Players' union leader DeMaurice Smith indicated Wednesday that NFL owners have lowered from $1 billion to $800 million the amount of additional revenues they want to take off the top of their $9 billion business.
He also was clear he considers that lower figure still too high because the league is not offering to turn over enough financial information.
Leaving the 14th day of mediated talks in Washington – and with the labor contract set to expire Friday – Smith called the information the NFL proposed to provide “utterly meaningless.” The union rejected what the league offered to give; that financial information doesn’t include data requested nearly two years ago by Smith in a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell.
“Just to be absolutely clear, the information that was offered wasn’t what we asked for,” Smith said, “and, according to our investment bankers and advisers, they told us that information would be meaningless in determining whether to write an $800 million check to the National Football League” in each year of a new deal.
“We have requested access to fully audited financial statements since May 2009.”
A person familiar with the negotiations said the NFL offered to turn over five years of league-wide profitability data to the union – an offer that was rejected.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the mediator overseeing the negotiations has told participants not to publicly discuss details.
According to the person, the NFL’s proposal to the union included:
• audited league-wide profitability data with dollar figures from 2005-09 that wouldn’t show club-by-club information;
• the number of teams that have seen a shift in profitability in that span;
• an independent auditor to examine the data.
The NFLPA long has demanded the league give it full access to financial data – including team-by-team information – and made that a central issue in contract talks.
The current deal dates to 2006, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008.