22nd January 2011
I’m an optimist in life, but for most there are few things in life you can really trust. I can trust that the sun will come up tomorrow, and unless you’re part of the Flat Earth Society, I can say the world is round. Some will say, you can really only trust yourself. Some will say they trust in God.
But, there are some things I’m not going to trust others to. I’m not going to let some random person off the street check my parachute before I go skydiving or let a high schooler conduct surgery on me. Common sense, right?
And, if I work in a union, I’m not going to accept, “Just trust us,” when it comes to negotiating my pay.
I am neither a union member or NFL player, but you can understand what they’re asking for in terms of their labor situation, which is the status quo, and if you want to ask us for a pay cut, please open your books. For me to report on the league’s position – that they are seeing declines in cash flow – it’s irresponsible to accept “the economic realities show we’re hurting” without, well… more than that.
I have always prided myself on objectivity. In working with several sports leagues, most closely with Major League Baseball, they would agree with that assessment. So, it’s an odd feeling to look into the numbers that are available on the NFL’s economics without the league doing anything more than stonewall the media, fans, and players on why they are willing to possibly lockout the players after March 3 while working from the position of, “it’s none of your business.”
So, when my Forbes SportsMoney piece Numbers Show NFL’s ‘Economic Realities’ for Lockout Unwarranted started making the rounds with the league’s players, there was a bit of discomfort in it. They’ve trumped it as part of their rallying cry.
For those that haven’t read the article, it is done in an FAQ format, going over the issues in the labor battle between NFL and the NFLA. When going over it, one might say that about 90 percent of the data shows that owners’ position for a lockout is, as the article says, “unwarranted.”
But, the larger issue, and the one I was truly trying to make was, you can’t take a $9 billion industry that saw revenues grow in the worst economy since the Great Depression; one that pulls in over $4 billion in TV revenues; had the highest viewed season in television history, and is over the verge of inking an extension with ESPN for Monday Night Football to the tune of nearly $2 billion annually for the rights to air one game a week and say you are hurting… “Trust us.” The real point of the article is, “prove it.”
This isn’t rocket science. The league shouldn’t act like you’re from outer space for saying, “Huh?” At its most basic level, by working from a “it’s none of your business” position, it makes it look like you have something to hide. If you want to be seen as credible, give me the evidence.
Since “Unwarranted” I have gone to the next best information available, Forbes’ NFL franchise valuations, and poured over them. I collected, queried, and examined the data back to 2004. That was then published in Instead Of Player Pay Cuts, NFL Needs More Revenue Sharing and More Numbers Show Labor Issue in NFL Far From Cut and Dry.
I want to take the NFL serious. I’m addicted to telling both sides to the story. So, to the NFL, I’ll say it again, “You’re just going to have to do better… trust me.”