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NFL says it “does not profit” from sale of pink merchandise

350x-4 Reuters

With the proliferation of pink throughout the NFL uniforms and sidelines during October, the month that promotes breast cancer awareness, plenty of pink NFL gear is available to be purchased by the paying customers.

In response to an article that claims the NFL is profiting from the sale of the pink merchandise, the league says that no profit is being realized.

“The NFL does not profit from the sale of pink merchandise,” the league office explained in a statement to PFT.  “All money the NFL would normally receive from merchandise sales goes to support this program, either through direct funding to [the American Cancer Society] or covering the costs of A Crucial Catch. “

The league says that 100 percent of the net proceeds are devoted to covering the costs of the league’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign or are donated to the American Cancer Society.

The key words are “net proceeds.” On one hand, it’s technically the profit that the league otherwise realizes. On the other hand, it’s a playground for accounting practices that can make the “net proceeds” whatever the league ultimately wants them to be.

Devoting a portion of the “net proceeds” to “covering the costs” of the “A Crucial Catch” campaign provides another opportunity for the bean counters to move the beans around in ways that reach a predetermined bottom line of beans.

The reality is that the sale of pink merchandise generates revenue that pays for the materials and pays the manufacturer and pays the employees involved in the process of making and selling the products and paying for all other costs relating to the creation of the merchandise and whatever is left over is used for donation and/or funding the league’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign, which means that part of the money from the sales helps reimburse the league for expenses arising from the campaign. Without access to the accounting documents and an accountant who can figure it all out, it’s impossible to tell whether and to what extent what otherwise would be “profit” is masquerading as “expense.”

The numbers the league has provided are that, since 2009, the sale of pink merchandise has raised more than $3 million for the American Cancer Society. That’s roughly $750,000 per year. Or roughly $23,500 per team.

For a league that generates billions of dollars in revenue every year, that’s not a very big number.

Still, it’s very good that the league is promoting breast cancer awareness, especially as it relates to the urging of women over the age of 40 to be regularly screened for the disease. And folks who buy and wear the pink gear will be helping to perpetuate that message. But buying pink merchandise doesn’t appear to be a vehicle for devoting significant funds, in the grand scheme of things, to breast cancer research or the other objectives of the American Cancer Society.

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24 Responses to “NFL says it “does not profit” from sale of pink merchandise”
  1. The Buffer Zone says: Oct 14, 2012 8:59 AM

    $750,000 per year is a good chunk of change going towards a good cause.

    And the awareness raised by seeing pink all over the place on the most viewed sport/tv program is immeasurable.

    They’re doing right by it.

  2. ctp603 says: Oct 14, 2012 9:13 AM

    It’s almost impossible not to question every charity this day and age.

  3. searchingwithmygoodeyeclosed says: Oct 14, 2012 9:14 AM

    NFL fans need to buy more PINK merchandise! Great job NFL!

  4. 5150cd says: Oct 14, 2012 9:16 AM

    This is a nice thing the NFL does, but how about the NFL shows support for the literally 100’s of other types of cancer? You can’t go to the grocery store without picking up something with pink on it, I doubt breast cancer needs 100% market penetration through the month of October when all the other types get 0%.

    I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but to me, it just smacks of the NFL trying to increase women viewership.

  5. bigwaveseeker says: Oct 14, 2012 9:23 AM

    $3MM is not a small amount to raise for a single charity, even for a multi billion dollar industry. The NFL raises hundreds of millions of dollars for countless charities and many of the players also have their own charities. Instead of complaining that its not enough, just be grateful they are making an effort.

  6. piemasteruk says: Oct 14, 2012 9:27 AM

    I’m all for breast cancer awareness and am glad the NFL are supporting it. But does it really have to be for an entire month? The pink gear is such an eyesore for that long.

  7. thingamajig says: Oct 14, 2012 9:38 AM

    I’ll buy pink when they do a similar promotion with blue for prostate cancer.

  8. wheresmyjuice says: Oct 14, 2012 9:45 AM

    It’s the NFL selling to the female demo. If you think it’s anything more than that you’re kidding yourself.

  9. FinFan68 says: Oct 14, 2012 9:45 AM

    C’mon guys. The NFL is realizing a profit but it is not via direct sales unless there are some accounting shell games. The real profit is seen from their target audience. The NFL wants more women to watch the sport, go to the games, buy merchandise, etc. That is the only reason the NFL chose breast cancer rather than, say, colon cancer which likely impacts a much larger percentage of their fan base. It is all about marketing; charity is simply a byproduct. It’s good that the ACS gets some money out of it but the “donations” are write-offs for taxes.

    On another note, they are truly going overboard. Ribbons on the footballs and helmets, a painted graphic in the end-zones and goal post wraps would be sufficient along with in-stadium and broadcast announcements and merchandise sales. Putting “hooker” pink all over the uniforms is in bad taste, especially since that is NOT the color that represents the cause.

  10. lucky5936 says: Oct 14, 2012 9:47 AM

    Well you know Madden is sporting pink during the game play for most, if not all of the franchise mode, so you know the NFL put some effort into that as well. I personally am for cancer awareness. I am just confused why we only focus on one type of cancer. To me we could raise awareness each month with a different type of cancer.

  11. Rex Grossman says: Oct 14, 2012 9:49 AM

    Use pink merchandise money to cover expenses of charity so the league doesn’t have to worry about covering those expenses = Profit.

  12. deadontoilet says: Oct 14, 2012 10:05 AM

    I’m more impressed with the Play 60 campaign. Solving the obesity epidemic would do more for improving the overall health of the population than curing cancer would.

    Cancer is a frightening disease, so it gets all the media and popular attention. But obesity is what should be frightening all of us.

  13. tpa43 says: Oct 14, 2012 10:10 AM

    The individual teams profit from it

  14. klutch14u says: Oct 14, 2012 10:20 AM

    Since everyone out there seems to think and support only breast cancer maybe the NFL should start supporting something else or a different cancer that gets little exposure? How about since there isn’t a single woman that plays in the NFL they instead support prostate cancer?

    Oh yeah, they are trying to lure female watchers…..

  15. wwwfugu says: Oct 14, 2012 10:23 AM

    5150cd nailed it. Profits from an untapped market.

    Greed is good, say the NFL owners.

    Why on Earth would there be a female presence on every TV show related to the NFL? It’s not like the 0.1% cleavage that everyone of them on NFL network shows is getting men excited. The occasional Camel-toe on the sidelines is much more fun.
    It is to sell women “products”, to lure them into feeling “empowered” because they are, in their fantasies, an integral part of a multi-billion dollar empire.

    And, while I’m at it, that beast on NFL AM is damaging my eyes. When I get some spare time I’m gonna sue.

    They are not just targeting the female dollar, but the ugly female dollar especially.

    When will the owners come up with a campaign to satisfy the longing and desire of 3 billion people of China and India to give up all of their money to be a part of the NFL Experience?

    Just think, owners, “Trillionaire”… that sure has a nice ring.

  16. jwil444 says: Oct 14, 2012 10:42 AM

    Promoting it is great, putting it on the field as part of the uniform is awful.

  17. conormacleod says: Oct 14, 2012 10:58 AM

    Wow. What a bunch of dicks on here. Is it ever enough for you people? What if the NFL supported prostate cancer instead? Then you’d be complaining that heart disease is the number one killer. Or you’d say they are just pandering to the audience to sell more merchandise. I bet the people receiving the $3 mil aren’t complaining.

  18. bearfan78 says: Oct 14, 2012 11:23 AM

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is not just an NFL thing. The NFL is promoting an otherwise independent cause. Even if the NFL didn’t donate a single penny, they do more to raise awareness than any other organization. Judging by the sentiment on here which seems to believe the NFL created Breast Cancer Awareness Month to profit (either from female viewership or sale of pink merchandise), it is apparently the only exposure for this audience.

    Blame the American Cancer Society for having an entire month dedicated to one type of cancer, and for the proliferation of “pink”.

  19. brownicus says: Oct 14, 2012 12:11 PM

    Its definitely a good cause, and yes the NFL most likely chose Breast Cancer in particular to appeal to more women. If it helps other people then I don’t really have a problem if the NFL also benefits from it as a side effect. I’m sure the NFL is far from the only company to use charities to help promote themselves.

  20. CKL says: Oct 14, 2012 12:34 PM

    I’m a woman and think the whole thing is nutty. Not this charity itself , the NFL’s work with charities, or the disease which are all worthy of people’s respect and concern, but the ostentatiousness of the whole month etc. I love THE GAME. I’ve always loved THE GAME…since long before all this PC nonsense. I am sick of all catering to the fringe fans with FF, this thing, hispanic awareness month, etc. Shouldn’t there be SOME place we Neanderthals can go where PC and catering to every single human being’s feelings doesn’t rule everything? ;)

    I know it’s ultimately about money and PC street cred for the NFL and that’s their right. I guess I’m just a football purist. I would abolish all halftime shows at the SB too since they can rip the field up for the people who make their actual living on it.
    /now get off my lawn! :)

  21. cuda1234 says: Oct 14, 2012 12:35 PM

    I agree putting it in the field is too much and an entire month is too long.

    How can you fine a guy for playing in an untucked jersey or a wearing the “wrong” cap at a press-game conference then put all that pink crap on the field?

  22. broncosnative says: Oct 14, 2012 1:38 PM

    Sorry, I know its for a good cause but im not wearing pink nor would I buy anything that would collect dust before that time comes again.

  23. koenig61 says: Oct 14, 2012 3:41 PM

    Nothing against breast cancer awareness, it’s a good cause, but it would be nice if the NFL also recognized prostate cancer awareness in September, especially since more men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year than women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Also factor in the 75% of the viewing audience is male, and men are notoriously bad for not seeing their drs as often as they should. To be honest the NFL with their wearing of pink in October seems to be mostly posturing. I’d rather each team just donate 50K and also all fine money in October towards breast cancer.

  24. backindasaddle says: Oct 14, 2012 4:01 PM

    I lost a sister to breast cancer just recently. So I’m in no way insensitive to the issue. However, I must say that the breast cancer campaign is far and away the most promoted fund raising effort. It’s absolutely everywhere and is constantly intruding into our lives. We have to be subjected to an entire month of the obnoxious pink plastered all over our NFL Sunday. At work I’m expected to sponsor
    breast cancer walks for life that are seemingly everywhere and never ending. There are bumper stickers all over the place….adds on websites….adds in the newspaper etc…. It’s just non-stop in your face all the time and I’m sick of it. There are many many other deserving charities that don’t get anywhere near the exposure and funding raising that breast cancer gets. I’d like see less of a disparity and some of that fund raising powerhouse horsepower applied to other deserving causes as well.

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