Lost in the rush of news items emanating from the league meetings in New Orleans were comments from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones regarding the players’ request for audited financial information in connection with the negotiations on a new labor deal.
Jones believes the offer that the league previously made to provide general information regarding total profitability and the number of teams experiencing a loss in profits provides more than enough data.
“I’m very impressed with the financial information that we offered when we were talking,” Jones said, according to TrueBlueFanClub.com, a website owned by the Cowboys. “That information, with what other is available, can be reconciled and you can easily ascertain where you are financially. So there’s no issue on our part relative to the financial information that was offered. It exceeds anything that we’ve ever done in any negotiation.
“More importantly there’s information they’d see that I haven’t seen about the other clubs, and won’t see. We don’t share that information among the clubs.”
That’s fine, but with the league trying to get the players to take a smaller cut of each dollar based on unsupported assertions of reduced profitability since 2006, the league needs to provide something more than a league-wide summary of profits and the raw number of teams experiencing reduced profits over the past five years.
Though we’re not convinced a decade worth of audited financial statements is needed, we think that true profit numbers — with a shifting into the profit column of payments made to owners and their family members and related companies — is necessary.
To further support its reluctance to offer greater financial transparency, the league points to a recent ESPN.com item regarding the disagreement that has arisen between the NBA and its union based on the opening of the teams’ books. The fact that the NBAPA has spotted potential fluff in the NBA’s numbers has no relevance, in our view, as to whether more information should be given to the NFLPA by the NFL.
And if fair questions regarding the validity of the numbers can be raised by the NFLPA, why shouldn’t fair questions be raised? The mere possibility that the players will point out that additional profits are masquerading as expenses shouldn’t stand in the way of making a legitimate and genuine disclosure of financial information.