Players union head DeMaurice Smith has called on NFL owners to release audited financial statements to support their claim that they're struggling financially. The owners have so far refused, but the Packers, as a publicly owned franchise, are the one franchise that has no choice in the matter. Their financial information shows an increase in total revenue from $241 million to $247.9 million.
But as Murphy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, NFL owners don't seem to think their revenue is growing fast enough to cope with the growth of players' salaries, which Murphy says increased by $14 million in the same time period:
"The current system looks at total revenue and doesn't recognize the cost the owners incur to generate that revenue," Murphy said. "You invest in new stadiums, incur a huge annual debt service and there's no credit for that. That's a big flaw in the system."The numbers the Packers released, as outlined in the Journal-Sentinel story, show the Packers' national revenue from the NFL up to $147.1 million (including $94.5 million in national TV revenue) from $135 million ($87 million from TV) the year before. It shows a drop in local revenue from $105 million to $100.8 million and a drop in "Marketing, Pro Shop and Atrium Revenue" from $50.2 million to $43.7 million. But as pointed out in the story, much of the local revenue drop is likely attributable to the facts that the team went 6-10 and longtime franchise icon and marketing magnet Brett Favre was no longer its quarterback.
"Despite the tough economic conditions, team officials emphasized that it would have no impact on the franchise's football operations. 'We have placed no restriction on football in terms of what they need to be successful,' Murphy said. 'We are continuing to provide them all of the resources they need to sign players and be competitive on the field.'Smith told FanHouse last week that early talks with the league have convinced him of an intent on the part of owners to lock the players out in 2011 in an effort to alter a collective bargaining structure that currently allots nearly 60 percent of league revenues to players. Part of the reason the union believes this is that the newly extended TV deals the league has with national networks will pay off even if there are no games that season. The Packers' "piggy-bank" concept would seem to feed into the notion that the owners would not only survive but could potentially make money in the event of a lockout.
At the same time, the team is sound financially, team officials said. The Packers' Preservation Fund, a piggy-bank of sorts for the franchise, remains at $127.5 million."
Regardless, the Packers' financial information doesn't do a lot to support the owners' claim that they're in any kind of desperate financial straits. If anything, it suggests that they're just not making quite as much money as they're all used to making.
Join the club, fellas.