Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Jan 2011

MMQB: Labor Cloud Hangs Heavy

PK covers this week's games before going on to update the looming labor crisis.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 17 Jan 2011

20 comments, Last at 18 Jan 2011, 2:50pm by Dennis Doubleday


by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 12:37pm

I think a year without the NFL would be a nice change of pace. I remember the two strike years fondly.

(Yeah, I was a Tampa fan in the 80s and am a Carolina fan now. Strikes help teams like us in the standings and the DVOA and stuff.)

by Spoon :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 1:09pm

Ah, the "Sanchez just wins football games" narrative begins. And let's be honest, we all knew that this column is where it would start.

by TV_Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 1:24pm

I'd like it if some of that money flowed down to lower ticket prices, although I'm not expecting it.

I'd like to see a true rookie cap/slotting in place, but with 3-year contracts to start. Those who do well get better 2nd contracts. However, most QB should sit on the bench for their rookie season and maybe 2nd season. That Aaron Rodgers guy seems to be doing OK now after sitting out his entire 4-year contract.

I understand less of a desire for the 18-game season (wear and tear). I think it would be better to keep 16-game season, but make tickets no more than half priced during preseason.

The players are risking their bodies while playing a game, but so are people in many other fields who make far less. The owners are risking a LOT of money and expect at least a modest Return On Investment (ROI). I'd be happy to see less pay to the players and more spent on lifelong health care and guidance/counseling (pension?) for former players.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 2:07pm

The owners aren't "risking" much money at all. The TV deal virtually guarantees a profit and in the majority of cases they get the stadiums paid for by the public. (Check out the sale price of the Rams in the midst of a recession to see how desirable owning an NFL team still is.) The owners are basically on the hook for payroll, which is a cost entirely within their own control. The players are greedy, too, but to buy into the owners' argument that it's just too hard to make it in the NFL is incredibly naive.

The other thing frequently ignored is that standard ROIs are a much smaller part of owning an NFL team than it is in a normal business. These owners are billionaires and for the vast majority the football team isn't their primary income. It's incalcuable how much their other business interests are aided by the name recognition they get from owning an NFL team. And it's a toy their rivals almost certainly can't have given the scarcity of franchises. Just as rich guys don't buy original Ford Cobras for transportation, so they do not buy NFL teams just for the ROI.

by morganja :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 2:32pm

Not only in the risk not commensurate with the compensation, but the Return On Investment is ludicrously high, especially in this economic environment. They are getting ROI more in line with an investment with a 20% chance of failure than the virtually risk-free investment they have.

by Daniel2772 :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 11:22pm

What exactly are you basing these statements on? The Packers are the only NFL team that opens their books to the public and they showed a $5.8 million dollar profit last year. I understand that this figure is above and beyond all operating costs, but for a business valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars this seems like a very narrow margin for error. And many of the teams are the primary businesses of the owners and their largest source of income. And even the billionaires that own teams don't pay for them outright in cash, the leverage other assets to generate the revenue necessary to buy the teams in the first place and have very high interest payments and other expenses. I am not saying that people should feel sad for the plight of the owners, but to characterize them all as fabulously wealthy with bags of money to burn on an nfl franchise they treat like a toy, rather than a business off base. Unless you can provide financial statements and other documentation to prove otherwise.



by morganja :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 11:36pm

Check out the Forbes valuation of NFL franchises. Check out the prices of NFL franchises compared to what they were bought for in the past. Compare the appreciation of the franchise + their discounted yearly profits.

Not only is all the evidence that the owners are making way above average ROI, but anyone who says that they need a new contract because they are in financial trouble but refuse to provide numbers is clearly lying.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Tue, 01/18/2011 - 12:31am

It is only a way-above average ROI if they find a buyer and sell it. And that doesn't put any money in their pockets right now. Forbes valuations have very little to do with the day to day costs/expenses vs revenues.

Things are great for the NFL now, but all bubbles burst. I'd think we could all recognize the value of protecting oneself from potential negative future events. The game has thrived through a rough economy in general, but that doesn't mean that will always be the case.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 3:45pm

Rodgers sat out the first three years of his original five-year contract - each season after his rookie season was preceded by a Favre I-may-or-I-may-not retire offseason. (And BF had started talking about retirement a couple years earlier.) But I agree that it helps most QBs not to start until sitting on the bench a season or two. Rodgers was easily ready to start by his third year, but that other guy just wouldn't retire.

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 5:03pm

I wouldn't mind it if they expanded the performance payout to rookies.

So rookies get much smaller deals overall, but there is a pot of performance based money which is handed out each year.

by snoopy369 :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 1:36pm

Thanks for linking the printer friendly version - much easier to read :)

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 2:07pm

Petter King's playoffs picks wtong alreasy. He picked Pates over paxkers super bowl. Now can pet t. Bardy's mane all offseason..

by John (not verified) :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 2:24pm

Be careful: mispronouncing T. Bardy will almost certainly violate rule #1.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 3:32pm

Actually, pre-season I think he picked Steelers-Packers. He's the only one I can think of that gave the Steelers a chance in those four games without Ben.

Other than me, of course. But I meant among the pundits/"experts".

by dmb :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 5:27pm

Yes, that was King's preseason prediction. FO's DVOA projections predicted the Steelers to be the 2nd-best team in the league, but the team that was projected at #1 was the Ravens. Bill Barnwell predicted the Steelers to make the Super Bowl.

Semi-related, most of the staff picked GB to be the NFC representative, though Atlanta had the higher DVOA projection.

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 5:14pm

Big Ben's quote about close wins is pretty awesome.

by jebmak :: Mon, 01/17/2011 - 9:02pm

Agreed. I wish that I knew if PK's following comment were tongue in cheek.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 01/18/2011 - 12:47am

It doesn't seem to be tongue-in-cheek to me. I'd think PK simply thinks Roethlisberger is better in close games. I think a lot of people refuse to believe the extent to which luck plays a role. But I think Big Ben has it pretty much right.

by Dennis Doubleday (not verified) :: Tue, 01/18/2011 - 2:50pm

OK, whatever. Good thing for Pittsburgh that all of Flacco's luck is when Big Ben isn't playing! :-)

by VarlosZ :: Tue, 01/18/2011 - 12:54pm

I like PK just fine, and I sometimes enjoy his non-football digressions, but this was maybe the most pointless snippet of writing from a professional that I've read in a long time:

"g. Going to see True Grit this week. Really want to see The King's Speech.

h. Anything happen in the Golden Globes? Missed it. Just know Melissa Leo was winning something when I looked up at the TV at one point."