At the request of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash (right), who leads the owners’ CBA negotiating team, responded to an opinion piece written by former Green Bay Packers lineman Ken Ruettgers which focused on financial transparency in the labor negotiations.
Following is Pash’s column as it appeared in today’s Press-Gazette.
Packers’ falling profits a glimpse of NFL’s shaky revenue structure
The goal of the NFL clubs is to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement that is forward-looking and fair to everyone — clubs, current and retired players, and, most of all, the fans.
We know that an agreement can and will be reached to improve the game and build a better league. It can and should be done with no work stoppage, which would hurt everyone.
We have shown the union how and why the current system does not work. The Green Bay Packers’ recent financial statement illustrates the point — operating profits declining every year since 2006 while player costs continue to rise. Last year, the union said the Packers’ profits proved the NFL is very healthy. This year, when Green Bay’s profits fell in half, the union changed its tune, saying one club’s financials do not reflect the overall league.
Every fan knows times have changed. We have to change as well. If we do so thoughtfully, together with our players, the game will continue to grow. We can present even better fan experiences and improve the quality of everything we do.
Thanks to tremendous fan support, the NFL is successful. But we can’t — and won’t — take that support and success for granted. To build on them, we must properly balance revenue and costs. Our business model needs to be fixed and, if we have learned anything from the current economic downturn, it is that you don’t wait until it’s too late to right the ship.
Our Collective Bargaining Agreement gives the union extensive audit rights and access to an enormous amount of financial data on each club. This includes total revenue, total player compensation and many stadium and other costs. We have provided substantial additional information on expenses we are asking to be recognized in a new CBA.
Companies “open their books” when they say they are losing money. But fans should know that opening the books doesn’t lead to agreements. Other leagues opened their books to prove financial losses and still experienced work stoppages. This year, when the NBA turned over its financials, its union called the losses “baloney.”
Our proposals recognize economic reality and will build on a system that has been good to all of us. We can improve by substituting two meaningful games for two lower quality preseason games, making further investments in player safety and shifting money from untested rookies to proven veterans and deserving retired players — a win for players, fans and clubs.
Our players are the world’s most dedicated and talented athletes. Their compensation has doubled during the past decade and their pay and benefits will continue to grow if we structure an agreement that allows us to build the game together.
We will not accept the status quo. Neither should fans. With a Collective Bargaining Agreement more firmly grounded in economic reality, we can fulfill the vision of NFL owners to improve the game, enhance the fan experience and build a better NFL.