Green Bay Packers say missing playoffs hurt bottom line
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers' profit fell by nearly 50 percent in the last fiscal year as the team missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
President and CEO Mark Murphy said the outlook for the Packers remains strong as the NFL's only publicly owned team released its 2018 financial statement on Monday. The Packers announced a profit from operations of $34.1 million, a steep decline from $65.4 million a year earlier. Expenses soared 11.9 percent, from $376.1 million to $420.9 million, a byproduct of player salaries, coaching changes and travel costs. Revenue increased just 3.1 percent from $441.4 million to $454.9 million.
"The NFL continues to be very popular nationally," Murphy said. "There's been a lot talked about with ratings that have gone down, but, really, relative to ratings overall, the league remains very strong. The fan interest and support remain strong for both the league and us. Our strong, stable financial position has allowed us to invest in the team through contracts for players and coaches, our facility, the stadium, the fan experience and community, and making sure the franchise stays strong for the future."
Revenue from national sources rose by 4.9 percent, due to built-in increases in the national TV package. Local revenue grew by a scant 0.8 percent. A 7-9 record - the team's first losing season since 2008 - hurt the bottom line.
"This is the first year since 2008 that we were not in the playoffs, and I think that had an impact on us," Murphy said. "We didn't have a home playoff game and some of our visitation numbers were down a little bit. We don't see that as a negative trend."
The Packers made several big changes during the offseason. Murphy picked Brian Gutekunst to replace longtime general manager Ted Thompson, and coach Mike McCarthy replaced defensive coordinator Dom Capers with Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett with Joe Philbin.
Plus, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be back after missing half of last season with a broken collarbone. Murphy said he senses a renewed level of enthusiasm from fans, with the team kicking off its 100th season with the start of training camp on July 26.
"Certainly, having Aaron healthy is a part of that, but I think some of the changes we've made coaching staff as well as the draft and players we've added, I think people are excited for the season," Murphy said. "You add on top of that the 100 seasons, it should, knock on wood, be a good year."
Rodgers, who is under contract through the 2019 season, told NBC Sports over the weekend there is "some merit" in working out a "nontraditional contractual agreement." Murphy wouldn't get into specifics but said: "Obviously, he's an important player. He wants to be here and want him to be here. When both sides have a common interest, you get deals done."
In May, league owners agreed to a policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field for the national anthem but allows them to stay in the locker room if they prefer. The NFL Players Association last week filed a grievance against the league for imposing a policy that is "inconsistent" with the collective bargaining agreement and "infringes" on player rights. Murphy said he was hopeful of a resolution.
"I've had a lot of conversations with our players," he said. "We really want to put the focus on the underlying issues and we realize our players are patriotic, they don't disrespect the flag, they don't disrespect the country. We're really looking at the underlying issues of racial discrimination, police brutality. We've had discussions with players about putting resources toward some of the causes."
Murphy said he also hopes the CBA, which will expire after the 2020 season, can be extended. He said the NFL doesn't have the guaranteed money seen in NBA contracts, though "over the last 10 years or so, a higher percentage of the players' money is guaranteed."
"To me, the best thing about our collective bargaining agreement is the rookie pay is under control. We've got a system in place that I think is working well. More of the money is going to the veterans, who deserve it and have earned it. There were times under the old agreement that the highest paid players in the league were rookies at their positions, which was crazy."