We’ve seen and heard more than a few media members suggest that a lost preseason causes only the owners to lose significant dollars because the players don’t get game checks until the regular season begins. It’s not an accurate characterization of the true consequences of a canceled slate of exhibition games.
As NFL spokesman Greg Aiello pointed out earlier this week on Twitter, the revenue generated during the preseason funds the salary cap, which in turn funds those game checks. In other words, the game checks are higher than they otherwise would be, given the inclusion of roughly $800 million per year into the pot of total revenue.
Assuming that the players get a 48-percent share of all revenue under a new CBA, a lost preseason would equate to $384 million in losses for the players, and $416 million in losses for the owners.
The losses begin soon, if/when the NFL is required to scuttle preseason games. And because the players are now focused more on total dollars and less on percentages, the dip in total dollars resulting from lost preseason games necessarily will impact the deal that the parties are discussing.
Thus, there’s an equal incentive for both parties to save the preseason. Meaningless to the rest of us, those non-game games with the full-price tickets and network ratings that outperform regular-season baseball have great meaning not only to the owners, but also to the players.
Even if the players don’t truly get paid for those games until September.