Packers' financial records give numbers both sides will claim

Depending on which side you sit on this one – whether you’re aligned with the owners or the players – you’ll have a dramatically different take on the opening of the books today by the Green Bay Packers.

On a conference call, the Packers revealed that overall revenue grew by $10 million to a record high $258 million this past year and that the bottom line also grew. The Packers’ net profit was $5.2 million, up from $4 million the previous year.

But like most things, it’s not quite that simple. The operating profit, the number the owners are going to cling to, dropped significantly. The Packers reported an operating profit of $9.8 million, which is less than half of the $20.1 million it was at a year ago and far off from the $34 million the figure stood at from 2006-2007. Team president Mark Murphy said player costs are growing at twice the rate of revenue. Yes, you can expect to hear more of that in the near future.

What did you expect? It’s a mixed bag and each side is going to have something to add to its argument. The result might be better for the players than some expected. It had looked like the NFL owners were planning to capitalize in a big way on the news with commissioner Roger Goodell scheduled to attend the annual shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field on July 29.

The NFLPA has called for the teams to open their book but the Packers are the only one legally bound to do so because of its ownership structure. That is simply not going to happen though.

As the National Football Post’s Andrew Brandt noted in his column this morning, the annual opening of the books in Green Bay has always been a big affair. Brandt was the contract negotiator for the team for nearly a decade. He would know.

“The former Executive Director of the NFLPA, the late Gene Upshaw, used treat the Packer financials like the Magna Carta, saying that if tiny Green Bay – the smallest NFL market– could show profit, imagine how well rest of the league fares?” Brandt wrote.

Well, Smith, who followed Upsahw, is still going to say that he wants to see the remaining 31 books opened up to the players. Otherwise, from the players’ standpoint, how can meaningful discussions on profits and margins take place? The Packers have maintained in the past that their business, and profit margins, has made doing longterm extension tricky at times. Player costs are up they say. Maybe that explains the recent line of players waiting to get paid. The agents sure would like to believe there is an explanation.

The rhetoric is only growing louder. Imagine what it will be like at the end of this season. Imagine where it will be if no new agreement is in place this time next year when the Packers are opening their books once again.

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