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NFL owners should open their books to players

Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews, left, and Aaron Rodgers celebrate after the Packers won the Super Bowl on Feb. 6.
Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews, left, and Aaron Rodgers celebrate after the Packers won the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. (Chris O'meara)

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I had hoped that the competitive environment and obvious high stakes could bring the two sides together. I had hoped that the owners and players could find a way to satisfactorily divide up what amounts to a $9 billion pie.

Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to sort out this stalemate is for the owners and the league to answer the biggest sticking point: money.

What I'd like to see from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners is a simple display of good faith: Show the union your books. Don't keep secrets. If there are financial pressures that keep you from agreeing to the revenue-sharing plan proposed by the players, let's see the proof.

Ask a neutral third party to review your financial data, redact anything sensitive and prepare an unbiased bottom-line assessment of the league's finances.

Certainly, some owners make significant investments while managing a professional sports team and I don't want to play down their long-term expenses and obligations.

But the players deserve a good-faith effort to demonstrate that these expenses are real and not just an excuse.

Taking this simple step would answer the criticism from players that teams are extremely profitable but owners are unwilling to share the bonanza with the players who make it all possible.

The writer, a Democrat from West Virginia, is chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.


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