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{ In a letter to sports editors nationwide, the NFLPA's George Atallah sets the record straight on the revenue breakdown. }
Author: George Atallah, NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs Posted: 12/16/2010

To the Editors:

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL players and owners that was signed in 2006 expires March 3, 2011. In May 2008, owners opted out of the agreement early. While negotiations between the NFL players and owners continue, the actions taken by the NFL and its owners signal an employer-imposed lockout. The players want to play a full and complete NFL season in 2011 and have asked the owners to extend the deal in an effort to work out a new deal without an interruption of NFL operations.

It has been widely reported that the owners have asked for an 18 percent reduction in the players’ portion of revenue. While the justification for this rollback remains in serious question, the purpose of this letter is to set the record straight on the revenue breakdown between players and owners. Currently, the phrase most frequently used to describe the division is, “Players get 60 percent of revenues.” This is not an accurate depiction.

On behalf of the NFL players, I am asking you to adjust the terms used in referring to this subject in your reporting based on the facts provided in this letter and the attached supporting document. There are two terms that you may have heard, but are distinct and not synonymous: all revenue and total revenue. ALL revenue refers to all the revenues generated by the NFL and its operations. “Total Revenue” is a CBA term that refers to all of the monies that are left after the owners receive an expense credit, which have exceeded $1 billion in each of the past two years. The correct characterization of the revenue breakdown is as follows:

Players receive approximately 50 percent of ALL revenues in the NFL. Or, Players receive less than 60 percent of “Total Revenue” after the owners take expense credits off the top.

For the past two years, the expense credits the owners have received exceeded $1 billion. To provide a factual basis for this representation, below are the agreed upon percentages since 2000:

Players’ Percentage of All Revenues since 2000:











Players’ Percentage of “Total Revenue” since 2000:











To provide an alternate explanation, the revenue model in the NFL can be defined by this simple formula:

All Revenue minus NFL & Owner Expense Credits equals “Total Revenue”

“Total Revenue” is a term of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, not a term of accounting. “Total Revenue” is not equal to the entirety of the revenue (all) generated from the league, but is the remainder of money after the owners receive a number of expense credits. I have attached a sample list of expense credits that the NFL and NFL owners are eligible to receive under the terms of the 2006 CBA.

The media plays an important role in providing millions of NFL fans information on America’s most popular sport. NFL players are paying attention to how these negotiations are being covered and I am writing on their behalf to ensure their business is covered fairly and accurately. As reporting of these negotiations becomes more intense, accuracy and fairness will be vital to informing the millions of fans that have concerns about having a complete NFL season in 2011.

Thank you for reviewing this information. I invite you to visit www.nflplayers.com/lockout to seek out more facts and figures related to this CBA negotiation. Please feel free to reach out to me with any additional questions or for clarification at any time.


George Atallah

Assistant Executive Director

External Affairs

Click here to read more information on Expense Credits from the 2006 CBA.

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