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Hillenmeyer admits players refused financial info for P.R. reasons

DeMaurice Smith, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Domonique Foxworth, Sean Morey AP

Former Bears linebacker and union rep Hunter Hillenmeyer (left) has been writing columns for NBCChicago.com regarding the players’ perspective on the current labor dispute.

In his latest, Hillenmeyer, who was involved in the negotiations that fell apart 22 days ago, admits that the players refused the league’s offer of limited financial information for one reason only — P.R.

“It’s true, the NFL did offer some financial info towards the end of mediation,” Hillenmeyer writes.  “We rejected it, not because nothing is better than something, which it is not, but because the perception would then be that we got what we needed.”

Sorry, but that’s not a good enough reason.  With an affirmative P.R. campaign, the players could have gotten in front of the league’s spin and explained that, even though much more information is ultimately needed, the players decided to take a look at what the NFL was offering.  At a minimum, looking at the limited information could have made it easier to explain why the limited information wasn’t nearly enough.

And, frankly, it wasn’t nearly enough.  Listing the total profits for five years across all 32 teams and then identifying the raw number of teams that experienced a dip in profits doesn’t cut it.  The players need to be able to scrutinize profits listed as profits and profits that may be masquerading as expenses, such as salary paid to the owner or his family members, and payments to companies owned by the owner’s family.

Though Hillenmeyer suggests near the end of his column that a middle ground possibly exists between what the owners offered and the 10 years of audited financial statements that the players have consistently requested since May 2009, Hillenmeyer pooh-poohs the impact of making reduced profits.

“I doubt the data would have provided much justification for anything,” Hillenmeyer says.  “They already told us they weren’t losing money; I’m not a finance genius, but I know that’s a good thing.”

I’m not a finance genius either, but I also know that a business that is paying all of its bill without a dime of profit isn’t losing money, either — and that that’s not a good thing.

Profitability is a key factor in maintaining and building franchise value.  Reduced profits are still profits, but the drop signals a troubling trend that could result in the short term in reduced franchise value.  In the long term, it could lead to actually losing money.

In our view, it’s all P.R., on both sides.  The heart of the problem, we believe, is that the owners have decided that the dollars have grown too big to justify paying the players 50 cents of each one.  And with the money expected to mushroom as the current decade unfolds, the owners have decided to stand firm now in the hopes of avoiding the possibility of generating $20 billion in revenue and being required to pay the players $10 billion of it.

Per year.

The players still want 50 cents on the dollar, and they want justification before they’ll ever agree to take less than that.

We’ve suggested some possible solutions and we’re currently honing one of them a bit more.  There may be some merit to it, but that probably won’t stop it from being completely ignored.

Regardless, folks not directly involved in the process shouldn’t be the ones trying to come up with ideas for solving this problem.  The two sides should be working together to devise their own solutions.  If they’d spend half the time negotiating that they are on pointing fingers at each other, they’d already have this mess resolved.

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50 Responses to “Hillenmeyer admits players refused financial info for P.R. reasons”
  1. FoozieGrooler says: Apr 2, 2011 11:11 AM

    “…that the players refused the league’s offer of limited financial information for one reason only — P.R.”

    That’s not what he said at all.
    He said that they rejected it, because had they accepted the crapola the owners offered, the perception would have been that they got exactly what they asked for, and therefore needed – which they didn’t.

    Stop the spin cycle…

  2. skoalbrother says: Apr 2, 2011 11:18 AM

    The owners need to begin talking about the 2011 / 2012 season today. Let the NFLPA and everyonelse k ow that with or without unionized Players the game will go on. Focus attention on college players who will if they elect to play will have an immediate impact on the game. The owners need to come up with a salary scale. If the current players don’t want to Play for the offered amount then don’t play. Go to the CFL or maybe start their own league.

  3. gtmann says: Apr 2, 2011 11:20 AM

    If they’d spend half the time negotiating that they are on pointing fingers at each other, they’d already have this mess resolved.

    BINGO !!!!

  4. flyerscup2010 says: Apr 2, 2011 11:22 AM

    I feel like the real problem here is the amount of money involved. The owners may not want to split a $20 billion pie evenly with the players, but to me, the bottom line is that if the pie grows that big, something is seriously wrong here. Ticket prices, concession prices, and parking prices are already absurd as it is. Imagine how high they’d have to go to sustain $20 billion in revenue. At that point, I don’t care how they’re dividing the $20 billion because it’s absurd that the sport is generating that much money. It’s absurd that the sport is generating $9 billion as it is. The rich (both the owners and players) get richer, and the middle class gets shafted. Eventually they’re gonna price the majority of the country out of the sport, and every NFL stadium will look like Yankees Stadium does now: nice, shiny, brand new, and half empty because nobody can afford to be there, or at least justify paying bloated prices to have the right to sit in a seat in the elements for 3 hours when they can just sit on their more comfortable couches and watch the game for far cheaper at home in high definition.

  5. tonydehoff says: Apr 2, 2011 11:24 AM

    Somebody needs to be less concerned with public relations and more concerned with getting a deal done.

  6. sabeybaby says: Apr 2, 2011 11:29 AM

    DeMo must be very excited. In about three weeks he will have a whole new bunch of slaves coming in.

  7. hwkidan says: Apr 2, 2011 11:36 AM

    Wow, this is why you gotta blame the players. The owners are looking at long term sustainability of the product, with the economy in the tank and the stadiums they’ll have to build. And make no mistake, states are broke. The days of public funding are coming to a close. The owners see the writing on the wall, and are looking long term. The players think, “You’re making money. And if we get 10 years audited financials we’ll show you were making money for ten years too. We also might be able to embarass you, showing how much your kid is on the payroll for.” But that doesn’t show anything in regards to the future, and that’s what’s most important to the owners and the fans. SUSTAINABILITY OF THE GAME. Everything else is secondary.

  8. mhs8031 says: Apr 2, 2011 11:37 AM

    I do not have any lawyer’s jerseys in my closet and I certainly do not own a PSL in a courtroom. When the NCAA starts running three games on Sundays, the egotistical lawyering and PR posturing will seem pretty stupid.

  9. blantoncollier says: Apr 2, 2011 11:49 AM

    This is just more proof the players have viewed the courts as their end zone. They didnt want to negotiate they want to battle it out in Court.

  10. emmonsh says: Apr 2, 2011 11:50 AM

    i took a 4% cut to keep my job 2 years ago and i make less than 30 grand a year. i had no legal right to see the companys records. they are my employee.if i didnt like it i could quit. same for the loser players

  11. 2011to2020lions says: Apr 2, 2011 11:52 AM

    The owners are called owners for a reason. They have invested money into a business. There is a risk when you do that. If the owners buy their business and it flops, do you think the players will give the owners anything to keep their business going? the answer is no, because they have nothing to lose, they have nothing invested in it.

    so who does???

    Two sets of people do, the owners who invest their own money into it, hoping that their investment pays off. The other is the fans, yes you and I, the ones that invest in a good time, and family time, and items that say we support our team. because of us the owners investment pays off, and they gain a profit. Good for them!! The players or employees get paid for what they do, and great for them. but don’t hold the fans, and owners hostage!!! we are the ones with an investment. You may feel you do with your body, but like us, the owners and you we all have a choice to do something else.

  12. armchairgm9 says: Apr 2, 2011 12:01 PM

    So essentially, the players all along were going to decertify unless the NFL and owners wanted to continue with the current labor agreement or open every single book for the last 10 years and let the players see every cent that was spent. Nothing else. Sweet.

    P.S. Hillenmeyer is an idiot for putting that out there.

  13. nepatsfan83 says: Apr 2, 2011 12:03 PM

    I have to disagree with some of what your saying here. Tell me any “employees”, union or non union that has the right to see what owners are paying their family members??? It is their business, they bought the team with their money. Last time I checked when Bob Kraft bought the team, the players didn’t fork over any of the $175 million to purchase the team. Over the last 17 years he invested his money to take the least-valuable franchise at the time and build them into one of the most valuable franchises today. Since when is that a bad thing? Isn’t that what are country was built on?

    I know the players are a big part of the NFL’s success, but they have no right (no employee of any company does unless the company is a publicly traded one) to scrutinize management teams payrolls or even expenses.

    The players were offered a salary cap of $141 million for the 2011 season. That is an 11% increase over 2009. People in the real world are getting in the 2%-3% range for raises (if they are lucky) on much smaller salaries. So really no pity from me.

  14. tednancy says: Apr 2, 2011 12:05 PM

    I know how to resolve this: lock the players out until they agree to the owners reasonable terms.

    Even if it means losing some games this year, it’s increasingly clear that a win for the owners equals a win for the game equals a win for the fans.

    If you like the competitive structure of the NFL and want to see the NFL remain balanced (e.g. unlike MLB) you have to root for the owners, even if we have to sacrifice some games.

  15. warmachine2112 says: Apr 2, 2011 12:10 PM

    What a marvelous act of self-sabotage! It’s been in the public domain and therefore would be virtually impossible to erase completely.

    About that catchphrase “Smarter than the average bear”…

  16. buccaboo says: Apr 2, 2011 12:13 PM

    I don’t know of ANY privately owned company that would divuldge financial information to their employees for the reasons stated here. Nor should they!
    If my employees told me they were going to walk out if I didn’t show them my books then I’d say, see ya!
    That information is private.

  17. parkerfly says: Apr 2, 2011 12:17 PM

    If the PA was concerned about P.R. he wouldn’t have written that column. Not too bright IMO.
    And again, opening the books fully won’t help anything. Even though some teams may be/are making less money than before, they’re all still making money and as long as that’s the case the union isn’t given any money back. They’d have to be in a loss situation before there was any chance of that happening.
    If they don’t win in court and the lockout sticks then they’ll definitely be giving some back.

  18. nflfan101 says: Apr 2, 2011 12:17 PM

    I now believe that this whole mess is to give D. Smith cover.

    The owners are adamant that they have to reduce the amount that they gave the players in the last CBA. Smith knows that if he negotiated, he would have to reduce the players portion in order to reach any settlement.

    Instead of trying to determine if there were other ways to either make up for a reduction or other benefits that players wanted that he could get in exchange for the reduction, he chose to go to court and either (1) win an anti-trust case and destroy the NFL by getting rid of all rules concerning player employment, or (2) lose and have a court force a settlement.

    If the anti-trust case is successful, then Smith can claim that he got more money for the wealthy Manning, Brady, etc. If a court imposes a settlement, then Smith can claim that he tried, but that it is those mean old judges that cost the players money. Either way, Smith wins and, I believe, the players lose.

    This whole mess is not about helping players, but protecting Smith.

  19. endzonezombie says: Apr 2, 2011 12:18 PM

    The headline for this article is completely misleading. The NFLPA was told by its financial advisors that what the league was offering was insufficient. The NFLPA therefore did not refuse it for PR purposes – they refused it on advice of their counsel. Whatever Hillenmeyer says does not come from Smith or the Execuitive Committee who actually made the decisions. He is just a rep trying to posture himself as an insider. He is not. It won’t be the first time that a player makes a misleading or misinformed statement when the media presses him.

  20. welzy says: Apr 2, 2011 12:19 PM

    I have no problem at all with the owners saying they are not satisfied with giving 60% of their money to the employees. Most NFL players say they would play for free. Prove it.

  21. thefiesty1 says: Apr 2, 2011 12:20 PM

    The players screwed up from day one. Their union* sold them down the river without a paddle. No matter what they asked for it would NEVER be enough. They brought this on themselves. Now live with or get back to the table and beg for forgiveness.

  22. flyerscup2010 says: Apr 2, 2011 12:27 PM

    “but don’t hold the fans, and owners hostage!!!”

    it’s a serious stretch to say the players are holding the owners hostage here. if anything, they’re both definitely holding the fans hostage. but like the owners and players, as you noted, we have a choice to do something else. like watch the other three major sports.

  23. flyerscup2010 says: Apr 2, 2011 12:34 PM

    “If you like the competitive structure of the NFL and want to see the NFL remain balanced (e.g. unlike MLB) you have to root for the owners, even if we have to sacrifice some games.”

    Starting with…moving the kickoffs to the 35 yard line to…make the game less competitive?

    I’m not rooting for either of them. I think the owners have not been negotiating in good faith this entire time, initially hoping to sit on their TV lockout insurance money and strongarm the players into a deal favorable for the owners. They lost the lockout insurance and lost their leverage.

    I think the players now are hoping to do a similar thing through the courts, knowing that they probably have the ability to win the court cases they’re throwing at the owners right now. For the time being, that gives them leverage.

    It’s just frustrating to see how focused on applying the maximum amount of leverage possible to each other rather than just negotiating. The NFLPA decertifying and the owners locking the players out anyway didn’t have to end negotiations. I don’t get the feeling that either side has any interest in negotiating anymore now though.

  24. tednancy says: Apr 2, 2011 12:37 PM

    nflfan101 says: Apr 2, 2011 12:17 PM

    I now believe that this whole mess is to give D. Smith cover.

    The owners are adamant that they have to reduce the amount that they gave the players in the last CBA. Smith knows that if he negotiated, he would have to reduce the players portion in order to reach any settlement.

    Instead of trying to determine if there were other ways to either make up for a reduction or other benefits that players wanted that he could get in exchange for the reduction, he chose to go to court and either (1) win an anti-trust case and destroy the NFL by getting rid of all rules concerning player employment, or (2) lose and have a court force a settlement.

    If the anti-trust case is successful, then Smith can claim that he got more money for the wealthy Manning, Brady, etc. If a court imposes a settlement, then Smith can claim that he tried, but that it is those mean old judges that cost the players money. Either way, Smith wins and, I believe, the players lose.

    This whole mess is not about helping players, but protecting Smith.

    *********************************

    Excellent point. DeSmith is trying to make a name for himself. He thinks he’s the next Marvin Miller. I hope he gets crushed in court and then the union gets broken and takes the NFL’s lowest offer.

    Why? Because I love football.

  25. rustydangler says: Apr 2, 2011 12:41 PM

    I really don’t get why alot of people think that the owners deserved more than 50% of the profit. All of these owners are rich, most of the players are wealthy.
    Players are out there getting banged up, broken bones, brain damage, and then released. Owners are sitting up in the owners box collecting their money.
    I really hope that the union gets its decert. on april 6. Privatly owned and operated teams will mean no cap in the future since there is no collective agreement. Once the price tag for the number 1 pick reaches 150? 200 million? for 7 years on an unproven player they’ll beg the union to come back and get a cap in place.
    I would be devistated if there is no season next year, but the time is now. Stick to your guns NFLPA, the owners will rape you if you cave.

  26. prrbrr says: Apr 2, 2011 12:55 PM

    Mike your argument that the players need to see more financial data is just ridiculous. No other privately run business completely opens the books to see what the P and L sheet looks like. Heck even the publicly owned companies that are laying people off are holding record amounts of cash in the bank, 3-4 trillion, and only giving 2-3% raises. Why are football players so entitled, because of shortened careers, or potential injuries? Face it the players have little moral ground to stand on. Let them decertify and kill the golden goose. Interesting article in the WSJ (posted on PFT Hardball) that looked at the decline of youth baseball….after the 94-95 strike. Oh the parallels to that time and what would be future of baseball are so similar to football right now. Players on PE drugs, money money money, and off field incidents. The 2010 season very well could have been the pinnacle of the sport, unfortunately it was self induced by greed.

  27. larryfitzgerald4mvp says: Apr 2, 2011 1:00 PM

    I have to agree with my fellow commenters, that you really put a spin on this story. Frankly, i’m getting kind of sick that you repeatedly do this on stories involving players, but not owners.

    I understand that not having football next season would be bad for you, but that does not mean you should portray one side as something that they are not. Hopefully you will be more objective on future stories.

  28. beeviss says: Apr 2, 2011 1:07 PM

    Tell these players to get lost and let another union form for players that want to play football and not ruin the game with greed. They have no right to see ownership books. Do we look at their checkbooks to see why they’re broke? Morons like Dez Bryant spend hundreds of thousands on jewelry before they are even drafted yet they think they know what the owners, who built the league, should do with their money?

    Get lost players! Bring on the replacements. This is a union that is way out of control. They need to realize they represent “replaceable employees.”

  29. FinFan68 says: Apr 2, 2011 1:20 PM

    @endzonezombie:
    “He is just a rep trying to posture himself as an insider. He is not.”

    Are you serious? Do you actually read any of this stuff or do you just cherry-pick the stuff that you think supports your position? The article clearly states “Hillenmeyer, who was involved in the negotiations that fell apart 22 days ago…” If he is not an “insider” as it pertains to this topic, please tell us who is.

  30. kniddynamite says: Apr 2, 2011 1:33 PM

    The players stopped being typical employees when the NFL decided they’d rather have their compensation tied to the league’s revenues rather than uncapped and determined by the true market value of their abilities. Since the players’ wages are determined by a cut of the revenue, they have every right to ask for proof that the NFL has employed their best efforts in good faith to maximize the revenues from which the players’ cut is derived.

    Of course, as the decision on the league’s lock-out insurance tells us, the NFL has already shown pretty complete disregard for their responsibility to maximize these revenues.

    What’s more, in the most recent CBA, in return for including the franchises’ local revenue streams in the total revenue calculation from which the players get their cut, they secured the ability to take credit deductions for league and franchise expenses off the top of the total revenue, amounting to around $1 billion dollars each year. Some %59.6 percent of that money being used to pay for the NFL’s operating costs comes from the players’ cut.

    How many other businesses do you know of that ask a party to partner in their venture to the tune of over half-a-billion a year, and then come back a few years later asking to double the contribution, all the while refusing to account for how the prior investment in operations was spent?

    Whether the owners like it or not, when they tied the players’ compensation to revenue and asked for and received contributions from their cut to pay for operating costs, they entered into a limited partnership with the players in a multi-billion dollar venture, (and they’ve already been determined to have breached the covenant of that partnership.)

  31. CKL says: Apr 2, 2011 1:47 PM

    What in the bleep is wrong with owners paying themselves salaries I want to know????
    I love people who think anyone who owns or runs a business just sits on their fannies and watches everyone make their money for them. Sure there are corrupt CEOs and managers such who don’t deserve a dime because they are major scamming sleazebags…but that’s an unfair generalization and it’s also unfair to say that if you OWN a business you shouldn’t pay yourself anything for running it. There are also NFL players who aren’t worth 10 cents either if by “worth” we mean achieving to the level of their compensation but due to their cap hits it isn’t practical to cut them.

  32. realfann says: Apr 2, 2011 2:08 PM

    PFT is forgetting the Packers. They are not run to maximize profit.

    The rest of you are forgetting that savvy businessmen sell businesses that are under performing.

    If franchises were REALLY losing money and the owners were REALLY not getting sufficient return then teams would be for sale and the price of buying a team would be going down.

    Not hardly.

    There’s a long, long line of folks begging to buy themselves a football team but the current owners refuse to sell. Refuse to even talk about selling.

    Look at what the owners are doing, NOT what they are saying. And what they’re doing to holding onto their teams.

    Insufficient return on investment my ass.

    Jurry Jones paid $150m for the Cowboys that are now worth over a billion plus he rakes in 10′s of millions in pure profit every year plus he pays himself millions for be GM. The guy is rolling in money.

    Go ask him how much money he made out of the last Superbowl.

  33. alxln says: Apr 2, 2011 2:31 PM

    The reason why owners should always get a bigger piece of the pie is the financial risk they took when acquiring the team. See, in any business, it’s the financial risk that always generates the greatest reward, not the physical risk. Sure, the players are prone to physical injuries, but so are construction workers, police man and military personnel. You don’t see them getting paid millions of dollars to protect them, and they don’t whine about it either. The players should realize that and appreciate what the owners have done with their teams in term of taking a risk and growing the NFL to the multi-billion business it is today.

  34. CKL says: Apr 2, 2011 2:46 PM

    realfann…selling a team isn’t as simple as just putting it on the market and I am sure you are aware of that. No other private business requires a majority of the other business owners to approve their purchase nor do they require them to not own certain other types of businesses (unless they were grandfathered like the Rooneys for example) nor do they have requirements for % of ownership, etc. Don’t make it sound like you can just put the team on e-bay or something. :)

    Something is “worth” what someone will pay for it, no more and no less. They may be “valued” at a certain level with assets, income, etc projected but that’s meaningless unless you can get someone to pay it. Just like the govt “valuing” your house at some outrageous $$$ for property tax purposes, but good luck finding someone actually in the market who will pay that for it.

    There’s a difference between not making as much profit as you believe you should and could and having enough headaches to the point you sell. I am guessing you have not owner or run a business or made financial type decisions for one or you wouldn’t be arguing in that vein unless you were trying to stir the pot.

    Regardless, JJ is one of the owners who, like some players, should be seen and not heard. He’s not a guy who I believe cares much about the good of the GAME or the LEAGUE. He’s an outlier, just like some of the players who are tools are outliers.

  35. sml1950 says: Apr 2, 2011 2:58 PM

    OTG, this is just another example of why the players should ALL go home shut their doors and become invisible. They have no idea of what a “real”union is nor how to negotiate for the true rank and file.

    It will be interesting to see how many of these players go into business ownership after their career is over. I wonder what they’ll say when their employees want to form a union and become a”partner” in that business.

  36. beeviss says: Apr 2, 2011 3:21 PM

    @kniddydynamite, if you think removing the cap would be good for the league and/or the players, you’re crazy. As it stands now, every team has to spend a certain amount, over $100 million. If it goes uncapped, there are plenty of teams that wouldn’t spend half that. Sure, you’d have a few that would spend double but you’re kidding yourself to think the overall player compensation wouldn’t be lower.

    You’d also see plenty of teams either move or become complete doormats. Buffalo, Tampa, Jacksonville, KC, Minnesota, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnatti, Carolina and Tennessee would all slash payroll significantly.

  37. southmo says: Apr 2, 2011 4:13 PM

    Had my first comment deleted. Awesome. Here, I’ll say it with less disdain:

    The NFL’s last offer to the players included the profit/loss statement of each team, presented by a neutral auditor approved by both the NFL and the Players Union.

    The above article states the NFL only wanted to show the players “total profits for five years across all 32 teams and then identifying the raw number of teams that experienced a dip in profits doesn’t cut it.”

    That is incorrect, just as claiming the owners were pushing 18 games, is no longer correct. The owners caved on that demand as well.

    In other words, the owners were offering compromise positions while the players walked away to sue in court, evidently for Public Relations reasons.

    Well, public relation wise, showing the world you have no interest in working out a deal, is NOT going to win you any kudos.

  38. chapnastier says: Apr 2, 2011 5:03 PM

    Get off of the players jock! What the owners offered was above and beyond enough and MORE than they are required to provide by law. This bias is crapola.

  39. jebdamone says: Apr 2, 2011 5:59 PM

    is it interesting that the owners were offering five years of statements and the original CBA was signed five years ago? is it hard to believe that during the original litigation, before the signing the owners considered this knowing they could opt out three years later?
    “well boys, we got five years to make this sh*t look good so lets get creative.”

  40. jebdamone says: Apr 2, 2011 6:08 PM

    people that continuously talk about what the nfl has offered, or what the nfl has conceded crack me up. the nfl should not be doing the offering nor will they be the ones conceding anything! why? because they are the ones that opted out of the contract! they are the ones that want more. the players are ready to play and have maintained that all along. any concession being made will be on the side of the players and any offer that the players accept will most likely be a lesser one than they already enjoy in every way. this is not a strike, the players are not unhappy, this is a lockout, it is the owners that want more!

  41. certtified49er says: Apr 2, 2011 7:13 PM

    OK, real quick update for some people on here who don’t understand what a CBA is (collective bargaining agreement. ) So if you were regular 9-5 person you probably never had a CBA. You just had a job offer. The players don’t want to take pay-cuts when owners profitability is going through the roof. Now understand the gap between the Richest owner and poorest owner is no where near as significant as the gap between players. Hillenmeyer is dumb for putting it out there, but we already know both sides are getting ridiculous with their P.R. strategy’s. The owners asked for to much and they realize that now. The players received the better end of deal last CBA and know whatever they lose they won’t be getting back. All wrapped in a nut shell both sides need to get back to the tables and get a deal done. Its a marriage where nobody wins and the kids suffer. The NFL needs the PLAYERS and the PLAYERS need the NFL. Now lets see if they can reach a common ground after Apr 6, because litigation could take years.

  42. prrbrr says: Apr 2, 2011 7:34 PM

    Gene Upshaw is turning in his grave

  43. cmr123 says: Apr 2, 2011 7:37 PM

    SIMPLE FIX

    BOYCOTT
    BOYCOTT
    BOYCOTT

    IF PFT TALK COULD GET ENOUGH PEOPLE TO CANCEL DIRECT TV NFL TICKET, CANCEL TICKETS ETC, THIS WOULD GET SOLVED IN 1 WEEK.

  44. R.H. says: Apr 2, 2011 7:58 PM

    armchairgm9, Hillenmeyer was not an idiot for putting it out there. It clearly shows that the players and the Association are either not on the same page or something happen in which they backed off from asking to see the books.

    I respect the fact that he described what was going on and not providing bluster and tough talk. If the players want to knock down the owners and make any headway, De Smith has to really “sell” the players on the gameplan vs. the owners.

    It sounds like not all of the players are on board, or have reservations on how it will look in public when it comes to the fans’ perspective of both sides.

  45. vicksbitch says: Apr 2, 2011 9:38 PM

    So many posts here attacking the Players’ position miss fundamental points:
    1.When posters compare their work situation to the players (If you don’t like it, so what I do…quit) miss the point that the Owners control a monopoly. An NFL player cannot quit and go somewhere else because he is under contract (a one sided contract that binds him but that the owners can get out of almost at will) and that even if he could quit, there is nowhere else to go and ply his trade.
    2. A poster says that he took a pay cut and did not see his employer’s books. I do not know if he is in a union but, if he was, the union would have had the right to agree to such a reduction or veto it and, if they had agreed it, they would almost certainly have been shown compelling financial justification for the pay cut by the Employer, that is how reasonable employers work with unions.
    3. The argument that what the books say is irrelevant anyway because the problem is in the future, owners have to build new stadia and they will not be funded by states or cities any more so the owners need the cash, is tenuous. Firstly, the owners themselves say they need a new CBA because of what is in their books then refuse to produce any evidence. Secondly, there are no more than 6 or 7 franchises who need a new stadium and at least one of them will get it given to them for moving to Los Angeles. It is hard to claim that billionaire owners now deserve a financial break because they don’t get a $300M – $500M subsidy from their local government. Here is an idea, why not force the wealthy owners who somehow got taxpayers’ money to fund their new stadium (one step forward Mr Lurie) to contribute to the teams who have to build one without such support.
    4. When people talk about wealthy owners versus wealthy players, it is worth bearing in mind that the average salary for a player was $770,000 in 2009 (and the average career 3.3 years). Given the colossal sums earned by the top 10% of players who also tend to have the longest careers, many of the players we are talking about have total career earnings of not much more than $1M.

  46. vicksbitch says: Apr 2, 2011 9:45 PM

    Southmo:
    You say:
    “The NFL’s last offer to the players included the profit/loss statement of each team, presented by a neutral auditor approved by both the NFL and the Players Union”
    You still do not explain why the owners will not present the data that is the cornerstone of their whole argument. Nor how the neutral auditor can comment on partial data taken out of its full context. No profit and loss statement can be understood without all supporting data and notes.
    You also say:
    “just as claiming the owners were pushing 18 games, is no longer correct. The owners caved on that demand as well”
    No they did not, they just delayed it for a couple of years..

  47. southmo says: Apr 2, 2011 10:24 PM

    Vicksbitch,

    1. About the 18 games you said, “they just delayed it for a couple of years.”
    FACT: The NFL’s proposal ALSO agreed to NEVER have an 18-game schedule unless the union also approved it. Therefore if the union doesn’t want it, there will never be an 18-game schedule.

    2. You said, “you still do not explain why the owners will not present the data that is the cornerstone of their whole argument. Nor how the neutral auditor can comment on partial data taken out of its full context. No profit and loss statement can be understood without all supporting data and notes”
    FACT: I wasn’t talking about that. I was referring to the false claim that the owners won’t release financials on individual teams, when that’s precisely what they offered to do.
    FACT II: Profit/Loss IS the cornerstone of the NFL’s whole argument.
    FACT III: The neutral auditor would have to see the books, not partial data, and the neutral auditor would be the one who put together the profit/loss statements for the players.
    FACT IV: The players want to see all of it, so they can point out that the owners are wasting money here or there, and use that as an excuse not to accept any changes to the CBA, which is what happened in the NBA when they opened their books.

    FACT V: (the big one) The auditor, the financials on each team, and the 18-game concession (plus all the concessions on health insurance and fewer practices and mini-camps)… were movements by the NFL owners toward the position of the players.

    It was never meant to be a final offer. As the owners said later, they expected the Players Union to counter offer.

    Instead of making a counter-offer, and eventually working out a compromise position, the players had no intention of compromising on anything. They went to court hoping for the big enchilada.

    That’s why I’m not on the NFLPA side right now. They did not compromise or bargain. They walked away from the table, and put the game of football as we know it at risk.

    For guys already making that much, it smacks of hubris.

  48. southmo says: Apr 2, 2011 10:49 PM

    vicksbitch
    about those other fundamental points we miss, we don’t really miss these, we just disagree. Using your numbers:

    1.They can quit anytime they want and go play for Canada or the UFL or a semi-pro team. What everyone really means by “monopoly” is that the Players can’t go play football for the same amount of MONEY. It’s true they can’t make the same money elsewhere, but then, that’s why most of us are a little irritated when they play the victim. A job that pays that well, is an awfully privileged position.

    And about those contracts, the players were also the ones who willingly signed a contract that, for instance, requires them to pay back a signing bonus if they quit. This might seem unfair to them, but the real world has such clauses too.

    2. I don’t think unions can simply veto a company’s pay scale. Sometimes a grievance board can hear a case when an individual employee has his wages cut for a particular reason. And I think I’m right in saying most unions don’t see all the books, but I’m sure they try just like the NFLPA is trying.

    3. First, the owners had an opt out clause in the CBA which they exercised. They had every right to exercise it and to say why. Or not say why. And they have shown evidence, just not enough to suit the players. They’ve offered to show more. Second, the owners DO contribute to those other teams through revenue sharing. Ironically, that’s one of the things the players are trying to stop through their anti-trust action.

    4. So only earning a million bucks in three years at the veteran minimum (playing a sport mind you, not working construction) is why I should feel sorry for the players? Hmmm…. That’s hard. Even if they lose in court, those guys are going to make out pretty well. Maybe everyone at Microsoft should go on strike because Bill Gates is too wealthy?

  49. FinFan68 says: Apr 2, 2011 11:30 PM

    Vicksbitch,
    The NFL is not a monopoly. These players are perfectly capable of walking away and taking their talents to the UFL. It is the same kind of football (not in a foreign country, not on a smaller field, etc.) The player would only forfeit any part of bonuses received as per their individual contracts. They are not hindered in any other way; they just can’t go to another NFL team.

    Increasing revenue does not necessarily mean profits are increasing as well. The assertion that the NFL is making huge profits would require the same “books” that the union says they need. The NFL has shown that profit margins are on the decline. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this trend, if left unchecked, will eventually result in profit losses. To wait until you are in the red before taking action is stupid.

    The average career length is 3.5 years because it factors in hundreds of players every year that are lucky enough to get a chance but not talented enough to stay in the NFL. Rosters start out over 80 players every year and every team gets that down to 53. The rest that don’t make it count as less than 10% of a year. That number is the union’s way of making their plight seem worse than it is.

  50. tompapp1 says: Apr 3, 2011 12:16 PM

    Mike you are losing the battle of objectivity. You seem to try to be objective but when you summarize its always with spin in favor of the owners. Your credibility has truly become questionable when its opinion you offer in regards to this mess. It does give the aura of someone with an agenda beyond examining the issue. This is a shame because you have done some very good work on this matter when you are not using your opinion to make the owners look better than the players.

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