NFL owners cry poverty all the time, usually when they want a new stadium or new CBA. And because their books are private, there's little (save common sense) to dispute their claims. But the Green Bay Packers are publicly owned, and last week, the Packers released their financials.
If there's one number that tells us the most about the financial health of the league, it's the $187.7 million that the Packers and every other franchise received from the NFL in the 2013-14 fiscal year, the equally disbursed cut of national revenue that adds up to more than $6 billion, mostly from television contracts.
The Packers' numbers for last year, via the Press-Gazette:
National revenue: $187.7 million, 4.3 percent increase
Local revenue: $136.4 million, 6.4 percent increase
Total revenue: $324.1 million, 5.2 percent increase
Total expenses: $298.5 million, 17.6 percent increase
Profit from operations: $25.6 million, 52.9 percent decrease
Net income: $25.3 million, 41.3 percent decrease
It's hard to use Packer-specific numbers to say anything about local revenues for other teams, since Green Bay is definitely not your typical market. Their expenses for 2013 were also abnormally high—they are renovating Lambeau Field, and the timing on various contracts meant the Packers spent $171 million on player costs in a season where their actual payroll was about $118 million.
So you can't project that just because the Packers only cleared a $25.6 million profit last year, many owners must be losing money. They're not. Instead, your takeaway from this ought to be that all those owners received a $187.7 million check just for being NFL owners.