NFLPA keeps trying to get a look at the NFL’s books

In the classic film My Cousin Vinny, the lead character is surprised to learn that, in order to get a look at the prosecution’s files in a murder case that threatens to barbecue two young men, all Vinny needed to do was ask.

For the NFLPA, it’s not quite that easy.

The union has been asking and asking and asking (and asking) for a look at the financial records of the 31 NFL teams not already required by law to disclose such information.  (The Packers make that information available, because they are a publicly-owned company.)

And NFLPA president Kevin Mawae told Sirius NFL Radio on Thursday that the union’s recent visit to Congress included an effort to persuade federal lawmakers to force the NFL to make its financial information available, given the antitrust exemptions that the NFL enjoys.

“Our point is: if you’re going to give them the exemption like you do others who have to show their finances, then help us out by having the NFL show us their finances so that we can make better decisions regarding our Collective Bargaining Agreement,” Mawae told Adam Schein and Solomon Wilcots of The Sirius Blitz.  ” And we just wanted to lobby them and let them know that we want to get a job done.  We’re not calling for a strike or anything but it looks like we’re headed for a lockout because, right as it stands, the owners, they opted out and they have yet to give us any substantial reasons why or even headway into the CBA negotiations.”

In other words, the current negotiations between the NFL and the union look a lot like the scene where the Simpson kids repeatedly say “please, Dad” to Homer, who continuously says “no” in response.

And going to Congress is the equivalent of Bart and Lisa asking Marge instead . . . or doing something zany like putting a “roofie” in Homer’s 20th Saturday morning beer.

Basically, these labor talks are going to go nowhere if the union won’t quit asking for something they’re never going to get.  Getting Congress involved isn’t the answer, either.  Does NFLPA Executive Director De Smith think that the legislators will drop everything they’re otherwise doing and pass emergency legislation requiring the NFL to open its books to the union?

We’re not saying that such a tweak to the antitrust laws will never come, but we can’t imagine it happening in time to help forge a deal before the start of the 2010 league year.

Meanwhile, the union is continuing to pander to the average folks who’ll lose paychecks if NFL games aren’t played in 2011.

“The biggest message we wanted to get across to members of Congress was that, here we are and we want to dispel the myth that we’re a bunch of millionaires fighting with a bunch of billionaires, because the reality of it is is that there’s a lot more people that are going to be hurt by the possibility of a lockout than just the players,” Mawae said.  “There are concession workers, the people who work in the stadiums, and then from the local government standpoint, you’ve got to think about the stadiums.”

That said, does anyone really think that these millionaire players truly care about the concession workers?  The reality is that the millionaire players know that the general public (and Congress) won’t get worked up about two fat guys fighting over a piece of pizza.  So the union needs to try to get the average person worked up about the fact that the inability of said two fat guys to find a way to share the slice of pie is the fault of the other fat guy.

Enter the concessions workers, who are the skinny kids in the corner watching the Belushi brothers duke it out.

So we hope that the average person is smart enough to see through that one.

Regardless, we think that both sides need to find a way to be fair, and that the long-term interests of the sport aren’t served by the tactics that De Smith, a career trial lawyer, is trying to apply beyond the walls of a courtroom.

24 responses to “NFLPA keeps trying to get a look at the NFL’s books

  1. Vinny Gambini: Sheriff Farley, uh… what’d you find out?
    Sheriff Dean Farley: On a hunch, I took it upon myself to check out if there was any information on a ’63 Pontiac Tempest stolen or abandoned recently. This computer readout confirms that two boys, who fit the defendants’ description, were arrested two days ago by Sheriff Tillman in Jasper County, Georgia, for driving a stolen metallic mint green 1963 Pontiac Tempest, with a white convertible top, Michelin Model XGV tires, size 75-R-14.
    Vinny Gambini: Is that it?
    Sheriff Dean Farley: No. A .357 Magnum revolver was found in their possession.
    Vinny Gambini: Sheriff Farley, just to refresh the court’s memory, what caliber bullet was used to murder Jimmy Willis?
    Sheriff Dean Farley: .357 Magnum.
    Vinny Gambini: The defense rests.

  2. “we want to dispel the myth that we’re a bunch of millionaires fighting with a bunch of billionaires, because the reality of it is is that there’s a lot more people that are going to be hurt by the possibility of a lockout than just the players,” Mawae said. “There are concession workers, the people who work in the stadiums, and then from the local government standpoint, you’ve got to think about the stadiums.”
    You’d have to be dumber than a post to believe that they care about that crap. You’re doing this for the stadium workers? Really? Then I imagine you’ll cut them in on your work stoppage “rainy day” fund, right? I imagine you’ll cut them into the union and negotiate on their behalf, right?
    I can’t believe anybody’d be dumb enough to fall for that. Give me a break. No, it really is millionaires vs. billionaires, and to hell with them both.

  3. The owners need to be pretty wary of any demands or requests like this. When you have guys like Mike Vrabel running around complaining about Robert Kraft’s real estate deals around the stadium, then it’s clear that the players really believe that they are due more than 55% of gross football revenues. That Vrabel wound up getting traded after he made those comments is, of course, merely a coincidence.

  4. Probably the worst thing most of the owners ever thought Al Davis did was force them to open the books during one of his lawsuits against the league. As I remember, one of them even called him a “creep”.
    I know very well they aren’t going to do it now. What I’ve never understood is why they are so reluctant. I guess I’m just dense but I’d love to see it spelled out.

  5. Nice piece, Florio. You could add to your last analagy, “Do either of the fat kids really give a sh*t about whether the skinny kid in the corner gets any pizza? No, but it makes them seem more sympatheic if they pretend to.” I’m glad someone else is trying to keep football going (UFL) in case we have nothing to watch next fall.

  6. “Does NFLPA Executive Director De Smith think that the legislators will drop everything they’re otherwise doing and pass emergency legislation requiring the NFL to open its books to the union?”
    Considering that Congress is currently considering socialized medicine, this is one time I won’t mind them dropping everything to focus on sports.

  7. I’d hate to see a lockout but if I was an owner I’d tell the Union and the Players to p!ss off. Name any other employer that has to open their books to their employees ? The Players are not partners, if things head south the players do not lose a thing, they still get paid regardless. The Owners are taking all the risks and providing these guys jobs. It’s as simple as this, you play for what we are offering or go find a job somewhere else.
    Ask GM what the Union did for them ? The owners shouldn’t have to show them sh!t other than the door if they don’t like it.

  8. Tom Shannon says:
    July 24, 2009 9:52 AM
    What I’ve never understood is why they are so reluctant. I guess I’m just dense but I’d love to see it spelled out.
    ====================================
    You don’t tip off your hand when you play poker, do you? If do, you’re welcome at my table any day you like!
    It’s a power grab by the union to snag an even bigger piece of the pie. I believe I heard here (Read: I could be wrong) that the owners pay out something like $.59 on the dollar to the players already. This means the remaining $.41 has to go towards operating costs and anything left gets banked for profit. Why the union feels they need even more than this is beyond me.

  9. @Fan_Of_Four-
    Exactly. There’s no reason the teams should have to open their books. So what if they’re able to churn a profit. That shouldn’t automatically make the players entitled to a bigger piece of the pie, especially since the overall product hasn’t changed.
    Players have plenty of avenues for making money outside of their player salary. Hell, merch sales and endorsements alone can put some of these guys way over the top.
    This has nothing to do with the players or the workers at the stadiums. It has everything to do with the union themselves seeking a bigger pay day.

  10. “The Owners are taking all the risks and providing these guys jobs. It’s as simple as this, you play for what we are offering or go find a job somewhere else.”
    In an industry with replaceable labor, that’s exactly what they would do. However in this case, the labor is not replaceable, or at the very least the replacement labor produces an inferior product, ruining the business. Because of the monopoly of the NFL, I think the owners are screwed. In good times, yeah, they make tons of $$ because of said monopoly, but in the bad, they’re beholden to the labor.
    While I’m kinda split down the middle on the issue of union labor, this is an instance where I totally favor the player’s union. The players ARE the NFL, no one pays $$ on Sunday to watch Bob Kraft, Jeff Lurie, or Dan Rooney sit around and discuss business. The players should get every single penny they can.

  11. I do think the players make a lot of money, but….The contract says .59 cent on the dollar, how does anyone really know without opening the books? This is same a commission at anyones work place, you go to work for a .59 cent commission on every dollar you make, at the end of the work week you dont get as nearly as much as you thought you would, wouldnt your boss have to show you the sales? YES!

  12. Fan of Four: what other industry allows the employees to make 57% of the revenue? secondly, theyre asking to see the books because the billionaire owners are saying they arent making money under the current model. the players point remains ‘ok, show us that you arent making money and well be happy to adjust the percentage of revenues.’ I think its a valid point, and the billionaire owners hesitancy to release their numbers sure seems like an indication that perhaps theyre not quite as bad off as they would like the players to believe.

  13. I also dont think many ppl on here actually know about union laws… you cant just make your union employees take a paycut, you must prove that you are having $$$ issues. I’m not in favor of unions, just saying.

  14. the players are already getting paid enough. their salaries continue to go up every year with these BS “inflationary adjustments” that the rest of the world does NOT get. The fact that their union is clamoring to see financial details of the teams is ridiculous.
    this would be like employees of a small mom & pop store demanding that the mom & pop share more of the revenue with them.
    that’s not how it works. the NFLPA is being retarded.

  15. Egg Vs Chicken
    The Players are the NFL…
    Without the Owners the Players get real jobs.
    Last time I checked the players were making pretty good money. Try this at home, walk into your bosses office and tell him you want to see the books because you don’t think you’re getting your fair share based on the companies bottom line. Report back to us how long it took you to get canned.
    College Football has a huge following and they ain’t playing for squat so tell me again that these guys can’t be replaced.

  16. As soon as I saw the headline, I anticipated the My Cousin Vinny reference… you didn’t disappoint Florio.

  17. Look, the goal of a union is to get a fair deal for their players, not the most money they can possibly get.
    That kind of idea is bad for our country, and for evidence just look at the city of Detroit and all the factories that have moved away since Unions took over there. It’s pretty bad.
    The players make salaries that are in the top 1% of the salaries in the United States. I have no idea why they need to see the books since they alreay make a ton of money. What, do the players need to make the top $.5 percent in the country?
    The real losers in this are the fans. We don’t have a union to protect us from paying for tickets and memoribilia that go to those exorbitant salaries, and also the owners.
    And at least the owners aren’t running off to Congress and whining about it. Sounds like the players might be worried they’ll lose a dollar or two.

  18. If the players don’t like the money they’re making, then go find something else to do. Hell, Dan Snyder didn’t even finish college and he made a ton of money, so the players have something in common with him as far as not getting the degree.
    The difference is, he just worked hard to get his money. Snyder didn’t have a union to complain to congress that he wasn’t making enough.
    These greedy show off players are ruining this game.

  19. there is a book. It’s called “The Creature from Jekyll Island”.
    Get it. Read it. Then lets see what you all think about financial bullshitting by the owners.
    Que Bono?

  20. If I was the Union I would call the Owners bluff, I know that the owners are rich, but I dont think owners are rich enough to have empty billion dollar stadiums.

  21. Everyone wants to compare the NFL to their regular jobs when it’s not even close to the same situation. You can look at both sides and say they’re greedy, but Labor Unions do this all of the time and the same scuttlebutt happens. Just because the players make a lot of money doesn’t mean that they should be happy taking less because they aren’t working in factories.
    Do you think if Florio was a big time lawyer, he would lower his fees even if he was still pulling in clients because he’s already making tons more than a welder? These guys make a lot of money because they worked at that. That whole “if they weren’t in the NFL they’d be bagging groceries so they should be happy” is ridiculous because that’s what they worked to become. You’re going to take away their skillset at one thing and not substitute it for something else that they might have done if they were not good at football, then say they’re not skilled at anything else when the same could be said about a lot of people (even forgetting that these guys actually did go to college and a good number of them have degrees)?

  22. Both of the big fat guys need to wake up because the skinny guys can’t afford a ticket to see the teams play as it is! Why do they think they are selling concessions any way? The other people can’t afford to buy tickets at $50. or $100. a pop, so why would either won of the fat guys want their wages/ticket cuts to go up? The rest of the people in this country are getting their wages cut, doesn’t that tell any thing about the state of our economic times in this country?
    WAKE UP PLAYERS AND OWNERS!!!! You have been walking on the backs of the little guys as long as corporate America has. Stop just thinking about how much you can get for yourselves!!! Their are others in this country that have a lot less in a life time than what you think you should get in a year.
    So wake up fat guys that are starting to hurt my back !!!!!I’m getting tired of all the tears dripping on my back also!!!!

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