NFL Owners: Continuing to Blow Hundreds of Millions of Dollars of Taxpayer Money Because They Can

I don’t know if you’ve realized this or not, but NFL owners, by and large, are scum-sucking weasels who make Montgomery Burns look like Betty White and will try to extract every last dollar out of your pocket that they possibly can. Sweeping generalization? Yes. A tough statement to prove in the case of the Packers, whose public ownership would likely to try to buy every cheese factory in the state of Wisconsin if they didn’t have a CFO rebuffing their every demand? YOU BET. I’m going to say it anyway, though, particularly because two news items that appeared late last week support my position pretty well.

The first is the Deadspin report detailing the Carolina Panthers’ financial sheets from the past two years. Remember when Jerry Richardson held that press conference during the lockout where he explained to us all what a pie chart was and claimed that NFL owners had a negative cash flow of $200 million? Here’s the video if you don’t recall that off-hand. What a great guy, that Jerry is! Anyway, as the Panthers’ financial statements show, those claims weren’t entirely correct:

The statement is for the years ending March 31, 2011, and March 31, 2012. Over the first period, as Richardson argued that the NFL’s business model was hopelessly broken and steered the owners toward a showdown to extract more money from the players, the Panthers recorded an operating profit of $78.7 million. The team had gone 2-14 on the field, but Richardson and his partners were able to pay themselves $12 million.

Over the following year, after the owners had won their lockout and reduced the players’ share of league revenue from 50 percent to 47 percent, the Panthers brought in $33.3 million in operating profit. Richardson began lobbying for public subsidies to renovate his 17-year-old stadium. The team went 6-10.

So by my crude math, I’d say that’s a profit of about $112 million over two years. Not quite Joe Flacco levels of profit, but not bad, either. And quite a ways off from a negative cash flow of $200 million in any event. Now why would Jerry lie about such a thing when he’s sitting in the proverbial cat-bird seat, as Ken “Hawk” Harrelson might say? Oh, that’s right, I forgot: he’s the devil incarnate. But the money madness is moving on to other owners, too – even ones who seemed slightly less sleazy than the others.

Yes, I’m referring to you, Arthur Blank! Your Falcons play in a stadium called the Georgia Dome, which was built WAY BACK in the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Three. Some of us were barely alive back then to remember its historic opening but still remember that day well. And since it was only twenty years ago, that means it’ll be alive and kicking as the rowdy home of the Falcons for at least another couple decad-

Wait, what?

Atlanta’s mayor and Falcons owner Arthur Blank have agreed to financing terms for a new $1 billion, retractable-roof stadium to replace the 20-year-old Georgia Dome and keep the team’s home games in the city’s downtown, the two men said Thursday.

Mayor Kasim Reed said the city would provide $200 million of construction costs through bonds backed by the city’s hotel-motel tax. The Falcons franchise, owned by Home Depot co-founder Blank, would provide $800 million and be responsible for construction cost overruns.

Well, I guess good for Arthur for paying for 80% of this new monstrosity himself, but it bears repeating that THE CITY OF ATLANTA WILL BE PAYING TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS TO HELP REPLACE A STADIUM THAT IS TWENTY YEARS OLD. I mean…that’s crazy, right? I’ve never been particularly enamored with the Georgia Dome and it’s certainly not on the cutting-edge technology-wise after Jerry World became the new home of the world’s largest television screen, but it can’t be out of date, either. Technology doesn’t change that much in twenty years.

Further, it’s worth pointing out that the people of Georgia completely paid for the construction of the Georgia Dome back when it was built in the early ’90s. You would think after making your fans spend $214 million for something, you’d at least wait a couple generations before asking for that again. Apparently not, however. The lesson, as always: NFL owners are completely and solely in this thing for the sake of printing as much money as they possibly can. THAT, my friends, is the biggest issue that’s going to face the NFL going forward and not player safety. Eventually, we’re going to figure out ways to make the game safer and better protect the athletes who play it. We’d be complete idiots not to. But greed? Greed is one of those things that’s been around forever and is impossible to eradicate once it takes hold in an institution.


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