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Volume 24 No. 156
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Berthelsen Says NFL Players' Revenue Was Up, Not Down, In First Year Of New CBA

Cash going to NFL players was actually up and not down or flat as has been previously reported, in the first year of the new 10-year NFL labor deal, outgoing NFLPA General Counsel Richard Berthelsen told about 600 lawyers at the Sports Lawyers Association this weekend. Berthelsen said, “This first year when the public perception was that players took salary cuts ... that turned out not to be true at all.” He added, “In 2011, we had our best year since 2006.” Berthelsen filled in for NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith on the sports union panel Saturday at the annual conference in San Diego. Berthelsen noted NFL players received a little less than 55% of the football dollars generated in '11. Historically, NFL players received 52-53% of all football dollars generated. He said the salary cap, including non-salary benefits to players, was set at $142.4M this year, but the amount of actual cash spent on NFL players was $160M. “We call that cash over cap, the amount clubs actively spent over the cap,” he said. The NFLPA held one of its annual seminars for NFL agents at the Sports Lawyers Association, in which it made a presentation to the agents. In the NFLPA’s economic analysis document, a copy of which was obtained by SportsBusiness Journal, the union stated, “Contrary to recent statements by some NFL owners, the claim that player salaries are 'Flat' or are going to remain flat under the new NFL CBA are wrong.” Additionally, the union stated in its documents, “A number of comments have also been made in the media suggesting that the new CBA is not much better than the proposal the owners made to the players in March of 2011 immediately before the lockout. This claim is also flatly wrong.” The document outlines a number of reasons the deal players turned down in March '11 was worse economically for players, including:

* The owners’ proposal called for a fixed salary cap and benefits amounts each year from '11-14, and offered no clear percentage for the players after that, including of the dramatically increased television revenues that were expected to start in '14.
* The owners' proposal in March '11 set a fixed salary cap and benefits amount in '11 of $141M.

FUTURE SHARE UNKNOWN: Berthelsen, in his speech to the Sports Lawyers Association, said it was not known if players would receive more or less than 55% of revenues in future years of the agreement. NFL Senior VP & General Counsel Dennis Curran, who was the moderator of the sports league panel, had no immediate comment on Berthelsen’s or the NFLPA’s statements about the economics of the new labor deal's first year.