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{ In his latest guest column, former NFL punter Nick Murphy wonders why owners aren't being financially transparent in the face of a lockout. }
Author: Nick Murphy, Special to NFLPlayers.com Posted: 2/15/2011

Nick Murphy is a former NFL punter. During his NFL career, Murphy spent time on the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. He also played in NFL Europe, where he was named an all-league selection in consecutive seasons. After last playing in 2005, Murphy earned his MBA from Arizona State University and currently works with professional athletes, assisting them in their transition into the business world.

Last week, the NFL owners walked away from the bargaining table again, cancelling meetings scheduled between the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association.

It has become abundantly clear to me that the NFL owners do not look at the players as true partners in the business of football. The reality is that the league and its players are partners in a highly profitable joint venture, and both deserve the other side’s respect. It’s clear that the owners no longer respect the players and it’s going to cost fans NFL games if it continues.

How did we get here at a time when things seem so good for everyone—fans, players and owners alike?

Let me tell you a story.

The Story of Patrick Player & Larry League

Patrick Player goes into business with Larry League. Considering a 50/50 split of "all revenue," Patrick earns 60 percent of "total revenue" from the joint venture while Larry is entitled to the remaining 40 percent. However, the equity of the overall business belongs 100 percent to Larry and Patrick does all of the work.

Business is good. Profits skyrocket and the 32 divisions that exist within Patrick and Larry’s joint venture all grow in value by several hundred percent in less than a decade. Both Larry and Patrick are cash rich, yet Larry retains all of the equity value that’s accumulated from the business’ success.

At times, Patrick is frustrated with this situation yet he honors the deal he has agreed to, coming to work each day and putting his heart and soul into his job. Meanwhile, Larry decides that the deal he agreed to is unfair and he opts to void the contract early, citing escalating expenses in the cost of doing business.

In new negotiations, Larry asks Patrick to keep sharing cash at 60/40 but insists that the first 22 percent, or $2 billion dollars in this case, go directly to Larry while the remaining revenue is split 60/40. In addition, Larry asks Patrick, who completes nearly all of the actual work already, to increase his workload by 13 percent, potentially shortening the time Patrick can realistically perform his duties and earn his share of the revenue.

Because Patrick has no back-end equity rewarding him for the business’ success once he can no longer physically perform his role, Patrick requests financial statements from Larry validating the increasing costs of doing business and the associated losses that Larry says exist.

Larry says “No.” He threatens to change the locks on the building and keep Patrick, his business partner, from continuing his work in the business. At the same time Larry is threatening to lock out his key employee, he negotiates a guarantee of the following year’s revenue with the company’s main customer regardless of whether there is a product to sell.

Let Us Play. Sign the petition at www.NFLlockout.com.

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