It’s doubtful any of us stay up nights worrying about the financial stability of the National Football League. After all, considering the NFL brought in $8.1 billion last year (each of the 32 teams received roughly $255 million), what could the problem be?
The figure was released by the Green Bay Packers, who, as the league’s only publicly-owned team, have to release their financial statement each year. There was no comment from the NFL and nothing posted on NFLcom.
“We’re very fortunate that we’ve seen the kind of growth that we have, and I feel very confident that we’ll continue to see it, at least through the rest of this collective bargaining agreement,” Packers president Mark Murphy said on a conference call, per The Green Bay Press-Gazette.
When you consider each franchise’s base created by the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (which expires after 2020 season), add in the local revenue stream generated from ticket sales, stadium advertising, licensing fees, local radio rights and local television (for preseason games), and finally factor in the enormous tax breaks and real estate deals, it makes you wonder why the league tends to drag its feet on some issues, notably on the anthem, concussions and franchise relocation.
The Packers picked up an additional $199 million from revenues not generated by national television deals.
The current hot button issue is the national anthem policy. Forbes reported in late May television ratings for NFL games last year dropped by 9.7 percent, but taking the hit were the networks and not the NFL. Murphy said the league wasn’t hurt by the protests. So far, the NFL hasn’t returned any of the revenue from the rights fees paid by the networks. However, if there’s another ratings drop that could change if the networks get testy.
Another time bomb issue are concussions, which after years feuding in the headlines (1994-2017) ended up in a $765 million settlement package, which frankly seems low since players are retiring every year, many because of injuries. The NFL has so much money, but instead of quickly settling and avoiding bad publicity, the league lowballed the union.
The issue took several dark turns with the deaths of Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster and San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau’s suicide from a gunshot wound. Seau’s autopsy revealed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Also, committing suicide was New England linebacker Aaron Hernandez, who hung himself while in prison.
However, hits to the head still only cost the offending team 15 yards.
Hernandez’s former team built Patriots Place, which is an open-air shopping center – with hotels – adjacent to Gillette Stadium. Part of the money generated there goes to Tom Brady’s salary.
A similar development was built outside Lambeau Field called Titletown and will include residences. Part of the money generated there goes to Aaron Rodgers’ salary.
The money keeps rolling in, but some teams still aren’t satisfied. The Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles; the Chargers from San Diego to Los Angeles; and the Raiders will move from Oakland to Las Vegas. They moved because they couldn’t get the taxpayers to fund the construction of new stadiums.
In the last 20 years, taxpayers shelled out more than $7 billion dollars to build or renovate NFL stadiums (46 percent of the total cost of those projects). New stadiums have been built in Dallas, Miami, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Washington, Baltimore and Detroit. Atlanta paid for two NFL stadiums.
A new stadium was also built in New York, shared by the Giants and Jets, but it was built without the taxpayers picking up the tab. But, a lot of their dollars still end up in NFL coffers.