  14. cbatchel says: Mar 26, 2010 10:30 AM

    Players share no risk? Yes no financial risk, but they share all the risk of injury and health to their bodies. The owner might put up some money but they are not going to get paralysed from the neck down on a hard hit. And the players are the ones with all the talent., Only a couple thousand people in the whole US are physically gifted enough to do what they do. Without them the owners have nothing but empty stadiums and no product to sell.

  15. Flyingelvislogosucksbringbackpatpatriot says: Mar 26, 2010 10:37 AM

    So Bluestree, what your saying that you are an Obamalama lovin democrat.

  16. BroncoBourque says: Mar 26, 2010 10:41 AM

    I don’t care how much the owners are making, they invested Millions to buy these teams so I would expect they are making some profit on that investment. At the end of the day I don’t care what the players make either. If they really cared what we all thought, they would all be taking a pay cut so that they can lower prices for tickets but that won’t be on the list of solutions to this mess. Most fans just want to have football in 2011 and however they have to get that done, do it.

  17. Bob S. says: Mar 26, 2010 11:16 AM

    Mara who only is there because his daddy slept with his mommy, the same boy Mara who built an un-needed stadium with SEAT LICENSES that has kicked aside the longtime fans/customers whose money built this Giants organization over the past 60 years, this boy Mara states fans have all the “financial facts” AGAIN?
    Only thing is obvious, the class er CASTE system that has now developed in the country, and the huge divide that those at the TOP wish to spread even wider apart.

  18. bluestree says: Mar 26, 2010 11:24 AM

    @bengalbob; With the average NFL career being as short as it is, I don’t think you can say the average player is highly compensated compared to an insurance salesman who can expect to work 45 years as opposed to six or less. Also, you’re not addressing the antitrust exemption the NFL enjoys. Your do have a valid point in that players choose their career. I’m not looking for the NFL to set up a kibbutz, just open your books, since you operate with government largesse, and let the fan’s see what’s fair or not. I think if we saw what they make, fans would be some kind of pissed about ticket prices.

  19. anjelmanning says: Mar 26, 2010 11:26 AM

    Why wouldn’t we care what the owners make? Plenty seem to bitch about how players are overpaid, yet owners are entitled? Makes no sense. Everyone seems to care about the bonuses and salaries that banking execs get, but why? Because you invest your money and time with those banks.. Well, alot of us invest alot of money and time to our fav NFL franchises.

  20. bengalbob says: Mar 26, 2010 12:10 PM

    @bluestree: even a 3 year NFL career @$400K per (forgive me I’m too lazy to look up the minimum salary), is 12 years years of work for a an insurance salesman pulling in $100k per. So yeah, I would say he is highly compensated.
    Plus he can go sell insurance after his NFL career is over.
    Why does the fan care about the antitrust exemption? The threat of congress taking it away keeps the NFL on over the air TV right now; otherwise you’ll be paying extra every month for the Cowboys Sports Network or whatever team you choose to follow.
    Pissed about ticket prices? Simple: don’t buy them.

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