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Arbitrator forces NFL to return more than $100 million to salary pool

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The NFL has had plenty of public embarrassments in recent years. Here’s one that remained under the radar, until recently.

According to Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal, arbitrator Stephen Burbank has found that owners mischaracterized millions in ticket revenue by creating an improper exemption. The NFL Players Assocation believes that the shortfall exceeds $100 million; this means that more than $50 million will be added to the total, league-wide salary cap.

“They created an exemption out of a fiction and they got caught,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Futterman.

The league called it a “technical accounting issue under the CBA involving the funding of stadium construction and renovation projects.”

As explained by Futterman, the controversy arose from a term in the labor deal that allows teams to exclude certain sums from the vat of money that determines the salary cap. Burbank found that the league created another category of funds that isn’t contemplated by the CBA. Since the money didn’t fit into any of the recognized categories, the money should have been included in the pool that determines the salary cap.

“People have become accustomed to how we protect our rights when it comes to player discipline,” Smith said. “We are equally diligent when it comes to getting our share of revenues.”

The NFLPA understandably characterizes the issue as catching the league trying to pull a fast one. The league understandably says it was an accident. The bottom line is that millions will now flow from the league to the players, driving up the salary cap by at least $1.5 million for each of the league’s 32 teams.

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87 Responses to “Arbitrator forces NFL to return more than $100 million to salary pool”
  1. musicfootballprogramming says: Feb 22, 2016 11:43 PM

    The NFL is run by dishonest crooks.

    My team’s owner, Kraft, is as guilty as anyone (if not more so). He’s paying for his support of Goodell The Inept now.

  2. broncosrchamps says: Feb 22, 2016 11:43 PM

    Elway called Goodell and said i just need 1.5 million more can you help us out? CHA CHING!

  3. jvw1982 says: Feb 22, 2016 11:43 PM

    If they caught them stealing 100 million that means the true number is closer to 300 million…..Billionaires smh

  4. terrygca says: Feb 22, 2016 11:44 PM

    I can’t reveal my sources, but I heard it was a confusing rebate plan originated by the Browns.

  5. veddermn8 says: Feb 22, 2016 11:46 PM

    Seems like the funds should be retroactively given to the players in previous years when the money was withheld. There are probably some players whose career ended by injury or practice squad guys who just didnt stick on with the team that could use the money.

  6. hrmlss says: Feb 22, 2016 11:47 PM

    Wow, so every team can now sign a back up QB like Teddy Bear Bilgewater. Thanks for the update.

  7. flamethrower101 says: Feb 22, 2016 11:48 PM

    This is probably the NFL’s worst legal loss under Goodell (not counting the pending concussion litigation) because now it directly involves owners money. If Goodell had gotten into terrible standing w/ owners before this just by botching a DV case, imagine the tongue lashing this’ll get him

  8. wearewhowethoughtwewere says: Feb 22, 2016 11:49 PM

    Mark Cuban looks more prescient every day…

  9. fordmandalay says: Feb 22, 2016 11:50 PM

    Wow, billionaire owners in a business making billions of dollars in profit wind up cheating their workers out of every possible dollar they can steal. Shocker.

  10. redrew says: Feb 22, 2016 11:50 PM

    Way to protect the integrity of the game, Roger.
    Ripping off players, manufacturing evidence…..please owners, end our national nightmare and fire this clown.

  11. nickinneohio says: Feb 22, 2016 11:55 PM

    And this entity still has non profit status?
    Wow!! Sign me up!!!

  12. massappeal12345 says: Feb 22, 2016 11:58 PM

    goodell should have been more that generally aware that the syndicate was trying to steal money.

    Off with his head.

  13. charger383 says: Feb 23, 2016 12:00 AM

    all owners and Goodell are to be fined $10,000,826.06 each and required to
    dress in throwback clothes. The money
    will be part of the new stadium fund

  14. eddievortex says: Feb 23, 2016 12:02 AM

    Just think in 9 days it will be March 3rd, when the NFL vs Brady saga goes back to court. If the Federal Appeals Court upholds Judge Berman’s decision, and he’s only been overturned 8% of the time, what happens to Roger “Mr. Integrity” Goodell then?

    All I know is if I made an error such as that on my taxes, I don’t think I’d be sitting here now.

  15. chawk12thman says: Feb 23, 2016 12:03 AM

    Thought about how little this is in the big picture, but how big it is in principle. Have decided to call this:

    “Chump Change”

  16. eddievortex says: Feb 23, 2016 12:05 AM

    nickinneohio says:
    Feb 22, 2016 11:55 PM

    And this entity still has non profit status?
    Wow!! Sign me up!!!
    ______________________________

    Not anymore Nick…That’s why the NFL gave up their 501c status, that way they don’t have to give us Goodell’s salary figures, or the amount of $ the league or the owners are making…

  17. duster1982 says: Feb 23, 2016 12:05 AM

    I’m actually starting to root for this league to blow up and fail.

  18. PhD says: Feb 23, 2016 12:08 AM

    The funny thing is that most people think it’s just with football. Wake up. You’re living in an Oligarchy now.

  19. tmsclade says: Feb 23, 2016 12:17 AM

    nickinneohio says:
    Feb 22, 2016 11:55 PM
    And this entity still has non profit status?
    Wow!! Sign me up!!!
    ______________________________

    The NFL league office has given up their non-profit status.

  20. mgmac says: Feb 23, 2016 12:24 AM

    Years ago this would have been unbelievable, not now.

  21. theseekeroffun says: Feb 23, 2016 12:26 AM

    Quite obvious from the post’s that none of you own a company. However, you all have jobs!
    Please thank your employer for taking a risk.
    SMH!!!!!

  22. randomcommenter says: Feb 23, 2016 12:30 AM

    If i’m an owner, first thing i’m doing is re-calculating Goodell’s bonus and demanding a refund.

    He’s totally incompetent. Not only does he lose in court repeatedly, but he allowed the narrative on concussions to become more hyperbole than science.

    The science on concussion is still a huge question mark but Goodell has allowed a false narrative go forward that says play football = concussion = death.

  23. 6thsense10 says: Feb 23, 2016 12:44 AM

    The NFL behind close doors is ran similar to how the whole deflategate fiasco was ran. This is a very dirty group of billionaire.

    Who the heck colludes to keep a salary cap during an uncapped year and then publicly on the record acts like they were somehow wronged because a couple of teams didn’t go along with it. I’m looking at you Jim Mara.

    During the owner’s lockout in which the owners somehow convinced a majority of fans that players were being greedy I caught so much flack for siding with the players. The owners were making record profits then yet they wanted more. And uninformed fans blamed the players who didn’t even strike. SMH.

  24. 6thsense10 says: Feb 23, 2016 12:56 AM

    redrew says:
    Feb 22, 2016 11:50 PM
    Way to protect the integrity of the game, Roger.
    Ripping off players, manufacturing evidence…..please owners, end our national nightmare and fire this clown.
    —–‘
    I despise Goodell as much as the next man but come on now….you have to realize by now it’s truly the owners behind most of the embarrassing nonsense the league has gone through during his reign. Goodell is the ultimate yes man with little integrity. By the way someone with impeccable integrity doesn’t have to throw the word out every 5 minutes like Goodell does….In any case Goodell is a waffling yes man and deserves no respect.

    Let’s take the Ray Rice case for example. Everyone was upset that Rice only got two games. Goodell was feeling the heat. So what does he do? He lied and said Rice with held information and used that lie to suspend him indefinitely. Now a commissioner with integrity would have stood up in front of the cameras….said I made a grave mistake giving only a 2 game suspension however I cannot now go back and hand a harsher penalty but going forward here is how we will improve….No Goodell is just an empty suit. It’s the owners running this show using their well compensated empty suit as a shield. So it’s useless to ask them to do anything to combat Goodell’so ineptitude because it’s really theirs.

  25. joseferreira1967 says: Feb 23, 2016 12:58 AM

    There are so many aspects of this story that are wrong that it’s difficult to pick one.

    I love the game…but most of these owners are poor excuses of human beings, hence why they have an incompetent moronic puppet fool for a comissionner!!!

    The players are not saints but at least they put their body on the line for these owners and the fans. They deserve to be respected, if for nothing else, for that.

    As I see it, the owners and all of the people at Park Avenue deserve contempt and vilification for that is what they are…villains!!! Destroyers of the greatest sport on earth and they WILL be accountable.

  26. mtygringo says: Feb 23, 2016 12:59 AM

    INTEGRITY of the Game…Integrity = the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Hearing Goodell say this word makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth.

  27. ebdug says: Feb 23, 2016 1:22 AM

    “They created an exemption out of a fiction and they got caught”

    Makes you wonder what they got away with.

  28. kcl10 says: Feb 23, 2016 1:22 AM

    You mean a bunch of rich guys tried to steal every last red cent they could get their grubby hands on? Color me surprised.

  29. maverick2560 says: Feb 23, 2016 1:44 AM

    If I am a player that is no longer in league but played during the years
    the money was not properly allocated do I have a right to that money?

  30. crabwasheld says: Feb 23, 2016 2:17 AM

    Shocking… An American billionaire is a dishonest, selfish crook. I never would have imagined.

  31. whodey420 says: Feb 23, 2016 2:38 AM

    A “non profit” organization skewing the books by $100 million?! Naaahhh! No way that happened! :/

  32. RegisHawk says: Feb 23, 2016 4:29 AM

    Gold back-scratchers all around!!!

  33. officialgame says: Feb 23, 2016 5:51 AM

    Just another example of unfettered greed by the 1% I, Me, Mine club.

  34. nflofficeadmin says: Feb 23, 2016 5:55 AM

    For some teams the salary floor number is more important than the cap number since they historically don’t even come close to the cap. Just as important to players.

  35. lscottman3 says: Feb 23, 2016 6:18 AM

    So do they now take back some of Roger’s “Bonus”

    That fraud

  36. rootpain says: Feb 23, 2016 6:43 AM

    Well now what? The NFL will be ruined! Oh those poor owners, however will they cope?

  37. vicksbitch says: Feb 23, 2016 6:48 AM

    Everything about Goodell and how this league is run is shady. They are immoral and unethical, watch what is happening at FIFA and wait for the same at NFL HQ

  38. jbloggs13 says: Feb 23, 2016 7:06 AM

    This scam is fairly simple. I am more than confident the owners have been working much more sophisticated to fleece the players.

    It demands an open book audit going back to 2000. Plenty of money has likely been shifted.

  39. vikingforlife says: Feb 23, 2016 7:32 AM

    Who is actually surprised by this?? I’d also like to see the books on the “charities” the $$$ goes to when all these players get fined every time they have a little incident on the field, wouldn’t you?? I bet that’s pretty interesting, because I’m guessing that’s not so pretty or on the “up and up” either! (I’m shaking my head as I write this).

  40. j0esixpack says: Feb 23, 2016 7:36 AM

    Add this to yet another of Goodell and the owners long list of lies

    At this point I’d love to see the NFLPA start their own league

    It would be a lot more fair than the NFL

  41. rportkid says: Feb 23, 2016 7:55 AM

    I’m sure not surprised. There are probably many other nefarious deeds by the NFL that we don’t even know about…yet. The dishonest buffoon who is NFL commissioner, along with his cast of crooks, are slowly ruining the sport of pro football. They and the owners have created a corrupt organization. I’ve been an avid NFL fan for 50+ years but lately am so disgusted I’m losing interest and may just give it up entirely.

  42. margoadams says: Feb 23, 2016 8:01 AM

    NFL has a lot of issues and the fans are taking notice.

  43. Patskrieg says: Feb 23, 2016 8:12 AM

    Man, do I miss the good old days of Deflategate when Goodell and his henchmen told the truth.

  44. GoodellMustGo says: Feb 23, 2016 8:21 AM

    Can you say work stoppage? I wouldn’t blame the union at all.

    Fire Goodell.

  45. pleasefiregoodell says: Feb 23, 2016 8:22 AM

    goodell = number 1 crook
    owners = number 2 crook

  46. GoodellMustGo says: Feb 23, 2016 8:25 AM

    Do you think one of Rogers text messages was from a guy who calls himself the Cap Reducer?
    :)

  47. cafetero1075 says: Feb 23, 2016 8:25 AM

    Greed of the owners just keeps getting worse.

  48. intrafinesse says: Feb 23, 2016 8:32 AM

    What probably happened is the league spotted a gray area and figured “Let’s give this a try”, hoping they wouldn’t be caught, or that an arbitartor would rule in their favor. The best part is there is no downside to teh league from trying this. The worst case scenario is that they are caught and have to hand over the money (that was never theirs) and not have to pay interest.

    Let me ask you this – if you had a chance to steal a lot of money from the NFL, and if you were caught , the only punishment would be a judge saying “You have no right to this money, and must hand it over”, how many would steal the money?
    I would.
    “Sorry, I didn’t realize that money wasn’t mine, here you go. Bye. See you in the future (when I try again).”

    >>The NFLPA understandably characterizes the issue as catching the league trying to pull a fast one. The league understandably says it was an accident. The bottom line is that millions will now flow from the league to the players, driving up the salary cap by at least $1.5 million for each of the league’s 32 teams.

  49. dynastyposeiden says: Feb 23, 2016 8:39 AM

    an accident is a safety running full speed and missing his target by 6 inches and getting fined $50,000 and suspended …. stashing scores of millions of $ when you have the best accountants in the land smacks of a conspiracy or an intentional conversion or fraud.

  50. whatjusthapped says: Feb 23, 2016 8:49 AM

    When the NFL owners consist of people like Robert Kraft (his team has been caught cheating twice) Ziggy Wilf of the Vikings (who has been convicted of a $90 million fraud case) and the Colts and Browns owners convicted of crimes of their own, is it any wonder that the collection of thieves can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar?

  51. jonathankrobinson424 says: Feb 23, 2016 8:51 AM

    …….would be great if they put that money into a pot for the aging ex-NFL players that were totally shafted by the NFL……..would do wonders for their doctor bills and sends the right message the NFL still cares. I know, that’s crazy talk.

  52. It Takes 3 Mannings To Equal One Brady says: Feb 23, 2016 8:55 AM

    Integrity, hahahahahaha. I find it is more probable than not that Goodell was generally aware of this scheme to steal money.

  53. jimmyt says: Feb 23, 2016 8:57 AM

    Pigs get slaughtered.

  54. It Takes 3 Mannings To Equal One Brady says: Feb 23, 2016 8:58 AM

    And the most disgusting stat I have stumbled across; in 10 years as Commish, Roger Goodell has made more money than Tom Brady has in his 15 year career.

  55. bstngrdn says: Feb 23, 2016 9:01 AM

    Finally the real cheaters are exposed. The question now is was Roger and the accounting staff responsible for this on their own or were they operating with the express direction and approval of all the owners, in which case it is conspiracy to defraud and fraud. If this were outside the confines of the NFL all responsible would be cell mates of Bernie Madoff.

  56. tomtravis76 says: Feb 23, 2016 9:03 AM

    This has become such a terrible league to support. They rip off fans continually , hide medical information from their employees and now are caught stealing money from their business partners in the NFLPA. If any business was exposed for these actions nobody would support them. There are so many other entertainment options.

  57. collectordude says: Feb 23, 2016 9:14 AM

    Pocket change to these owners.
    Although they deserve to lose as much as possible for cheating.

  58. DrinkingTheDeliciousTearsOfTheHaters says: Feb 23, 2016 9:16 AM

    This starts at the top of 345 Park Ave. As commissioner Goodell is responsible for the actions in his office.

    “Ignorance is not an excuse”

    -Roger Goodell on the year long suspension of Saints coach Sean Payton in the #BountyGate scandal

    #FireRoger

  59. tylawspick6 says: Feb 23, 2016 9:34 AM

    Embezzlement on top of the Collusion, Sabotage, Fraud and Defamation charges for Roger?

    WOW.

    Fire and arrest him now.

    Someone asked me yesterday why I would suggest to arrest him.

    Any other questions?

  60. jerryyouradisgrace says: Feb 23, 2016 9:49 AM

    NFL = Boardwalk Empire

  61. paulrevereshorse1775 says: Feb 23, 2016 9:51 AM

    another CBA interpretation, huh?

  62. toybkshr says: Feb 23, 2016 9:52 AM

    I bet no one is really surprised by this.

  63. tylawspick6 says: Feb 23, 2016 9:53 AM

    This is the EXACT same excuse the Broncos used in 1995, 1996 and 1997 when they got caught cheating the cap 3 seasons in a row, having a personnel advantage over all other teams due to the intentional and sinister approach.

    Now, Goodell protects Denver’s roid use and possible cap cheating, as he defames Brady, and now is embezzling funds?

    Holy mackerel.

    How can he stay on as commissioner with this resume?

    Rozelle and Tagliabue had no issues such as this and concocted no witch hunts to try to maintain this parity that Goodell is obsessed with via the owners’ greed and jealousies.

  64. RegisHawk says: Feb 23, 2016 9:58 AM

    LOL…if you want the money to go to retired players, go tell D. Smith…that’s not Roger’s fault. So much for your altruistic viewpoint of the NFL PA.

  65. jag1959 says: Feb 23, 2016 9:59 AM

    Goodell is a disingenuous shill whose pants should burst into flame every time he defames the word integrity by letting it pass his lips. That said anyone who thinks he makes the type of decisions that led to this is kidding themselves. He may be ridiculously over paid but this type of Haslamesque chicanery is above even his pay grade.

  66. tylawspick6 says: Feb 23, 2016 10:15 AM

    @WhatJustHapped

    You’re a disingenous fraud yourself if you claim NE has ‘cheated’ twice when Goodell has been caught TWICE misrepresenting information around said, supposed “cheating”.

    Belichick mocking Mangini is not cheating. At worst it’s a Mike Tomlin 100K fine for being unprofessional or something.

    And, of course, Brady did nothing wrong, as we’ve learning in real time, as Goodell clearly is caught stone cold yet again trying to cheat the Patriots.

  67. RegisHawk says: Feb 23, 2016 10:16 AM

    I doubt Goodell had anything to do with how the accountants tried to categorize this money. He’s just the paid target for the idiot masses. Good job, idiot masses.

    Using the max amounts from stories today (120 million and 48.5% split), each team’s Cap figure will go up ~$1.82 million…at most.

  68. tylawspick6 says: Feb 23, 2016 10:28 AM

    Goodell will just misrepresent this, quickly call Mortensen at ESPN, get the narrative out ahead of the real truth, and blame it on the Pats.

    Film at 11.

    LMAO

    This is like a dream for Pats fans…We knew it all along.

    Goodell = Corrupt

    Kraft should have used more terse language last year, after discovering the Pats were being railroaded.

  69. osiris33 (bandwagon since 1976) says: Feb 23, 2016 10:40 AM

    kcl10 says:

    You mean a bunch of rich guys tried to steal every last red cent they could get their grubby hands on? Color me surprised.
    ———————————————————
    Yeah because with a $155 million dollar salary cap PER TEAM, the players are so oppressed.

    Just like the laughable Deflategate ruling, we have another “labor friendly” judge (a Union bag man) ruling for the players. This judge has never ruled for the NFL in any of his “arbitrations.”

    Just a reminder; it’s the owners league, not the players or the fans. Truth is they could lock out all the current employees permanently and in 3 years we’d all be cheering on the new younger guys. We wouldn’t miss Brady or Manning at all.

  70. bubbahotepp says: Feb 23, 2016 10:44 AM

    Guess taxpayers funding their stadiums just isn’t enough.

  71. justintuckrule says: Feb 23, 2016 10:52 AM

    Should have whacked them 10x punies. Simply making them put back what they got caught taking doesn’t deter them from doing it again!

  72. alwaters9 says: Feb 23, 2016 10:59 AM

    Integrity of the league, Roger. Isn’t that what you say? I guess you are like Clinton – it depends on what the meaning of the word “integrity” is.

  73. rodgerrodgerblog says: Feb 23, 2016 11:10 AM

    nickinneohio says:
    Feb 22, 2016 11:55 PM
    And this entity still has non profit status?
    Wow!! Sign me up!!!

    _______

    The NFL no longer has non-profit status, actually.

  74. cinzano08 says: Feb 23, 2016 11:16 AM

    NFL owners are diabolical. Goodall is just their scapegoat.

  75. pft13 says: Feb 23, 2016 11:20 AM

    IF (big if) we take the owners at their collective word that it was a mistake, then there is nothing to see here. League revenues are in the billions and we are talking about a relatively small number.

    Not everything in life is the “99% vs. the 1%.” The 1% are in the 1% b/c they take risks and create jobs.

    Now,if this was deliberate, then the owners deserve ridicule.

  76. TheBrownsareClowns says: Feb 23, 2016 11:26 AM

    An FBI RAID of the League Offices, goodell and every owner in the NFL is way overdue

  77. tylawspick6 says: Feb 23, 2016 11:41 AM

    Arrest, try and convict Goodell.

  78. zigthepatsfan says: Feb 23, 2016 11:43 AM

    I keep picturing Goodell as Dr Evil doing the air quotes…”accounting”…”issue”

  79. jag1959 says: Feb 23, 2016 11:48 AM

    osiris33 (bandwagon since 1976) says:
    Feb 23, 2016 10:40 AM
    This judge has never ruled for the NFL in any of his “arbitrations.”
    _____________

    Prof. Stephen Burbank is a federal court appointed special master of the NFL. As such he resolves certain categories of disputes between the NFL Players Association and the NFL Management Council under a consent decree and per the collective bargaining agreement. He is not a judge and has ruled in the league’s favor more than once, including Goodell’s right to hand down punishments in bountygate.

  80. cinzano08 says: Feb 23, 2016 12:17 PM

    Make judge berman commissioner and bring back integrity to the NFL before it’s too late. Can’t have a commissioner that’s lied in federal court twice, lied about the rice video and then the psi foolishness.

  81. padronebradfather says: Feb 23, 2016 12:39 PM

    Patriots fans are a real trip (this post is going to get thumbed-down I get it). They will thumbs-up all posts saying Goodell must go but when someone calls Kraft a cheater and an enabler, it gets thumbs down. Kraft’s one of the most crooked owners out there: he had to know Hernandez was a criminal before drafting him but he drafted him anyway.

  82. GoodellMustGo says: Feb 23, 2016 12:44 PM

    Let’s all get this chant going at NFL stadiums across the country!

    Fi-re Rog-er! Clap clap clapclapclap
    Fi-re Rog-er! Clap clap clapclapclap
    Fi-re Rog-er! Clap clap clapclapclap
    Fi-re Rog-er! Clap clap clapclapclap

  83. cinzano08 says: Feb 23, 2016 12:46 PM

    I trust gas station sushi more than NFL.

  84. paulrevereshorse1775 says: Feb 23, 2016 12:50 PM

    Just a reminder; it’s the owners league, not the players or the fans

    ———–

    and yet, without players, or without fans, what would ‘their’ league do?

  85. GoodellMustGo says: Feb 23, 2016 12:56 PM

    Truth is they could lock out all the current employees permanently and in 3 years we’d all be cheering on the new younger guys.


    No we wouldn’t.

  86. GoodellMustGo says: Feb 23, 2016 12:59 PM

    and yet, without players, or without fans, what would ‘their’ league do?


    Scab ball was fun to watch back in the day wasn’t it?

    Nah, I didn’t think so either.

  87. RegisHawk says: Feb 23, 2016 2:45 PM

    From the CBS Story…

    Thanks to Burbank’s ruling, the extra $120 million collected by the NFL is expected to be returned to the shared revenue pool “immediately.” Of that total, $50 million is expected to go to player salaries, which means the salary cap should go up by about $1.56 million per team in 2016, which makes perfect sense.

    Back in December, it was reported that the 2016 salary cap would be $153.4 million. That number changed on Feb. 15 though, when NFL Network’s Rand Getlin reported that the number would likely be $155 million, or just over $1.56 million higher.

    So they may already have accounted for the change.

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