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.