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Impasse approaches regarding financial information

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So much for optimism.

In his latest excellently detailed (or detailedly excellent) look at the status of the talks between the NFL and the players’ union, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports illustrates the divide between the two sides regarding the issue of financial information.

Silver explains that the union’s current position is simple.  The players want 50 cents of every dollar earned (which is less than they’ve gotten annually over the last decade), and the players won’t move from that number until they receive a decade worth of audited financial statements from each team.

The NFL has offered only to provide aggregate profit information for five years, without revealing specific team numbers — even if the names of the teams were redacted.  The league also is willing to identify the number of teams that experienced a decline in profits in any given year during the five-year window.

Obviously, it’s not enough.  It’s not enough because it requires the union to trust the accuracy and validity of the numbers.  And the last thing the union will be doing is trusting the accuracy and validity of the numbers only eight days after the issuance of a court ruling that gives the union reason to not trust the league.

As Silver explains it, the owners’ options are clear.  Give up the financial information that supports a decrease in the players’ share of the revenue, or reduce the demands.  Silver accurately calls it a tax on the ability to keep the financial information secret.  He even suggests that, for some owners, the desire for secrecy may go beyond avoiding embarrassing disclosures or giving information to one of their 31 partner/competitors.  Silver hints that the books could reveal “even shady dealings that might attract outside attention from authorities.”

Either way, the books will be forced open if litigation ensues.  And with two days to go until the latest deadline arrives, litigation is looking more and more like the path down which the league will be careening, unless 32 men who are used to always getting their way realize that, in this specific situation, they won’t.

It’s up to them whether they do it the easy way, or the hard way.

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48 Responses to “Impasse approaches regarding financial information”
  1. obxastronaut says: Mar 9, 2011 7:31 AM

    UFL – here we come!

  2. brentolomew says: Mar 9, 2011 7:34 AM

    It should prove quite interesting to see if “shady” items exist in these owner’s “tomes of bones”. I have a feeling however that the information whether opened or not will never see the light of day.

    Don’t forget too Mike that it isn’t 32 men, it’s 31 men and a corporation. The Packers are public so please don’t loop them into the millionaire boys’ club on this one.

  3. Kave Krew says: Mar 9, 2011 7:41 AM

    Plz make Michael Silver’s link a daily fixture. The guy can write.

    thks

  4. chapnastier says: Mar 9, 2011 7:43 AM

    So we finally get some truth to the matter and yet it is still spun in favor of the players. The players demands are now proven to be outrageous. Since 32 teams compete with one another releasing the information would seriously undermine their ability to compete. It could be disastrous for business and the owners are smartly declining to release information that their employees do not have the right to see.

    On the other hand it seems as if 50 cents on the dollar is a “fair” compromise. It is less than what the players get now and you would think that the owners would take it and implement the Rookie wage scale as their gain. The option for compromise seems to be on the table yet neither side, despite the spin here, are willing to budge. It is clear that each side is equal to blame.

  5. abshire22 says: Mar 9, 2011 7:48 AM

    So the union has no concern for the long term health of the golden goose. If they can’t fleece the owners then they should be happy to drive them out of business altogether? To hell with the game, to hell with the fans, to hell with everyone just give us ours. For all the huffing and puffing and professing to “just want to play the game” they sure seem willing to financially cripple the men paying the checks to the point that there would be no reason to own a team. If the only options are to open the books and open themselves up to outside attention from the authorities or to shut down, shutting down suddenly seems more attractive.

  6. sterilizecromartie says: Mar 9, 2011 7:55 AM

    The owners will never fork over that kind of financial information. These rich heads do all they can to pay as little taxes as they can. Not saying I wouldn’t do the same if I were in their shoes, but I have a feeling the gigantic profits on these financial statements will poke major holes in the tax return numbers they have been claiming all these years.

  7. fin72 says: Mar 9, 2011 8:07 AM

    abshire22 says:
    Mar 9, 2011 7:48 AM
    So the union has no concern for the long term health of the golden goose. If they can’t fleece the owners then they should be happy to drive them out of business altogether? To hell with the game, to hell with the fans, to hell with everyone just give us ours.
    ____________________________________

    You’re right…. These players should risk the physical danger and long-term effects of playing the game just to keep you happy…. It’s all their fault. By the way, it appears to be the owners trying to “fleece” the players as the players aren’t asking for a penny more and are the ones being LOCKED OUT!!

  8. justadude71 says: Mar 9, 2011 8:14 AM

    …the books could reveal “even shady dealings that might attract outside attention from authorities.”
    __________________________________

    This is shocking news!!!

  9. jc1958cool says: Mar 9, 2011 8:26 AM

    take a year off and think about it! who needs that kind of $$$

  10. savocabol1 says: Mar 9, 2011 8:28 AM

    “…unless 32 men who are used to always getting their way…”

    Very cynical of you to make a statement like this. I would argue that the players are the ones who have been getting their way their whole lives.

  11. chatham10 says: Mar 9, 2011 8:30 AM

    Mike, I just do not understand why the union has the right to review the books. If I have to show the books to the union I would make sure that no outside firm is involved as this information is confidential. The union should not be allowed to bring in outside people, I find it hard to believe that the union does not have people who can read and understand a financial statement. I’m sure among his players who all went to college there must be some that took accounting instead of bowling etc.

  12. kevinfromphilly says: Mar 9, 2011 8:32 AM

    You guys are nuts – all publicly traded corporations have to report finacial data anually, and none of them complain about not being able to compete or about being “fleeced” by their employees because of that requirement.

  13. broncobourque says: Mar 9, 2011 8:33 AM

    The first word in the title might be the key to all of this, IMPASSE. If the owners can’t get the players to compromise after over 2 weeks of meetings, they could reasonably declare an impasse and implement their last best offer. Then it would be up to the players to strike if they don’t want to play under the confines of that offer. Then the owners could accurately say that the players have shut down the game and not them.

    From there, the players could decertify but I don’t see why that is such a scary thing for the owners. With no union, there is no minimum salary, no guarantee of expensive benefits or any other luxuries that have been collectively bargained. Sure it would mean the league couldn’t have a universal set of rules for labor but it also means they could exploit those rules too. How many people would happily play in the NFL for much less than the current minimum? I would wager they could find a lot of guys to fill the bottom of the rosters for less than $100,000 or less than 30% of the current ROOKIE minimum salary.

    How long do you think it would take for the players to want to bring back the union if they were forced to choose between a 70% paycut or no job at all? That would just be rookies making the minimum, veterans would be looking at 80-90% paycuts for those same jobs.

  14. eagleswin says: Mar 9, 2011 8:36 AM

    fin72 says:
    Mar 9, 2011 8:07 AM
    abshire22 says:

    You’re right…. These players should risk the physical danger and long-term effects of playing the game just to keep you happy…. It’s all their fault. By the way, it appears to be the owners trying to “fleece” the players as the players aren’t asking for a penny more and are the ones being LOCKED OUT!!

    ==================

    You make it sound like the players are downtrodden workers. They aren’t.

    The owners are in no way trying to reduce the benefits of the players. They get free gold plated health insurance, great pensions, free financial planning, free mental/marriage counselling, tuition assistance, free rides on the league’s dime when they are to drunk to drive, etc. The only thing the league isn’t doing is spending their money for them. Apparantly it’s the league’s fault that players spend their paychecks instead of putting some away. How many players take advantage of tuition assistance? The league can’t make the players more financially responsible or force them to learn skills that will serve them after football.

    As far as the players not asking for a penny more. That’s incorrect. They want the league to beef up the old timers retiree pension plans. On the league’s dime of course. We wouldn’t want the players to fund anything out of their own union funds because that would take away from their bling money.

  15. chapnastier says: Mar 9, 2011 8:37 AM

    “These players should risk the physical danger and long-term effects of playing the game”

    And they get paid very handsomely for that risk

  16. marty2019 says: Mar 9, 2011 8:43 AM

    It seems like the players just want to know the truth. All they are asking for is the facts. Why the owners won’t open their books is beyond me, unless they have something to hide.

  17. jfluke65 says: Mar 9, 2011 8:45 AM

    10 years? why? The owners are arguing that it’s the last deal that’s killing them financially. A steady decline, overall, over the last 5 years should be enough proof.
    As for the players, as someone suggested they risk their bodies for our entertainment, I ask: who’s forcing them to do so? And who of us wouldn’t do the same for even less money?
    Finally, don’t expect a deal to get done soon. All it takes is 9 owners that figure there’s a competitive advantage to a lockout keeping other teams from improving during a normal offseason to kill any deal. How many teams make the playoffs? Oh yeah, 12. Hmmm….

  18. jimmysee says: Mar 9, 2011 8:46 AM

    chapnastier says:
    Mar 9, 2011 7:43 AM

    “On the other hand it seems as if 50 cents on the dollar is a “fair” compromise. It is less than what the players get now and you would think that the owners would take it and implement the Rookie wage scale as their gain. ”

    —————————————————————

    But trading the 50% rule for rookie pay scale makes no sense for owners. If they agree to pay out 50%, who do they care if rookies take 25% of that number or 5%? The rookie pay scale is a concession to the union in that it leaves more $$$$$ for veteran players.

    On the other hand, trading 50% and access to the books for 18-game schedule with two bye weeks and a 60-man roster could be a way to go.

  19. PFTiswhatitis says: Mar 9, 2011 8:49 AM

    The players want 50 cents on the dollar. The owners can then use their 50 cents to pay all of the costs of keeping the business running, pay the employees, maintain the facilities, market the franchise, etc etc. and keep whatever is left over.
    Get real!

  20. brdnc says: Mar 9, 2011 8:51 AM

    Not at all sure it’s correct to predict that the owners’ “books would be open if litigation ensues.”

  21. CJ says: Mar 9, 2011 8:54 AM

    chapnastier says:
    Mar 9, 2011 7:43 AM
    So we finally get some truth to the matter and yet it is still spun in favor of the players. The players demands are now proven to be outrageous. Since 32 teams compete with one another releasing the information would seriously undermine their ability to compete.
    ________________
    Public traded companies still find ways to complete despite releasing their earnings to the world every quarter. It’s asinine to think that this would hamper any teams’ ability to compete. To further prove my point is that the Packers have to release similar information EVERY YEAR as a publicly held company. This clearly “hampered” their ability to get to and win the Super Bowl this year. Oh wait…

    The players aren’t asking for a line-item account of every dollar spent. They’re just asking for audited (i.e. not cooked) statements showing how much the owners are losing. If a 9.3 billion dollar industry that everyone on the outside thinks is tremendously success is crying poor-mouth and wants to roll back the salary cap, etc., then I think the players have a right to verify that. If owners are crying poor mouth because they want to save a few bucks or can’t run their organizations with any sense, then that isn’t the player’s problem.

  22. johnny1979 says: Mar 9, 2011 8:56 AM

    I work for a small, family owned company of about 300 employees and the owners share bottom line financial information with all the employees. Why? Because we are part of the reason they’re making money. Think about that NFL owners. Just open the damn books, it’s going to happen sometime!

  23. eagleswin says: Mar 9, 2011 8:56 AM

    Honestly, I hope there is an impasse and the union decertifies. If that happens and the players refuse to work for the last best offer, the players can kiss those multimillion contracts goodbye as well as the unlimited free healthcare, tuition assistance, counselling, huge pensions, etc.

    I’m not denying that it will hurt the owners but the bottom line is the owners will do what’s in their best interests and opening their books to the players is not in the owners best interests. That level of financial detail will not help get a deal done. From what I understand, it’s not helped a deal get done in any other league.

    I can see union telling the owners which expenses they don’t like and arguing that they shouldn’t count against the profitability.

    Can you imagine if they league had to run stadium renovations by the players for a cost/benefit analysis for approval before doing anything? Maybe the players should make sure the teams aren’t paying the concessions people to much money.

    I’d rather the league bring in new players, even if they are initially of lesser talent. They would still be the best football players playing unless you can see Peyton and Brees playing for $50,000/yr in the UFL without the gold plated health plan if they get hurt.

    By season 2 (and two full drafts out of college) the fans would be back. Keep in mind that if the union decertifies before the draft, the draftees will never have been in the union.

  24. hail2tharedskins says: Mar 9, 2011 8:58 AM

    As a lawyer maybe you can explain this to me…

    If the union decertifies and files anti-trust litigation how would they be able to force the books open? The anti-trust lawsuit would be over work rules how would the books have any relevance to the lawsuit? I realize their are certain things the union could claim in a lawsuit that would make the books relevent, but the union would have to decertify and it wouldn’t exists and surely they wouldn’t be dumb enough to make claims as a union in a legal filing and allow the league to get the entire suit tossed as a “sham”. If the players wanted to force the books open in a lawsuit, wouldn’t players individually have to sue their employer in 31 separate law suits?

  25. justadude71 says: Mar 9, 2011 9:06 AM

    Reflecting upon this article some more I have come to the conclusion that the owners should be held to the same standards as the players.

    It is all about the image of the NFL right?

    The books of every team should be carefully checked. Those found guilty of crimes, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    The NFL is starting to really make itself look bad. Truth is that while I love football after reading about the TV contracts and the egotistical behavior of some owners I would rather have the NFL go out of business than continue with a bunch of hypocrites running the show.

  26. eagleswin says: Mar 9, 2011 9:08 AM

    hail2tharedskins says:
    Mar 9, 2011 8:58 AM
    As a lawyer maybe you can explain this to me…

    If the union decertifies and files anti-trust litigation how would they be able to force the books open? The anti-trust lawsuit would be over work rules how would the books have any relevance to the lawsuit? I realize their are certain things the union could claim in a lawsuit that would make the books relevent, but the union would have to decertify and it wouldn’t exists and surely they wouldn’t be dumb enough to make claims as a union in a legal filing and allow the league to get the entire suit tossed as a “sham”. If the players wanted to force the books open in a lawsuit, wouldn’t players individually have to sue their employer in 31 separate law suits?
    ==============
    I’m looking forward to the union’s defense that the decertification isn’t a sham, especially since they did the same thing in the 80′s and immediately reformed. It was a sham then and it’s a sham now except now the owners can prove it based on precedent.

  27. mrone50 says: Mar 9, 2011 9:17 AM

    If you think the NFL and the UNION are not business partners you are unamerican.

  28. FoozieGrooler says: Mar 9, 2011 9:24 AM

    chapnastier says: Mar 9, 2011 7:43 AM

    “So we finally get some truth to the matter and yet it is still spun in favor of the players. The players demands are now proven to be outrageous.”

    How is it outrageous?
    If the owners aren’t willing to bargain in “good faith” and back up their claims of “decreasing revenues”, than all it is is a “claim”. Opening their books would either: remove all doubt, or expose them as liars.

    Either way, the owners are finding out that their “because we said so” strategy isn’t working.

  29. dirtybird06 says: Mar 9, 2011 9:28 AM

    how anyone can side with the owners in this is beyond me. If you’re insisting that you’re losing money and that a new deal is to be had, remember the players initially said they’d play under the current deal, then why not show proof of declining dollars over the course of the last ten years? Why? Because either they’re lying, which is what I tend to believe, or they’ve got a lot to hide.

    At this point, I hope the damn league fails because greed is such an ugly thing and it’s turned these owners into blood-sucking leeches! And I’m sorry Jeff Lurie, I love my eagles until the day I die, but I will never spend another dollar on that organization, or any for that matter, for as long as I live. And to prove that I’m serious, I’ve already canceled my subscription to the NFL Ticket. You guys make enough money so I’m no longer adding to the pot. I wish so many more would follow my lead.

  30. ihatemikebrown says: Mar 9, 2011 9:29 AM

    Some of you are amazing. You will support these owners no matter what. It’s been proved they haven’t been negotiating in good faith. They are the ones who want to lock out the players and the players have even agreed to take less money. They just have a limit that they will give in without some proof from these owners playing poor. These players are what makes the game. The NFL is huge because of the best players in the world. There is nothing exceptional about these owners. Nobody comes to stadiums to watch them, and they are all making money. It’s a bunch of old, white billionaires trying to bleed everybody a little more to get even richer.

  31. chapnastier says: Mar 9, 2011 9:34 AM

    @ hail2theredskins

    Well said.

  32. MTLighthouse69 says: Mar 9, 2011 9:37 AM

    CJ said:”If owners are crying poor mouth because they want to save a few bucks or can’t run their organizations with any sense, then that isn’t the player’s problem.”

    Are you serious? It is the player’s problem because they are hired by the owners. It is in the player’s best interest to have every team run profitably.

  33. fin72 says: Mar 9, 2011 9:45 AM

    chapnastier says:
    Mar 9, 2011 8:37 AM
    “These players should risk the physical danger and long-term effects of playing the game”

    And they get paid very handsomely for that risk

    ____________________________________

    WRONG!! They get paid handsomly for their skill. They’re the best at what they do and still make MUCH less than baseball players and basketball players who assume very little physical risk.

  34. cali884 says: Mar 9, 2011 9:46 AM

    marty2019 says: Mar 9, 2011 8:43 AM

    It seems like the players just want to know the truth. All they are asking for is the facts. Why the owners won’t open their books is beyond me, unless they have something to hide.

    ——————————————————

    Tomorrow as soon as you walk into work, go to your boss and ask him to see his books. And when you leave his office beg for your job back.

    The owners no matter how rich they are a taking a greater risk than the players. They (owners) took risks (personal, financial, family) to become owners of a franchise and even those that have been passed down by their ancestors too, took risks to become Millionaire/Billionaires and purchase a team. It’s a business and they invested their money to make money. The players are good earners for the work they do.

    Forget about the rich teams, i.e Pats, Cowboys, Redskins, what about teams like the Jags. The rich owners are looking out for the less earning owners aswell. As for the players it’s: “I’m better than him pay me more” just look at Albert Haynesworth.

    Bottom line: The players are lucky they get a full salary. If you are as good as you say you are, take a base salary and get paid via incentives, show your worth on the field. Perfect example: Andre Johnson, he’s worth every $.

  35. panther17 says: Mar 9, 2011 9:50 AM

    ihatemikebrown

    “It’s a bunch of old, white billionaires trying to bleed everybody a little more to get even richer.”

    Everything before that statement was debatable. The players are just as greedy as the owners. Both need a pay cut. Players should take a lower ceiling/ higher floor. Owners should make more money then the highest player, but don’t need to be making enough money to feed Haiti themselves.

    That last statement that I quoted however shows a hint of racism.

  36. ihatemikebrown says: Mar 9, 2011 9:55 AM

    Many of you seem to think that because you can’t get your boss to open the books to you the players shouldn’t get to see this information. This is silly for several reasons. For one thing the players are the best at their jobs in the world and without the best players in the world, there is no NFL. Secondly, if you work for a public company, your boss already has to make the books public. Being one of the best players in the world is in no way the same as working at McDonalds. The fans come to watch the best players in the world and they are not easily replaced.

  37. eagleswin says: Mar 9, 2011 9:59 AM

    fin72 says:
    Mar 9, 2011 9:45 AM
    chapnastier says:

    WRONG!! They get paid handsomly for their skill. They’re the best at what they do and still make MUCH less than baseball players and basketball players who assume very little physical risk.

    Roster size and games played. Both Basketball and Baseball play many more games with smaller roster size. If the players are envious of basketball and baseball salaries I suggest they try to gain employment in those leagues, keeping in mind that fewer positions are available.

    If the players want to reduce the roster sizes so that there is a larger portion of the pie for each player or increase the number of games played (to say 18) so that the compensation pool is larger then salaries will increase.

  38. jfluke65 says: Mar 9, 2011 10:04 AM

    Some of you need to stop bringing up publically traded corporations in the discussion. Other than the Packers, these aren’t publically traded businesses we’re talking about. The only entity entitled to see their books is the IRS in an audit.
    I know if I were an owner, I’d refuse, just on principle, to open my books to employees. And if the league agreed to it in negotiations, I’d do like Al and sue the league.

  39. rpiotr01 says: Mar 9, 2011 10:11 AM

    Dread Pirate Roberts: Well if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.

    Vizzini: I’m afraid so. I can’t compete with you physically, and you’re no match for my brains.

  40. MTLighthouse69 says: Mar 9, 2011 10:15 AM

    fin72 said:”WRONG!! They get paid handsomly for their skill. They’re the best at what they do and still make MUCH less than baseball players and basketball players who assume very little physical risk.”

    You are comparing a sport that plays 16 games a year with MLB which plays 162 games and basketball which plays 82 games, LOL.

    Of course NFL players make less, as they should.

  41. pakrguru says: Mar 9, 2011 10:40 AM

    The players have not agreed to take less money. They now earn roughly 60% of television revenue, and are now saying they want 50%….of total revenue.

    For me, the biggest argument against the players is this:

    Last year, Brett Favre made close to $20 million dollars, to play poorly.

    In 2009, the Packers earned a net profit of $10 million, after employing people (not just players), running/maintaining a stadium, parking people, selling hot dogs, soda, beer, etc.

    Who got the better deal?

    Players have never been willing to get paid based on their performance, but team owners are paid based on how their “team” performs every year.

  42. CJ says: Mar 9, 2011 10:52 AM

    MTLighthouse69,

    Fair enough. My point was the players shouldn’t compromise if the reason the owners are losing money is because they’re mismanagin their funds.

    Obviously, that poses a problem for the players as well. But IF this is a problem that was caused by the owners, it’s silly for ownership to expect the players to be the ones to fix it by agreeing to lower the salary cap and thus giving ownership more money to mismanage. Does that make more sense?

  43. panther17 says: Mar 9, 2011 11:07 AM

    Without the owners, there is no team for the best players in the world to play on. Not everyone watches NFL because of the players. I watch to support my favorite team regardless of who is playing. When a top talent decides no matter what he wants to play for another team, I don’t switch teams. When a top talent is traded away, I don’t switch teams. My team went 2-14. I watched every game from start to finish. Paid my directtv sunday ticket bill and will have it again next year if there is football. Heck I might even try to make it down to Charlotte from PA to watch a game in person. Even if it is replacement players.

  44. hlmatty1 says: Mar 9, 2011 11:29 AM

    Pray tell…who are the ones who are negotiating in good faith and who are not when the union swore in 1987 that they were decertifying because nobody wanted a union; immediately reunionized after a deal was struck; and then in the first impasse since then, have threatened to do it again? Does anyone doubt that after doing so and then when they ultimately get a deal that they will not reconsitute as a union although Federal law prohibits such actions? Even Judge Doty would be embarassed to rule for the players this time!

    The truth is that both the players and the owners have the right to say I want to make the most money I can. The last CBA said if anyone is unhappy with the deal they can get out of it. The players knew that was possible and had included in the deal that if there was an opt-out, the last year of the deal (2010) would get rid of the salary cap — with the oft-stated threat from the players that once there is no cap there will never be a cap. The owners called the players’ bluff. Now they will have to decide whether they want to lose most of the life they have or be willing to give some back to the owners.

  45. t1mmy10 says: Mar 9, 2011 11:38 AM

    Trust goes both ways. What has the union done to prove it can be trusted with the private details of competing organizations? It’s obvious the nflpa has been the primary source for leaking info. And both sides tell half truths to the public to swing their opinion.

  46. fin72 says: Mar 9, 2011 1:32 PM

    MTLighthouse69 says:
    Mar 9, 2011 10:15 AM
    fin72 said:”WRONG!! They get paid handsomly for their skill. They’re the best at what they do and still make MUCH less than baseball players and basketball players who assume very little physical risk.”

    You are comparing a sport that plays 16 games a year with MLB which plays 162 games and basketball which plays 82 games, LOL.

    ________________________________

    LOL all you want… 1 game of NFL football is more dangerous than 162 games of baseball and 82 games of basketball COMBINED. I want football as much as anybody, but the players are what makes this product as strong as it is, and I respect the risk they take everytime the put on their uniform.

  47. panther17 says: Mar 9, 2011 3:16 PM

    If you want to talk about the risk people put themselves in for at work, there are plenty of professions that make hardly a fraction of what the lowest paid player makes yet face greater risk every day of work. The health risk doesn’t justify their inflated salaries.

  48. abshire22 says: Mar 9, 2011 3:30 PM

    fin72

    Sure the players do assume physical risk, THAT’S WHY THEY GET PAID WHAT THEY GET PAID. You act as if they are not being paid enormous amounts of money. You also seem to forget that no one is forcing them to play. It’s a choice and all the factors are presented before they DECIDE to play. The owners assume financial risk and that’s why they should make a profit. If the players don’t like it, go get a job and let the next guy cash in.

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