Broncos are willing to open their books

During last week’s squabble over financial transparency, a report emerged that some owners were willing to open their books fully and completely to the NFLPA*.

Count the Broncos among the willing.

CEO Joe Ellis said Saturday that the team has no qualms about letting the union see for itself the changes in financial performance since the last CBA was signed in 2006.

“If the league decides they want to open up the books of the Denver Broncos to present them to the union — I don’t know if the league is into identifying individual clubs because they’re private businesses,” Ellis said, per Mike Klis of the Denver Post.  “But with a neutral [auditor] to verify the fact that certain teams haven’t been operating as effectively as they did in the past, we’re a willing and able participant.'”

Ellis also complained about the union’s failure to even eyeball profitability data that the league had offered.

“We offered to show the union league-wide and club profitability data,” Ellis said.  “Not only that it can be verified by a mutually agreed upon third-party auditor.  This is the type of information we don’t share with each other.  In other words, we aren’t allowed to see how other teams are doing specifically in terms of revenues and expenses.  Everything is very formalized in terms of information we get from other clubs.  Now the union didn’t even want to look at it.”

Ellis also joined the league-wide chorus of voices claiming that the NFLPA* didn’t want to negotiate at the bargaining table, but via the courts.

“[Owner] Pat [Bowlen] certainly believes they had no real good intention of negotiating and their goal all along was to go down the path of litigation,” Ellis said. “It’s extremely disappointing and it frustrates Pat.  It makes him angry.  He’s fully aware that it makes our friends, our constituents, our season-ticket holders and everybody who supports us angry and disappointing.  But we can’t stop operating.”  (Other than, you know, locking the players out.)

We still don’t know why any of this would make an owner “angry,” apart from the fact that some really rich people are very accustomed to getting their way, and they get “angry” on those rare occasions when they don’t.  Both sides are attempting to use their full legal rights to get the best deal possible.  The league thinks a better deal happens via collective bargaining.  The players think a better deal happens via litigation.  It would be nice if someone on either side of this fight would simply be honest about that reality, and not complain about it.

Either way, Saturday’s comments from guys like Pete Kendall and Joe Ellis suggest that there’s a middle ground that can be staked out for an acceptable financial disclosure that would then allow the talks to continue, regardless of the format in which they occur.

Hopefully, once everyone has thrown their tantrums and cleaned up after their pity parties, they can get back to work.

44 responses to “Broncos are willing to open their books

  1. Well since the owners took less money for the TV contracts, I’m sure they are making less money than in the past.

  2. Of course, my Broncos are innovative in making progress! They were the first AFL team to make major waves when they beat the NFL’s Detroit Lions in the 60s and they were the first team to have a black quarterback in the modern era in Marlin Briscoe. Now, if they can help break the stalemate on the lockout (ugh I hate that bloody word), sounds great to me! GO BRONCOS!!!

  3. The players union messed up.
    Mark my words the Judge assigned to hear the decertification will not side with the players this time(even if it is Doty)
    Once that happens, the owners are gonna crush the players

  4. Mike, only the players are not working. Oh stupid me, they only work for about five months a year anyway! Would you allow your cleaning service, plumber or babysitter into your home if they were suing you? A sham “decertification” followed by a lockout is the same as a strike.

  5. I’m just tired. I think I have lost more interest in the past two days than I have gained any true perspective, other than the fact that we are having to again, as is with daily life, hear the woe is me story from rich pieces of $h!t.

    Booo f****** hooo. Dry your tears, queers, & get the damn deal done. In the words of Billy Bob Thorton as a card shark/bad @$$ in Tombstone, “This is like playin’ cards with my brothers kids, ya aggrevatin’ sons’ a bit**es”.

  6. OMG! I can’t believe a team that gets rid of its super bowl winning head coach, its pro-bowl QB, and Pro-bowl wide receive actually loses profits!!!

    Bowlen pretty much blew his team up and I guess he figured he would sell MORE season tickets?????

    Next thing you are going to tell me that the carolina panthers lost revenue fielding the worst team in the league last year- its unbelievable!!!!

  7. So humor me, with the books wide open and audited, what then? What method will the NFLPA* use to determine what profits they deem superfluous? If it’s just a matter of making sure their books are balanced, that’s really not their concern. With everyone making plenty of money (not to mention the additional concessions just made by the NFL in an effort to close the perceived gap) I just can’t get past the reality of the employees telling their employer what they have to do so that they’ll continue to work, as if they (the players) are doing them (the owners) some big favor. The owners were wealthy before they bought their teams and they’ll be wealthy without them. The players? With the exception of a notable few, not so much. And if the NFLPA has been saying all along ‘we weren’t asking for this, the owners were’, as if they were just happy as clams with the way things were, why wouldn’t they be thrilled beyond belief with all of latest concessions to add to a situation they have implied many times they weren’t unhappy with in the first place? It doesn’t add up, probably any more than the books do, but that’s not really their concern.

  8. You are either a Union or you are not. You cannot be a Union and use Collective Bargaining until it does not serve your purpose any longer.

    And then use a sham of breaking up the Union to be able to go to Court only to reform the Union again once the Court is done.

    I hope the owners bury the Greedy Players.

  9. He just told you why he is angry:

    “He’s fully aware that it makes our friends, our constituents, our season-ticket holders and everybody who supports us angry and disappointing.”

    Seems pretty easy to understand actually. Hes pissed of he’s made his supporters angry.

  10. “And look there John, there goes the PR press. They’re pushing the players hard.”

    “Your right Jim, the players have been caught playing from behind. They just didn’t seem ready for this.”

    “No sir. This is brutal. The owner’s onslaught is seemingly non-stop. They’re just pummeling them.”

    “Sure are Jim. They’re waging this war in the press.”

    “Uh , John, Are we supposed to say that on air?”

  11. With so much emotion on all 3 sides (league, players and fan) the best place to decide this in the the courts without emotion.

    This is why we have the court system we do in this country.

    It will all be worked out. But when is the questions.

  12. The Broncos are losing money because of STUPID decisions by Bowlen and Ellis:

    1. Shanahan’s extravagant free agent spending disasters.
    2. Paying too many coaches/ex-coaches.
    3. Transforming the Broncos into the LAUGHINGSTOCK OF THE LEAGUE during the MC HOODIE Reign of Shame.
    4. Having a crummy team which led to a fan revolt and loss of ticket, merchandise, etc. sales.

    Bowlen and Ellis should take full responsibility for the debacle in Denver. Turning over the keys of the franchise to McHoodie was the gift that keeps on giving……

    NFLPA needs to realize not all franchises are run with intelligence. Losing teams tend to lose money!

  13. while both parties maybe amenable to getting a deal done, their lawyers won’t allow it to be done that easily… man’s gotta feed his family you know

  14. Thought the NFL made it clear last week they would selectively open the books. Problem is they will pick the teams that support their claim instead of the teams that could be posting record earnings. The only way to substantiate the NFL claims is to open them all up.

    The reason they won’t (in part) has more to do with the way they play local governments to get tax money for their stadiums. If they open their books they are likely to find state legislatures asking for the same when it comes time to figure out an owners fare share.

  15. This is a good sign. Perhaps other teams who don’t have some embarrassing expenses are willing to risk this and get some good PR by showing the fans and the public they want to play the 2011 season.

  16. Well, it’s not “books” so much as some figures scratched in the dirt over by the corral and a few old tally sheets.

  17. Glad to see at least one organization was willing to work this out. Also if they had $50 Billion dollars they still wouldn’t be able to find a way to split it to please everyone. Greed.

  18. Here comes the he said, she said finger pointing. This is one of the biggest problems between the two sides. Type A personalities and Super Egos BOTH playing chicken. It’s really no surprise that the two sides cannot come to an agreement with little fuss. It’s the way of things in this country over the last 10 years.

  19. “[Owner] Pat [Bowlen] certainly believes they had no real good intention of negotiating and their goal all along was to go down the path of litigation,” Ellis said.


    Thats right Pat. They even went out and got a sweetheart deal with the networks to keep them afloat financially to put the squeeze on you.

    Oh wait—that was YOU and your fellow owners. Never mind……..

  20. “We still don’t know why any of this would make an owner “angry,” apart from the fact that some really rich people are very accustomed to getting their way, and they get “angry” on those rare occasions when they don’t.”

    Or because the entire negotiations ploy by the union was a complete waste of everyone’s time and ended in the way the League saw happening over a year ago? I’ve still heard jack of what the union actually offered.

  21. We can still be diehard fans when we hate our team’s owner. Let’s see what happens when we’ve learned to hate the players too.

  22. I’d be curious to know how many teams are willing to open up, and which ones they are. Vice versa, which ones aren’t.

  23. It would seem that as long as some owners are resistant to opening their books ( concerned about leaks of bloated salary and expense information), the middle ground will be impossible to reach. There is little to no trust between the two sides right now, so there is no reason for owners to trust that the NFLPTA ( player’s trade association) will not to leak such data if it causes enough embarrassment to convince the public that NFL teams are recklessly managed. The NFLPTA definitely wants details behind expenses so they can judge whether ‘income’ is being categorized as ‘ expense’ – owners paying themselves and their families exhorbitant salaries and benefits ( what about that ‘office’ in Vail, or that $234,000 tab for an owners meeting?) Owners definitely don’t want either the players or the public to be aware of the pot of gold ownership is.

  24. It also seems to me that there is a double standard in expectations. The owners expect the players to act like responsible employees without revealing whether the owners are fiscally responsible owners. It stands to reason that the publicly traded and audited Packers’ financial records cannot conceal bloated salaries and expenses as the other 31 privately owned franchises can. Many of those 31 owners probably don’t want the IRS snooping into their records for the past 10 years, either.

  25. For me, a big part of it is the Union’s refusal to look at the financial information that they were offered. I can understand scrutinizing the data and finding that it didn’t give enough information, but refusing to even look at what was offered pretty much proves that they had no intention of taking any sort of cut, regardless of the circumstances.

  26. Irony at its best – or – “Come on, Man!”
    – Manning and Brady being the face of “I can’t feed my family on these terms!”.
    How many millions have they made? I have lost respect. Send in a league-minimum veteran!
    – Pat Bowlen offering up his books.
    He admitted to cheating the salary cap during the Denver Broncos’ two Super Bowl years and was fined multiple draft picks and millions of dollars. Is he the face of the owners, really?

  27. “We still don’t know why any of this would make an owner “angry,” apart from the fact that some really rich people are very accustomed to getting their way, and they get “angry” on those rare occasions when they don’t. Both sides are attempting to use their full legal rights to get the best deal possible. The league thinks a better deal happens via collective bargaining. The players think a better deal happens via litigation. It would be nice if someone on either side of this fight would simply be honest about that reality, and not complain about it.”


    Maybe because one side agreed to mediation and stonewalled for two weeks?

    I am not taking sides, but I can understand the anger if you perceive the other side acted in bad faith.

  28. I think it is pretty clear why owners won’t disclose financial information. Like many large corporations, these folks have almost certainly dodged taxes though various shelters, off-shore accounts etc. That knowledge would be of incredible potential leverage to the Players.

  29. Quote..”CEO Joe Ellis said Saturday that the team has no qualms about letting the union see for itself the changes in financial performance since the last CBA was signed in 2006″

    I have some news for Joe Ellis and the owners…nearly everyone in the USA has been affected by this nation’s economy from 2005 to present.

    I welcome the NFL owners to the “reality” many working Americans have had to face…declining income, due to the United States worst recession in America’s history.

    Since 2005, working Americans have seen investments in the stock market “crash”..equity in their homes “crash”..and now the rich who have bought and paid for certain politicians, who take away wages, benefits and destroy union bargaining power, just because they can.

    As bad as things are for most Americans, the NFL owners have survived and the league has turned a profit, during these horrific and historical economic times, since 2005.

    Today, the nation’s economy is beginning to recover and once again create jobs, though slowly. It seems to me that the owners are attempting to take full advantage of the past economic crisis, trying to make the union/players give them concessions.

    The NFL owners are not fighting over making a profit or not…they are fighting over not making enough profit to satisfy their thirst.

  30. I love that somehow the owners have the fans brainwashed into “greedy players” mode again. Anyone who thinks guys like Jerry Jones were losing money under the previous agreement are nuts.

  31. I suspect the players will be screaming like stuck pigs before this is all over. It’s ill advised boys vs. men.

  32. The “union” already turned down the owners offer. THEY (players) want MORE! No matter what is offered they will never be satisfied. More, more , more!! They will never be satisfied.

  33. sufferingbirdsfan says:
    Mar 13, 2011 9:32 AM
    I love that somehow the owners have the fans brainwashed into “greedy players” mode again. Anyone who thinks guys like Jerry Jones were losing money under the previous agreement are nuts.

    Your ignorance of actual, real NFL numbers and the profitability trends of the NFL shows. The NFL made a stupid deal with the players. Player salaries are growing faster than gross profits. Teams are becoming less and less profitable every year.

    The Packers, on $250 million in revenue last year made just $10 million. That’s a pathetic return on the worth of the franchise (nearly a billion) and crappy net profit margin for any business (4%).

    And this trend applies to every club, not just the Packers who are in the middle. And, unlike many other franchises, aren’t burned with stadium costs, interest on purchase loans, or having to pay an owner a salary…

    So, while nobody is arguing the NFL isn’t still profitable. At least for many clubs. The CBA set in motion a long-term trend that will, eventually, destroy competitive balance.

    And when competitive balance is destroyed, the league will start to wither away. Like baseball and basketball, both of which have dropped significantly because, lets face it, those are both leagues where there are a few ‘haves’ and a lot of ‘have-nots’ playing the role of ‘cannon-fodder.’

  34. The way support of one side or the other breaks down on this issue is a fascinating socio-economic study.

    The fact is both sides are to blame. Anyone doing a serious analysis of the actual facts should naturally come to this conclusion.

    So why do people so vocally support one side or the other? Let’s take a look at the two parties to this dispute.

    On one side, you have the owners. These are the kinds of rich people you grew up with. Generally older, courtly, a little gray around the temples, white, stately and well spoken. Like the fat guy with the monocle and the big hat in Monopoly. Awfully greedy, but hey, didn’t Gordon Gecko tell us all that greed is good?

    You understand that he is well educated and has worked hard for his esteemed place in our society. You feel he is a little better than you. You don’t begrudge him his billions, he’s earned it.

    On the other side is the athlete. Young, brash, not necessarily well educated. He takes all of the things you’ll never have- cars, houses, women- and rubs them in your face. It bothers you that he is so clearly inferior to you yet has all of these things you will never have. While you’ll never admit it, he scares you a little. Edgy, a little menacing, and never shows any appreciation for the millions you feel YOU gave him.

    Of course, both of these descriptions are rash generalizations. Not all owners earned their billions themselves and not all players are uneducated menaces.

    But when you read comments on all of these posts, you can see these concepts in play. People who support the owners angrily lash out at the players for being spoiled little boys making millions playing a game, and people who support the players lash out resentfully at the over-privileged owners who charge too much rent for the houses they build on Atlantic Avenue (monopoly reference if you don’t know the game).

    The truth, as it is in virtually every dispute in human history, lies somewhere in the middle. But acknowledging that isn’t nearly as fun as a good old-fashioned PFT flame war, now is it?

  35. As moseszd astutely pointed out the Packers have an open book and they are a middle team as far as profits. The only defense I see coming from the pro-union posters is the owners not opening their books. I’d like to see a more intelligent discussion and what you feel is the magic cutoff line for ownership profit that gives the union a justifiable grievance. While I am not a business owner I do side with them in the fact that the the players are being paid an exhorborant salary. What is enough? Each time the union or the players get into the litigation the only people who lose are the fans. The costs going to games make it cost prohibitive for many families. How many kids do you see at games as compared to when you were a kid? It it sad that it is turning into mainly adults. The ownership employs the players. Because the NFL made the players why do the endorsement deals the players make not made part of the average salary of the players. To me the players are greedy. They are forunate enough to be be paid millions. Do the oil companies pay millions to their employees when they report profits of 25 billion? Thats the owners right. If the players are unhappy find a different job. We all know they wouldn’t. Matter of fact I bet they would all play for 500k a year if that what it came to, thus making it affordable for everyone to attend a game.

  36. One thing I am on the players side with is making money available for past players for any health matters that have arisen. Unfortunately I believe the players just threw that in as a bargaining chip and is not high on their agenda.

  37. The whole “the league open up all the books” thing by the NFLPA was a strawman tactic meant to play one team off against the other — open the books of individual teams, then use the disparities in profitability to drive a wedge.

  38. Where was he with this offer while everybody was still at the table? Appreciate the pressure being applied now for other owners to follow suit, but it would’ve been nice to see sooner also.

    All that’s needed is for 3-4 more to step up and say the same thing and the heat will really be on for other owners to step forward as well. Especially if the initial group contains say Kraft or Rooney.

  39. I side with the players on this mainly because they are not asking for anything more, the owners are the ones begging for more money. The players are simply trying to get a reason why an agreement that has worked fine since 1993 needs to be reworked so the owners can have more money when the NFL makes a great deal more money then they were making when the original deal was put into place. Keep in mind these players actually work 9 months of the year and you are considered “past your prime” before you hit 30 as is. The salaries that these guys are making for some of them is their lifetime salary and the well will eventually run dry. Especially when the health problems kick in.

    The main problem I’m seeing is the names have changed since 1993. A lot of the “owners” weren’t owners when the original deal was made (a 30-2 vote by the way) and there are a lot of “owners” who shouldn’t have the title next to their name and want to rock the boat because of their lack of ability to run a successful franchise (Right Lions, Bengals and NFC West fans?). How many teams are run by the idiot family members of the guys who actually bought the team? The day I see guys like Jerry Jones, Art Rooney, Robert Kraft and Jim Irsay (successful owners who are actually the ones putting the pressure on the crappy ones by rewarding their players for making them rich)come out and say the current CBA is a problem, then I might rethink my stance but as long as it’s people like Bud “my team will move every time I have a temper tantrum” Adams who’s Titans will be rebuilding as opposed to being a regular playoff team when the last CBA extention was signed. It just sounds like greed.

    This whole thing smells very similar to the financial crisis. Banks use shady tactics and piss away money then ask for more when it comes back to bite them.

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