NFL Lockout: Owners And Players Argue Over Financial Disclosure

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday (R) arrives for negotiations at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 8, 2011 in Washington, DC. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement between players and owners. (Photo by Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)

The big news many are gobbling up (other than the college basketball conference tourney previews and scores) is the ongoing fight between the owners and the players over the disclosure of team finances. This is a slippery slope for owners on many levels.

For one, certain owners don't want other owners to see what they make, or how they use their money. I'm sure people like Robert Kraft would get a big laugh out of how much money Bill Polian pays his son, Chris, in comparison to how much Robert pays his brood in New England.

Regardless of whatever egos might be bruised by financial disclosure, the reality is the owners must show the books because their demands are, quite simply, ridiculous.The owners want the players to take less than 50% of each dollar earned, which is less than the players have gotten annually over the last decade. Naturally, the players won't budge from their position, nor should they, until they see the owners' books.

One cannot cry poverty unless one is willing to disclose their financial records, especially in a business that generates $9 billion in annual revenue.

PFT explains, with some help from Mike Silver at Yahoo! Sports:

As Silver explains it, the owners’ options are clear.  Give up the financial information that supports a decrease in the players’ share of the revenue, or reduce the demands.  Silver accurately calls it a tax on the ability to keep the financial information secret.  He even suggests that, for some owners, the desire for secrecy may go beyond avoiding embarrassing disclosures or giving information to one of their 31 partner/competitors.  Silver hints that the books could reveal "even shady dealings that might attract outside attention from authorities."

The 'shady dealings' part is the second level of concern for some owners. I don't think it would surprise any of us if certain owners were dirty. And in an age where local taxpayers are bled dry in order to pay for over-priced, under-used stadiums from which the owners earn much of the profit, I for one am in favor of owners disclosing financial information.

I mean, if you aren't doing anything wrong, what is there to hide?

Regardless, the books will be disclosed, either willingly or by litigation, and if it comes to litigation, football as we know it will be dead.

The owners need to cave, and I think they know it. Why else are Art Rooney, Clark Hunt, and John Mara (the children of legendary owners Dan Rooney, Lamar Hunt, and Wellington Mara) attending today's mediation sessions? It seems the adults are now in the room. Hopefully, Jerry Richardson is sulking in the hallway outside.

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