The NFL Players Association wants the league to open its books in an effort to figure out just how much money teams are bringing in. The data in question is detailed, involving the records of all 32 teams, not just the league's financial data. It's a battle that's been waged for almost two years, and the major sticking points in collective bargaining agreement negotiations that could lead to a lockout.
The financial data is a key for the NFLPA as revenue sharing is discussed. The owners have, essentially, been claiming poverty despite the league bringing in billions of dollars in revenue. Open books, and the ability to establish how much revenue the teams have been bringing in compared to the operating costs associated with running an NFL franchise may help accelerate negotiations that have stalled as the two sides remain about $1 billion apart.
On Wednesday, it was all about financial disclosure, with the league offering some level of transparency and the NFLPA counter it wasn't enough. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is looking for everything -- including total operating income, total operating expenses, profit, net income and more -- while the NFL countered with the following:
• audited league-wide profitability data with dollar figures from 2005 to 2009, based on individual club statements;
• the number of teams that have seen a shift in profitability in that span;
• an independent auditor to examine the data.
The disclosure of team's finances has been a point of contention since negotiations began, but the league has stalled until this point. Even with a deadline looming, the NFL is still dragging its feet.
After two extensions last week -- one last 24 hours and another giving the two sides seven days -- a lockout deadline is again looming with just two days of negotiations remaining. If an agreement isn't made about the disclosure of financial data, it's likely the two sides kill negotiations, beginning a lockout. Of course, working under the pressure of a deadline, it's possible another extension is agreed upon, allowing negotiations to continue, at least temporarily. But until the NFLPA gets the data it wants, these negotiations will stall over the biggest stumbling block: money.
Keep an eye on our NFL lockout StoryStream for updates on the negotiations as the deadline looms for the latest on the meetings.