The Secretive World of NFL Profits


It wasn't too surprising that when the March 31, 2011, & March 31, 2012 financial documents of the Carolina Panthers were leaked to the press, it made Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson very angry!

In 2011, Richardson had argued that "the NFL's business model was hopelessly broken", and he was instrumental in rallying the owners into an effort to reduce monies shared with the players. (The result was a reduction in revenue sharing from the old CBA of 50% - 47% in the new CBA going to the players.) But that's not the whole story.

At the same time, while claiming that NFL team owners had "a negative cash flow of $200 million", Jerry's Panthers recorded an operating profit of $78.7 million, according to the report.

The profitability of most NFL teams is a highly kept secret. The owners certainly don't want the NFLPA knowing exactly how much money they made after all expenses are covered. They certainly don't want the fans to know, as the ticket prices seem to escalate each year.

That's why the Panthers organization was quick to respond to the article with a disclaimer.

The flip side of the coin is the Green Bay Packers publicly owned franchise. Their profit & loss records are public knowledge. The Packers said they had $42.7 million in net income in 2011-12, an increase of 150 percent over the previous year.

Their total revenue was $302 million, and so all but 14% of it was paid out. (The latest report didn't include $64 million raised through a six-week stock sale around the Christmas season.)

But where exactly does the revenue come from and how is it split up?

According to "Revenue in the NFL reached an estimated $9.5 billion in 2011-12." Some reports have it currently at 10.1 billion, so lets just take that nice round figure of 10 billion to play with. Do the NFL players get 47% of that figure ON TOP OF their salaries?

NFL Communications dot com explains it this way.

"Beginning in 2012, salary cap to be set based on a combined share of "all revenue," a new model differentiated by revenue source with no expense reductions. Players will receive 55 percent of national media revenue, 45 percent of NFL Ventures revenue, and 40 percent of local club revenue." ("with no expense reductions" is the key element here.)

National Media Revenue: (Quoted from Forbes)

"Mansell calculates ( that the league's total national media revenue (what each of the 32 teams divide equally each season), including what the league gets from ESPN, NFL Sunday Ticket, Direct TV, Verizon and radio, will increase to $5.2 billion from $4.3 billion."

At 55%, 2.82 billion will go to the players. (How is it split between the players?)

NFL Ventures:

Based upon leaked documents, the NFL's 2010 Ventures accounted for $1.8 billion of the league's $8 billion in revenue, or nearly one quarter. Based on the new CBA, if that money stayed the same this year (it always goes up)...

At 40%, 720 million went to the players. (How is it split between the players?)

Local Club Revenue: This revenue is based upon ticket sales and concessions, etc.

60% is retained by the home team with the other 40% going to the away team. There is no easy way to calculate what that figure is for any team. You can take the ticket sales, and guesstimate the concessions, but be nowhere near the actual figures.

The report by Forbes on the Broncos lists the 2012 gate receipts at 60 Million and operating income at 49.3 million. Let's call it 110 million combined, so...

At 40%, 44 million went to the players. Keep in mind that every other NFL team is kicking into this kitty!

After looking this deep into the NFL's pockets, I realized how little I really know about it all. I don't feel the least bit sorry for either the NFL owners or the players, NOT IN THE LEAST.

We hear about all the players declaring bankruptcy, and I say, 'Get a grip!' If these guys can't put away some money that's their own fault! So what! No one cares whether or not I invested in my retirement.

If these guys are bitching about health problems after the NFL career, SO WHAT! They chose the career KNOWING what kind of job description came with it.

It's no different then me choosing a career in carpentry. I could have cut a hand off over the last 30 some years, but all I lost is a finger. So what! I knew the dangers, and I was very careful, but accidents happen in many different careers.

I look at this report as incomplete, but I'm definitely going to dig deeper into it at some point. Any input you all can give me that may help my research will be greatly appreciated. (Got the inside scoop you want to share?)

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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