NFL memo to sports editors nationwide:
The NFLPA’s letter to you attempts to rewrite the facts and rewrite history.
Beginning in March 2006, when the CBA was last extended, and continuing until earlier this year, the NFLPA repeatedly and publicly recognized — in fact, trumpeted — the fact that players receive 60 percent of NFL revenues.
In January 2008, only seven months before he passed away, no less an authority than Gene Upshaw, who negotiated the 2006 CBA, told Bloomberg News, “We’re getting 60 percent of the revenues and when it’s all said and done, we’re not giving any of it back. I think they have to live with their 40 percent.”
On its own website in an August 2008 press release celebrating the legacy of Upshaw, the NFLPA wrote, “In 2006, during the most recent set of labor negotiations with franchise owners, Upshaw secured nearly 60 percent of total league revenues for the players.” Nothing has changed in the interim except the union’s rhetoric.
The NFLPA’s revisionist history relies on a sleight-of-hand. The NFLPA ignores the fact that certain monies, which they characterize as an “expense credit” or “gift” for the owners, are committed to revenue-generating costs and investments such as stadiums. Those are not dollars that the owners receive “off the top,” as the union claims. They are not dollars that anyone — owners or players — can put in their pockets.
Of the dollars available for allocation, the players receive about 60 percent and the owners receive about 40 percent. That is no less true today than it was in 2006 when the CBA was signed, in 2008 when Gene Upshaw made clear the union’s position, or before the union revised its rhetoric in an effort to secure political support for its negotiating position.
Arguments over percentages and allocations — whether the players receive 60 percent of the revenues or “only” 52 percent — obscure the facts that really matter. Over the past 10 years, players have received $31 billion in compensation and benefits, including $4.5 billion last year alone. The average player received over $2 million in compensation in 2009 with the minimum salary for an NFL player of $310,000 (U.S. median household income in 2009 was $51,425 according to the U.S. Census Bureau).
Those numbers all continue to go up. NFL player compensation has doubled in the past decade. The NFLPA itself announced only two weeks ago in a Dec. 3 story by The Associated Press that NFL player compensation had increased by six percent this year. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s latest Employment Cost Index, the average salary and wages of a civilian worker increased 1.5 percent from September 2009 to September 2010.
We want your readers to know that our goal and commitment is to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement that is fair to players, teams, and fans. That agreement will not be influenced by rhetoric, sleights-of-hand, or a propaganda effort that simply ignores the facts.