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Rash of Firings Around the NFL

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Rash of Firings Around the NFL

I'd like to echo Mike Florio and Peter King about the spate of layoffs happening around the NFL recently, and about the 20 people laid off from the Panthers in particular. To quote King:

I think I know these two things don't go hand-in-hand, but the Carolina Panthers just laid off 20 employees. Let's say in salary and benefits, that's an annual savings of $1 million, or $50,000 per employee. You're telling me in a week you commit $60 million to Jordan Gross for six years, and $16.5 million for one year to Julius Peppers, that you've got to whack 20 employees? I don't like this one bit, and the Panthers are not the only team to do this, obviously. The NFL is a profitable venture, and in times of economic stress, teams need to show loyalty to the people who've worked hard for them -- people not at the top of the salary foodchain.

I couldn't agree more. I understand the current economic climate and the need to run a fiscally tight ship, but it's pretty clear the Panthers and a lot of other NFL teams are using the economic crisis as cover to realign their workforce and/or to cut expenses. That's all well and good, and perhaps these cuts are to legitimately under-performing parts of the teams' businesses. But this reeks of mega-billionaire owners who are being unbelieveable misers by cutting people loose at the worst possible time.

For the record, a quick call to the Packers' Director of Public Relations Jeff Blumb confirms that the organization has not, as of yet, done anything along these lines, which is welcome news. I think it goes without saying how poorly this type of action would be percieved by Packer fans in general and by shareholders in particular if their friends and neighbors started being fired en-masse from a team they own. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

John Kim's picture

I think athletes salary should rise and fall with the economy. Plus you think the world would end if their were no professional sports. I'd still play basketball. I wouldn't need to watch kobe bryant to enjoy playing basketball. So over hyped.

Ron La Canne's picture

John, Understand your frustration. However, even in bad economic times entertainment, which the NFL is, will be recession proof only to some extent. As the cost for the "Talent" goes up and revenues don't follow on a one to one basis, reductions must come from somewhere else. Usually, staff positions that are not directly aligned with the team operations. In Carolina's case, their owner doesn't want to lose too much. He is anticipating reduced revenue and he has spent a lot to maintain his team's quality. It isn't an evil plot by owners, it's economic reality.

Green Bay is no different than the traditional owner teams in dealing with the impact of economic conditions. Actually, they may be more sensitive than the owner operated teams. There are some owners who don't care what they lose on their teams in the short run and will absorb the losses. If the Packers feel the revenue will be short, look for some actions to control non-team expenses. They, like any other team, can't cut the Talent without risking the quality of their product. If you look at GB's statements it seems that many of the non-football jobs are related to revenue generating positions at Lambeau. If the people come to the games and practices, they should be ok.

Kramer64's picture

I would love to say that this is the beginning of the end of pro football. Sorry, but that's just the way I'm rolling right now. Who the hell is going to be able to pay for tickets anymore?

jerseypackfan's picture

I also have heard about the NFL layoffs. Makes me sick to my stomach. There is not a soul in the NFL that deserves or ever deserved the amount being paid to them.

It all started with A-Fraud`s contract in baseball and trickled to other sports.
I cant wait for the FA signings to prove this. Again it started with the Raiders signings the other day!!

If this country does not improve I can see a lot of empty seats in the rest of the stadiums this season. I do not think the Packers will suffer much. We as fans have always kept this team alive and will continue to do so through thick and thin. Its in our blood.

Just like the old saying goes..
God, Family and The Green Bay Packers right?

Keith's picture

What players are paid has nothing to do with whether or not they intrinsically "deserve" their massive salaries, it's just economics. They have skills and talents that are not easily replaceable.

However, with that said, although I do not have access to any NFL team's books, I doubt any of them are in the red... yet.

I am going to have to side with Aaron here. NFL teams do not have the excuse that much of corporate America has when it comes to laying people off. They do not have to answer to shareholders who may get pissed off when there isn't a dividend check in the mail. So while operating under the assumption that teams aren't losing money yet, I think owners should be sucking it up and doing the best they can to keep as many of their employees on employed as possible. If the Panthers' profit margin suffers as a result, I think their owner is in a better position to bear the burden of this poor economy than the 20 employees he laid off. No one is asking their owner to operate a charity; the point that is being made is that he should survive if the Panthers are a bit less profitable in 2009.

I just want to reiterate that I am operating based on the assumption that NFL teams are profitable (and I believe it is a pretty darn safe assumption.) With this assumption in mind, I don't think it is right for teams to lay off employees to maintain a pre-set profit margin. If these layoffs were truly made to keep the Panthers out of the red, then I take back my criticism. However, in my personal opinion, I do not believe laying off 20 people is what pushes the Panthers from unprofitable to profitable.

Cheddar's picture

Ok….first and foremost, the GBP, like all NFL teams are in business to make a profit. That being said, the Pack should have a friggin fire sale, on non-football personnel. So if that means that and accountant, legal staff, etc…are tossed, its business, not a happy football family.

The GPB’s books showed a minimal profit in the last fiscal year, which, by chance, corresponded with the monies they had remaining under the salary cap. Now here is a scary thought? Huge debt load for the stadium renovation…a break even operation…a propensity to under-spend on players salaries…and the specter of a salary ‘capless’ collective bargaining agreement with the players union. Seems like all the pennies will be needed in the not too distant future…

So Jersey is right…its economics that accounts for NFL teams paying market price for the limited supply of NFL talent, but only half right on why teams must stay profitable…they need to stay profitable to be competitive, and marketable to their fans. Now marketability, and staying relevant to your fans, is a bit of an anomaly for the GBP, but look at teams like the Falcons or even the Vikes who practically have to give tickets away to fill their stadiums.

Andrew n Atlanta's picture

I agree with Aaron's post. But to the issue of what a player is worth, it all comes down to what the market will bear. I'm all for football players maximizing their incomes while they have their health (see my posts on Ryan Grant). And yes, it is entertainment, and no, they are not "worth" the money any more than movie stars are worth the money. It's simply what the market will bear.
Having said all that, the larger issue is pro sports salary escalation has priced the average fan out of game attendance. This is not embellishment. I attended probably 10 MLB baseball games per year in my youth but that diminished as my family could not keep up with the rising costs. That happened to many people but the revenues kept coming...from corporate buyers. I often wonder what percent of revenues (not seats but revenues) come from corporations as opposed to the average Joe in professional sports. I'll bet it's quite high. The player salaries are sunk, and if corporations are cutting back entertainment expenses (like suites and game tickets), and the average fan can't make up that revenue (and they can't), then low-mid level jobs get cut. It's not right and I hate it, but that is what has happened in professional sports.
This is a real hot button for me but I'll spare everyone my soapbox rant. In short, I'm not quite as pessimistic as Kramer64, but the NFL really needs to take a look at MLB and what "could" happen when you don't mind the store. MLB was the national pastime. Not even close anymore. David Stern was a God 10 years ago in the NBA. I can't even name the current roster on the Knicks (my team since youth) and I can't remember the last time I saw an NBA game. The NFL has different issues than MLB and NBA, but the point is things can get away from you when you can't see past your nose. The economic crisis is today. The potential elimination of the CBA is right around the corner. I just hope the NFL and team owners are paying attention. The news from Carolina tells me they probably are not.

Keith's picture

I know baseball has it's issues, but I also think there are social/cultural reasons why the NFL has surpassed MLB. We live in an instant gratification society where people now have the attention of a freaking gadfly. You have no idea how many of my friends hate baseball because they think it is "boring."

Andrew, I would actually counter that the shift in prices has actually HELPED the NFL rise to prominence. Sure, most teams sell out their games, but that's because there are only 8 home games. NFL Sundays at the stadium are more of an event than about the game, IMO. I personally think NFL games are incredibly boring and will only go to 1 or 2 a season to spend a day with my boys tailgating. Plus, who can afford NFL season tickets? It's not like they're cheap (then again, my only point of reference is the Jets and Giants.) Anyway, my point is that the NFL is the better TV game, and with families prices out of stadiums, the NFL wins.

I fell in love with baseball because my dad took me to my first game when I was 3 years old (and I actually remember it) and I have gone to at least one game every year since. Once I started earning my own money, I would go to Shea for about 10-15 games a year (probably more, to be honest), but I would sit in the upper deck for like 10-20 bucks a ticket (depending on the opponent.) Now, with Citifield opening, I'll be lucky if I get to two games this year (however, this is also due to me being in my 2nd year of law school, so funds are a bit tight.) But even when I graduate, I doubt I'll be going to 10-15 games a year right out of school. However, MLB doesn't have to worry about me, because I'll watch almost every Mets game on TV because I am already a baseball nut. The problem baseball is going to have is with my children and their friends.

Andrew n Atlanta's picture

Keith, you're right that the NFL is a better TV game. Can't agree with you on those games being boring tho. I just think your loyalty/intensity as an NFL fan increases if you can do a live game or two each year and "experience" the tailgating, etc. And you're right - MLB will loose the next generation because of some of their stupidity. That's a shame
Anyway, promised I would not get on my soapbox. Just wanted to point out that when you're on top sometimes you think you can't be beat (like MLB and NBA). I've experienced it personally in business. It's dangerous thinking

Keith's picture

Maybe boring was a bit of hyperbole, but I find myself being less engrossed in the action. When I go to a baseball game I hardly take my eyes off the field. I like to keep score, so I rarely leave my seat either. Of course, this could just be me.

You're definitely right about the mindset of being on top. However, I think in all this we should also point out that Goodell is taking a 20% paycut. I find this really impressive and I think all CEOs could learn a lesson from Mr. Goodell.

Cheezer's picture

This just released from the office of Roger Goodell: "Due to the dire economic times and in an effort to maintain the employment of as many people as we can, every salary in the NFL for Coaches and Players has been cut by 10%. We feel that this action will allow us to maintain the employment of as many office staff and other team personnel as we can."

Ron La Canne's picture

Cheezer,

I fell off my chair!

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