Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The NFL is revealing more financial information.
But it’s still not being transparent enough for the NFL Players Association’s tastes.
With the extension deadline Friday, the league and the players union have made some progress in talks led by federal mediator George Cohen in Washington. The sides have agreed to implement a rookie wage scale, according to Yahoo! Sports, and they are hundreds of millions of dollars closer to a new deal.
Unfortunately, NFL owners insisted players give back $1 billion, so there’s still a sizable gap and the union wants more financial information to get a clearer picture of the owners’ concerns.
They shouldn’t hold their breath, said Susan Tose Spencer, the former general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles. In the early 1980s, she was promoted from vice president/ legal counsel to acting general manager, and she sat in on negotiations during the 1982 strike year.
“What hasn’t changed is the players are still asking for the owners’ financial information,” she said. “They want them to prove they need the extra billion. That’s never going to happen, not in a million years.
“It just unnecessarily opens up Pandora’s box.”
NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said the league has given the NFLPA plenty of financial information and that the issue “really should be behind us.”
“We’ve made more information available in the course of this negotiation than has ever been made available in decades of collective bargaining with the NFLPA,” Pash said Wednesday morning, according to the NFL Network. “Far more information. And we’ve offered to make even more information [available], including information that we do not disclose to our own clubs.”
But the Associated Press obtained a letter dated in May 2009 from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith that asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to “provide audited financial statements concerning the operations of the 32 clubs and the league.”
Smith then outlined a list of specific categories he wanted, including total operating income, total operating expenses, profit from operations, net income and cash and investment assets.
In recent days, though, union representatives have maintained the financial information they’ve received hasn’t fulfilled their needs.
“Anyone that reports that we’ve gotten that information and rejected it is simply not telling the truth,” NFLPA president Kevin Mawae said, according to the NFL Network.
If a deal isn’t reached by Friday, the sides could agree to another extension, or the players could decertify, setting in motion antitrust lawsuits against NFL owners. The league could lock out the players. One of the league’s key points was to turn two preseason games into regular season games, but Smith said Wednesday that is not going to happen, according to Sports Illustrated.
Spencer said she believes the league is going through the motions, because their primarily leverage is to lock out players.
“There’s a psychological advantage,” Spencer said. “You lock them out, and you sweat them out.
“That’s, in fact, what our strategy was the last time. Let them smell the possibility of not having any money. Let it sink in. The pressure to settle will come from the players.”