Total Pay at NFLPA Swells by 58 Percent!
By DANIEL KAPLAN
Staff writer – Sports Business Journal
Published February 18, 2008 : Page 01
Compensation at the NFL Players Association rose 58 percent in the 2007 fiscal year to more than $17 million, the group’s most recent tax return shows.
Some of that increase includes the previously disclosed doubling of Executive Director Gene Upshaw’s take, but pay to the union’s 93 other mployees during that year rose 41 percent as well, according to the return.
Upshaw said that a number of key executives left the union in the past several years, and they were entitled to take their retirement benefits upon their departure. And he added his pay reflected bonuses that he earned as far back as 2002. The departure of several key executives in recent years helped drive up the figures, Executive Director Gene Upshaw said.
The disclosure comes at a time when the union has been under heavy criticism for not doing enough about retired players with disability and other needs, so predictably, the compensation figures drew fire.
“It is excessive, it is greed,” said Dave Pear, who retired in 1981 and said he has been turned down for disability several times despite severe injuries and frequent calls to the union. “It would be wiser to spend that money to hire someone who would pick up the phone.” Of the three major sports unions that file public tax returns (the NHL Players Association is based in Canada), the NFLPA’s pay is the highest, though it also manages by far the largest business.
The NFLPA’s licensing and merchandising arm, NFL Players (formerly Players Inc.), saw revenue rise to $95 million in the 12 months ended Feb. 28, 2007, compared to $75 million in the year-earlier period, according to the return, which the union filed with the Internal Revenue Service last month. The NFLPA’s revenue was $59 million, up from $54 million the year before, the return showed. It’s not clear, however, if there is overlap between the two figures because the $59 million figure includes $29 million of licensing revenue, which is presumably also factored into the NFL Players number.
By contrast, the MLB Players Association reported revenue of $39 million in 2005 and a headcount of 39. The group¹s spokesman could not be reached to get a more recent return. According to the 2005 return, MLBPA employees received compensation of $6.7 million.
At the National Basketball Players Association, total compensation hit $4.3 million off $14 million of revenue in the 12 months ending June 30, 2006, according to the most-recent tax return available. The basketball union,
which employed 26 people in that 12-month period, receives a fee from the NBA in return for allowing the league to handle the licensing of player images.
The unions also are required to file annual reports with the U.S. Department of Labor, and it is from these reports that Upshaw’s pay became public. Last year’s report placed his compensation at $6.7 million, though the tax return filed last month placed it at just over $6.4 million. The two documents, which cover the same period, use different accounting methods.
Indeed, the union’s assets, an important figure given the heated words being exchanged between the players and the owners, are different in the two documents. According to the Labor Department annual report, assets stood at$ 264 million as of Feb. 28, 2007, while the tax return pegged assets at $185 million. A separate listing for NFL Players in the tax return showed assets of $140 million.
* For years ended Feb. 28
** Executive director amounts include payments from the NFLPA’s licensing and merchandise unit