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What The Carolina Panthers Financial Documents Leak Means For Indianapolis Colts Fans

If Jerry Richardson hauled in a $112 million dollar profit in two seasons with a team that went a combined 13-19 with no playoff appearances, how much do you think Colts owner Jim Irsay roped in? [Hint: It was probably a helluva lot!]

Rob Carr

Yes, by now you know that Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is a lying scumbag. None of us really thought all that well of him back when he was insulting Peyton Manning at the negotiating table during the labor talks back in 2011, but getting caught lying is a different story.

And lying in an attempt to swindle more money out of taxpayers and the NFLPA is pretty much unforgivable.

I say "swindle" because that's pretty much what Richardson did, if you believe the leaked Carolina Panthers financial reports that Deadpsin posted yesterday.

For the year ending March 31, 2011, the Panthers recorded an operating profit of $78.7 million. During this time, Richardson was telling the NFLPA, media, and fans that the Panthers were losing money and that the NFL system was broken. Deadspin recalls this period of time in their article:

A witness told Yahoo's Michael Silver about a March 2010 meeting at which Richardson addressed his fellow owners: "Jerry said, 'We signed a [expletive] deal last time, and we're going to stick together and take back our league and [expletive] do something about it.' He was practically yelling. It was amazing, and it set an incredible tone." In one memorable press conference before the work stoppage, Richardson, now 76 years old, drew a crude pie chart that showed the players swallowing up a preponderance of league revenue.

That gap between the $78.7 mill in 2011 and the operating profit of $33 million for the year ending March 2012 was because the Panthers actually spent money on players.

All of these revelations about Richardson lying and hiding the fact that he was ranking in a $112 million dollar profit over two years come at a time when he is looking for the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina to build him a new stadium. The new stadium option was highly unpopular even before Deadpsin's article.

Now, as Colts fans, take a moment to stop and think about how all this affects Indiana residents.

The Panthers have a combined record of 35-45 since 2008. I'm using 2008 as the starting point because that's when the Colts opened Lucas Oil Stadium. Lucas Oil was a publicly funded stadium, with roughly $620 million of the $720 million dollar construction cost coming from the pockets of Indiana residents. Colts owner Jim Irsay paid $100 million of his own money, and doesn't pay one single cent for the yearly operating cost of roughly $20 million dollars. That too is billed to Indiana taxpayers. Since 2008, the Colts have a 49-31. They've been to the playoffs four out of five seasons, and played in the Super Bowl in 2010.

If Jerry Richardson hauled in a $112 million dollar profit in two seasons with a team that went a combined 13-19 with no playoff appearances, how much do you think Colts owner Jim Irsay roped in? [Hint: It was probably a helluva lot more than Richardson]

Take a look at this section of Deadspin's article for context [emphasis mine]:

If we shuffle around the line items on page 5 in the viewer below, we can get a broader sense of where an NFL team's revenue comes from. The Panthers' local revenue—game receipts, luxury suites, and so on—was $95 million in 2011 and $98 million in 2012. (Incidentally, Carolina's ticket prices are among the lowest in the league.) Revenue from the league—national TV contract, NFL Ventures—was $150 million in 2011 and $155 million in 2012. In other words, the league kitty accounts for more than 60 percent of the Panthers' operating revenue. Why is that important? Local money lay at the heart of the lockout. The impetus behind the work stoppage wasn't so much player costs as it was a widening gap among teams in stadium-generated revenue. The lockout, as we've written many times before, was actually an intramural dispute that the owners chose to take out on the players instead.

You could also insert "and the fans" into the "owners chose to take out on..." line.

Factor in that, during the time Deadspin notes, the Colts ticket prices are among the highest in the league. They were also selling out every home game.

Basically, when all is said and done, if a snake like Richardson racking in all that dough, what's Irsay hauling in? Especially considering that he plays in a stadium he didn't pay much for, and that he doesn't have to maintain.

While you ponder that, please note that I don't think it's healthy to necessarily pick up pitch forks and start bashing Jim Irsay. However, I think it is time that owners like Irsay start being a bit more open about their financials. Richardson is now painted as a liar, and if you are a fan of the Panthers and you continue to give this swollen sack of lard your money, you're a chump. That simple. Richardson should be run out of town for this revelation. It's impossible to take him seriously as a credible NFL owner going forward, at least in my book.

I know one thing, if Irsay had ever lied and gotten caught in a similar manner, the man would no longer be able to walk the streets of Indianapolis without an armed escort, ala what he has to deal with when he drives through Baltimore.

The point is we live in a time where the uber-rich are pretty transparently taking advantage of everyone else, and sports is no exception. I see it every day when I interact with fans here and on Twitter, or when I chat with folks on the street. The anger is real, and it continues to boil. And it's not just fans who are pissed off:

A bit of honesty, a bit of transparency would help quell this anger.

Oh, and the owners kicking Richardson out on his bloated keester would be another good show of faith. Obviously, they aren't going to do that because, chances are, the rest of them were lying they're asses off when they said they were losing money back in 2011. By the way, they gave commissioner Roger Goodell a $30 million dollar raise.

All this lying and greedy dealing does is continue to erode away the trust we fans put in these teams. If something does not change, eventually the greed will kill the sport.