Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Announces New Revenue-Sharing Plan, Schumer Involved

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has issued a memo outlining the league’s new revenue sharing plan aimed at ensuring small-market franchises like the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers remain competitive.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed Goodell distributed the memo to the league’s 32 teams Monday. Aiello noted the memo is significant because it formally establishes the revenue-sharing program in writing. The league already shares certain revenues, but this new system would allow small-market teams to draw money from what’s called a supplemental pool funded mostly by top revenue-generating clubs.

Until the actual plan is announced, I’ll not get too excited one way or the other. On balance though, even though I’m a free market guy and a fan of one of a team (the Dallas Cowboys) that would benefit from a free-for-all system, I’m generally in favor of the NFL’s sharing of television, merchandising, and other revenues to ensure competitive balance.

What puzzles me about the story, however, is that the United States Senate is getting involved.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer has joined [Buffalo Bills owner Ralph] Wilson in his campaign and spent the past six months pressuring the NFL to implement a fair revenue-sharing program. Schumer, who shared the podium with Wilson during Tuesday’s news conference, referred to Goodell’s memo as progress.

“When the new CBA came into effect, we were really worried that either revenue sharing would go by the boards or it would be done in such a half-baked way that small-market teams couldn’t survive,” Schumer said. “The commissioner, in his statements yesterday and the initial readings we get, understands … there needs to be real revenue sharing and not just crumbs.”

Schumer announced plans to form a coalition of fellow senators, representing small-market NFL teams, to ensure their franchises remain viable.

How, exactly, is this a job for the Congress? Granting that the NFL is engaged in a form of interstate commerce, it’s rather difficult to argue that how its internal revenues are distributed has any serious national implications. And the NFL’s system is a hell of a lot more small market friendly than that of Major League Baseball.

Indeed, Shumer should investigate the New York Yankees and New York Mets, which are outspending virtually every team in the Majors by a factor of 3 to 1. Somehow, I don’t see that happening.


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