Billion-dollar NFLN nickels-and-dimes traveling reporters

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At a time when the National Football League has grown to such prosperity that its in-house network is estimated to be worth five billion dollars, NFL Network is making sure that the folks who spend plenty of time away from home have even more crap to worry about when it’s time to sort out the paperwork.

The NFL has informed certain employees that, as of June 3, a “very drastic change” has been be implemented for the reimbursement of travel expenses.  A source with knowledge of the situation has forwarded a portion of the memo to PFT.

The league will now require a receipt for every meal for which reimbursement is sought, with a hard limit (tip and taxes included) of $15 for breakfast, $20 for lunch, and $40 for dinner.  Employees also are entitled to reimbursement of up to $5 per day in other gratuities.

Apparently, none of NFLN’s employees ever travel to Manhattan.

The memo suggests that there “might” be a revision, which would be a good thing.  While we don’t advocate abuse of the ability to obtain reimbursement for expenses, the requirement of keeping a receipt for every meal instead of using a flat per diem creates administrative headaches that otherwise distract reporters from their work.  Besides, when reporters are on the road for most of football season, there’s no good time to sort through weeks of receipts.

It’s our understanding that the rules apply to the network’s traveling band of reporters, at a minimum.  It quite possibly applies to other traveling employees.

The memo also advises that expense reports submitted more than 60 days after the fact will require “written business justification for the lateness” and “approval from the V.P. of administration.”  Expense reports submitted more than four months late will not be honored.

Yes, we know, folks should be glad they have jobs in TV covering the NFL.  But when a company is enjoying unprecedented, 10-figure financial success, the people who are on the road grinding away shouldn’t be nickel-and-dimed, or made to feel that they can’t be trusted.

69 responses to “Billion-dollar NFLN nickels-and-dimes traveling reporters

  1. So they have to comply with rules that many workers do, and at rates that may be 50-100% what most workers get? Cry me a freakin’ river.

  2. It all evens out.

    Sure you maybe can’t afford an above average meal in Manhattan….

    But in Kansas City, $40 gets you a 16 oz ribeye, 3 prostitutes and a line of coke.

    So eat at McDonald’s when you’re in Manhattan…..

    And, umm…to be honest, you should probably do that in KC too and pocket the savings.

  3. I’d be lucky to spend 15 dollars a day on food, let alone breakfast. I have zero sympathy for the reporters. ” Oh it’s so terrible, I have to travel the country, talk with famous people all day, and put receipts in my pocket while I spend ridiculous amounts of money for food.”

  4. It’s been pretty standard in my career to not get a stack of blank checks when it comes to my company comping expenses.

    I think most people in the workforce need to be accountable.

  5. >>The league will now require a receipt for every meal for which reimbursement is sought

    It’s because people look at the idea of their business they work for as something that can be abused simply for the sake of being a business. There somewhere in some way, had to be a reason for this. Suddenly conjuring this up out of the blue is ridiculous. People would have been doing things that brought this on. You can’t abuse for the sake of abuse, claiming who you’re abusing is justified because they’re big so you’re therefore entitled to abuse.

    It’s highly doubtful that someone or some people all by themself had a 30, not 20, dollar lunch and this therefore was brought on as result of an evil rich panic.

    Things like this, especially for an entity that has been around for 10 years, don’t simply just happen. People did things causing this reaction.

    Here’s a topic for discussion; let’s see publicly every single expenditure from those travelling for the network in the last, say, 5 years as the network really grew. Let’s see what they were doing in strange towns for days for only a 2 min spot a few times a day. What were they doing the rest of the time when they weren’t clinging to a team facilty as a hanger on 8 – 4? Doubtful they were at the library and eating fast food.

    But if you don’t look at the world and reality in a calm and rational and honest way with an honest and open mind, you probably write a blog for a living.

  6. “The league will now require a receipt for every meal for which reimbursement is sought, with a hard limit (tip and taxes included) of $15 for breakfast, $20 for lunch, and $40 for dinner. Employees also are entitled to reimbursement of up to $5 per day in other gratuities. Apparently, none of NFLN’s employees ever travel to Manhattan.”

    If they do have to travel to Manhattan, I know a great hot dog cart on 6th Avenue where the guys will almost have enough of an allowance to get lunch and dinner. Oh, wait a minute … the cart doesn’t give out receipts.

  7. Oh wow. Only $75 worth of free food per day. And they have to.. *gasp* get a receipt? I can’t believe in 2013 we tolerate this level of slavery

  8. Well said.

    What didn’t you get about the part where he said a BILLION DOLLAR/10 figure financial success?? If the players are benefiting from the NFL’s success, why shouldn’t ALL of their employees? That’s some BS right there.

  9. Hey , you can get breakfast , lunch and dinner for those prices in Manhattan – just eat at McDonald’s.

  10. I was getting $60 per diem in 1990 when I travelled.
    Doing construction.
    23 years ago.

  11. These are the exact same requirements at my job. You must save all your receipts if you want to be reimbursed, and you have a $75 limit per day for food… What is so horrible about that? I thought I actually had it pretty good! Why is this a story?

  12. as a small business owner, I have to keep every reciept and report every invoice… every time a fill up gas,repair a tool ect…. by the end of the year I have 1000’s of paper work to file through.These people can’t hold on to a dinner receipt … cry me a river is right … I’m not gonna feel sorry for them, because putting a receipt. in your wallet or pocketbook is just to much of an inconvenience.

  13. The greed of the NFL will be its downfall. They refuse to take care of long retired players who sacrificed their bodies for the love of the game. They make it nearly impossible for a team to relocate to Los Angeles because whoever goes there must do so by losing money while the NFL demands the Lion share. All of these money hungry decisions are slowly but surely alienating the loyal fans.

  14. By this logic the guy who sweeps the floor of the hospital should get a big pay raise. Cuz ya know, it’s a hospital! I mean look at all the money that hospital makes. And those doctors!

  15. you think these guys are eating out at Peter Luger or something. I just urban spooned Manhattan and there are over 6400 places with $ or $$. I think, even in NYC, they can find something good to eat for $75/day that isn’t McDonalds. I know i did when i was there for a week. ate good, too.

    just because you’re company is worth billions doesn’t mean you ignore basic business principals of accountability. it’s not like they are making them pay for airfare and the hotel. Maybe you think they should all get 40% raises, a 10K holiday bonus and a box of omaha steaks. make it rain up in there…

  16. In this country, there are corporations that make billions in profit each year, who are laying off hundreds of employees.

    But dont worry, ill take a minute and cry because of a lousy 75$ a day for food, and amazingly having to get receipts too…. how dare they.

  17. Wow! A lot of unwaranted hostility from commenters above. Most people have been made to feel “less than” by their employers at one time. Nothing wrong with expressing a little empathy for fellow human beings.

  18. Welcome to the big leagues. You get about $3 a day more than my co. pays. And they aren’t OK with turning your paperwork in 60 days late, either.

  19. Why does nfl have to pay for their meals anyway if I pay u a yearly salary that’s it I’m not refunding u money for u to eat If I wanna supply u with food then that’s my choice. I fly u for free pay for ur car rental isn’t that good enough.

  20. Anyone who has the number of employees that get meals reimbursed that the NFLN has would understand their position. If you don’t then you don’t employ enough people who enjoy such privileges to understand how much the system gets abused when employees are not held accountable. The paperwork is easy. Been doing it for years at my job, and I only get 45 days before they won’t reimburse me.

  21. nickel-and-diming their employees is minor; pretty-much every business in the world does that.

    a bigger story would be the ridiculous ways that NFL teams get stadiums built with public $$. now THAT is something worthy of discussion.

  22. First, if this is a union job they will have to negotiate it in their contract. Second, if their per diem was a perk that they are now making less desirable, it’s bad practice to all of a sudden change the amount of per diem. I don’t care how much the per diem is, but I do agree with having to submit receipts. That’s just common knowledge.

    For those of you complaining about how you personally don’t have these perks, then go apply for NFLN as a reporter! If you qualify for the position and don’t pursue it then you have no room to complain. If you don’t qualify then you also have no room to complain, go get an education or something.

    The fact is, these guys EARN these perks. They work hard at their job and sacrifice a lot to get where they are at. If any of you have ever worked in journalism you would understand the long hours committed to your craft. Yes, I get it, it’s not working at an assembly line putting widgets together 12 hours overnight. But, I bet these reporters could work that job and you could not work theirs.

  23. Gee, you don’t mean to suggest that the previously-lax rules could have possibly allowed reporters to take advantage of the system, do you? Why, I’m shocked. SHOCKED! I guess if the NFL makes billions, reporters should be able to do whatever they darn well please at the league’s expense! As a traveling salesman for a Fortune 500 company, I never have to adhere to strict reimursement guidelines. Nope, it’s open tab at the bar every night for all comers, and a banquet fit for kings. All on the company dime, of course; and no questions asked, ever.

  24. That’s exactly why so many of us choose to do our reporting from home, in our favorite recliner, on our laptop, with cold beer, in the PFT comments section. If we were dumb we would live out of a suitcase, put up with the ridiculous demands of a pencil neck boss, collect receipts, and not drink beer while reporting. Who needs that?

  25. I wonder if the NFL has considered how much extra it will cost their accountants to reconcile the paper receipts and check the math on all those expense reports? And you can bet those road warriors will have a ton of them…..

  26. I used to work in Manhattan. Dined every night at Gray’s Papaya. 2 hot dogs and a drink for less than $5.

    Also worked for a while as a training manager of a national bookstore. We got a $10 dollar breakfast, $15 dollar lunch and $20 dollar dinner every day and I managed just fine.

    Reporters who already make decent salaries can probably afford the overage on any over eating they are doing while on assignment.

  27. It must’ve been abused to the point, management needed to make a point.

    They only have 16 reporters some of which double has show host.

    Then there’s a bunch of analyst who do travel on occasion.

    Somethings tells me the likes of Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin aren’t going to be eating via craft services.

    In any case, every company does it. Google which for years provided 3 meals to employees, snacks and what not and even their friends and family were allowed in.

    Those privileges have been cut down. Its now only 2 meals and guest meals extremely restricted. Its due to people abusing it. Stocking up on food, bring in their friends, taking food when the leave.

    Google annual profit is roughly 10 billion dollars.

  28. Well to be completely fair, 15 dollars for a breakfast 20 for a lunch and 40 for a dinner is pretty generous considering the actual working man/woman spends less on that with their own money. Sounds like 1st world problems to me.

  29. You dont get to or stay a billion dollar company by paying for your employees Kobe beef dinners.

    These traveling expenses aren’t any different then most company standards and the fact that anything at all is being said points more to just how spoiled these employees are rather then just how cheap the NFLN is.

  30. I work for a $10 billion company and I follow rules stricter than that when it comes to travel costs…and I’m not complaining. Nothing wrong with reasonable limits.

  31. Far be it for me to defend the NFL, but I use to travel a great deal and the company changed their paperwork requirements because of “questions” and urging by IRS. The NFL is a big dog and I’m sure IRS is keeping an eye on them.

  32. What if I told you I work for one of the biggest sales companies in the US worth over triple what the NFLN is and have the same guidelines as a higher-up salesman when I travel?

    It’s a simple business practice, and honestly it’s more than enough as long as you don’t get excessive.

  33. Just do what the rest of us do. Grab a bagel for breakfast, a sub for lunch, then roll the $20 you just saved into a nice dinner…oh yeah, and be thankful.

  34. NFLN reporters should come work at my multi-billion dollar, global corporation for a few months. The cost control measures we routinely have to deal with around simple purchase and travel requests (and the dreaded expense reports if you do manage to get a travel request approved instead of rejected as “non-essential”) might make them feel better.

    Only we don’t usually go around leaking internal memos on the subject to the WSJ or something.

  35. This is quite similar to my companies policies except we don’t need to provide a receipt for anything under $25 (handy when lunch is fast food on the run). It’s not draconian but I can sympathize with the nuisance factor of keeping receipts for literally everything. It’s not a big deal if you go on a trip for a week, but it gets to be a real pain in the ass if you’re on a trip every week. You get home and have 2 days to spend with the family, do laundry, mow the lawn, swap out dry cleaning, repack and get back to the airport. Screwing around with receipts for minor expenses is a pain. Like others said though, this is surely the result of abuse.

  36. Lotta armchair financial experts commenting who don’t know the difference between per diam and allowance. I work and basically live on the road. Meal allowances don’t let you keep the difference. You spend it or it’s gone. And when you spend your life on the road, you can’t eat McDonalds garbage all the time. Please keep your uneducated opinions to yourselves next time.

  37. It can’t be for a ‘cost-saving’ reason. The NFLN will have to hire a huge admin staff to process, adjudicate, & store all of these receipts. I think its idiotic. The Military abandoned that idea decades ago as did the Federal Govt. They simply couldn’t sustain the administrative cost.

    Not one of the brighter moves I’ve seen.

  38. I knew nobody would understand. I wish everyone would stop equating what they do for their crappy job to either what athletes do or to other people that are “in the biz.” Apples and Oranges. Hate to break it to you Mr Spaghetti stain on your t-shirt fan, but you are probably more fungible at your job than they are and your company likely isn’t a billion dollar conglomerate too. Their level of responsibility is different, as well as a skill set that commands a higher market value. There are so SOOO many things that are different, yet you want to compare your experiences as a $12/hr factory worker to an industry that is much more difficult to get in to. If you haven’t made it in life, then how about working to where you want to be instead of projecting resentment to others.. Just because it’s a problem that YOU can’t relate to doesn’t mean it’s not an issue.

  39. Most people with real jobs need to keep receipts for everything when they travel. NFL people should be happy they don’t have to deal with locality rates. I really don’t feel sorry for them. $75 a day is more than plenty.

  40. Same requirements at my job as well, except we get $25 per day to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner COMBINED.

    BOOHOO! I probably make less than half of a reporter’s salary. If I can make it work, so can they.

  41. Well it’s better than Steve Bornstein’s meal money.

    Since his paycut he’s gone with the Ocho Cinco meal plan: McDonald’s and Starbucks.

    Also, Florio thought manhattan was pricey.

    Look at South Beach. They ask for 18% gratuity and a tip!

    Aren’t a gratuity and a tip the same thing???

  42. As a CFO, these are fairly common rules. My guess is they had someone (Warren Sapp maybe) turning in ridiculous dinners 6 months late. The way you turn a business into one that is worth 5 billion dollars is by watching every nickel.

    My guess, Florio, is that when you sold to NBC, things got a little tighter then as well didn’t it? More rules, more structure. But also more success.

  43. They should be basing the per diem off of location. When I travel for work I’m clearly spending more for meals in Seattle than Norfolk, VA. A freakin’ cheeseburger in Manhattan costs 19 bucks.

  44. NFL is a bunch of cheap bastards. I just get my per diem deposited monthly. I only need receipts for the rental car, hotel, and gas because they pay that separately.

  45. When the world went for profit it went for caca. When profit is all that is important and not people and how to treat them we have come to a sad place in the world. Metrics in the workplace and crap like that is why I hate my job…well, one of the reasons.

    @ wvuandsteelers
    This is exactly what I am talking about. Allowing your employees to have $150 vs the $80 for daily travel expences isn’t going to cost a million or even close. Not even allowing for the differences between the cost of a meal in NY vs Cleveland? I’m not talking about a mom & pop operation, but a billion (with a B) dollar business. All for profit’s sake, huh. This would be cheap even for a million dollar business. People who think like you disgust me.

  46. Fine, you don’t get $15, $20, $40…You get $75 per diem. Does that make you happy?

    $75 per day is more than minimum wage employees make in most states.

  47. wvuandsteelers says:
    Jun 6, 2013 7:30 AM
    As a CFO, these are fairly common rules. My guess is they had someone (Warren Sapp maybe) turning in ridiculous dinners 6 months late.

    I just had a thought in my mind of Sapp declaring bankruptcy and shortly after that “finding” a bunch of receipts for meals to the tune of 30 k or so. Well played, sir.

    When it comes to players, yes it’s harder to find skilled players than it is to find skilled accountants. But when it comes to studio talent/reporters , if the people on NFLN right now are the best of the best, I am very sad. They have at least 5 people I would love never to see again because they are so terrible. There HAVE to be some local team reporters who would do better jobs than some of their studio people.

    It’s probably a combination of abuses and tighter tax regulations due to certain programs that is making NFLN do this.

  48. I’m getting really really tired of the “5 billion dollar business” thing getting thrown around as an excuse in the media for them to criticize some portion of their business. They didn’t get to be a 5 billion dollar business by throwing around money like it was confetti. God forbid they try to operate their business in an efficient manner. If you replaced the word NFL Reporter with Government Employee this story would have been written in a completely different angle.

    My work eliminated meal reimbursements completely two years ago, Cry me a river.

  49. rodneyharrisonstruckstick says:
    Jun 6, 2013 1:59 AM
    These are my favorite comment sections. Where fans of all teams unite as one, to scorn the rich for complaining about money…

    Bravo. I wish i could thumbs up your comment twice.

  50. I would love to see pics of what these reporters are doing after 5 pm and before 8 am on the company’s dime when in strange towns. I doubt they’re attending a book club.

  51. I get what everyone is saying about how it’s ridiculous to complain about the meal budget, but … Florio has a point.

    When you’re on the road for work, it ain’t a vacation. Typically you have do all the work you’d do at your desk in a typical day on top of what you’re doing on the road. That means eating in your room at the hotel, and it’s amazing how much that can cost. I’ve been stuck at places where a stupid cheeseburger (that was not as good as what you’d get at Wendys) was a whopping $30. No kidding.

    It’s true that nowadays you can take your laptop to a restaurant that has wifi, setup your workspace in a booth, and drain their coffee pots. But, that’s not always feasible.

    However, having said all of that … most of the time this kind of policy has it’s roots in people getting free meals (someone else buying, or a group meal got catered) and claiming their meal per diem anyway.

    Also … the $5 a day incidentals thing is really where their people are getting shortchanged.

    When you travel for work, you get shook down by everyone. You have to tip the airport baggage people to make sure your bags arrive where you’re going. If you have anything shipped to you at the hotel (like presentation equipment, or binders, or whatever), you have to tip the hotel staff to make sure that stuff gets “located” in a timely manner. If the AV connections/equipment in a conference room aren’t working properly, you have to tip their AV tech to make sure that getting everything working correctly becomes a priority. You have to pay people extra just to get them to do their job. It’s a ripoff, and your company (not you) should eat that expense.

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