Making Money in the NFL

William Reed | 10/3/2012, 1:42 p.m.

When Dez Bryant signed his $8.6 million rookie contract with the Cowboys, his teammates stuck him with a $54,896 restaurant bill, because Desmond Demond Bryant is a multi-million dollar moneymaker on a money-making team.

Jerry Jones owns the Dallas Cowboy franchise and signs the checks that Dez receives. Jones has a net worth of $2 billion and owns the Cowboys - America's most valuable team. The team Jones purchased in 1989 is currently worth $1.85 billion and is the top earner in the National Football League [NFL]. The Cowboys' payroll is $151,436,100.

Cowboys Stadium is a gold mine for Jones. Cowboys Stadium is the largest domed stadium in the world. It seats 80,000 and is the second largest stadium in the NFL. The 320 suites and 15,000 club seats at Cowboys Stadium generates a total $115 million in annual revenue. The stadium has the world's largest column-free interior and the second largest high definition video screen, which hangs from 20-yard-line-to-20-yard-line. The facility can also be used for a variety of other activities outside of its primary purpose [professional football] such as concerts, basketball games, boxing matches, college football and high school football contests. Sponsorship revenues total $50 million. The maximum capacity of the stadium, including standing room, is 110,000. The Party Pass [open areas] sections are behind seats in each end zone and on a series of six elevated platforms connected by stairways.

FedEx Field is home field for league sensation, Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins football team. The Redskins gave the 22-year-old African-American quarterback a signing bonus of $13.8 million and salary of $390,000 to fill the 85,000 seats at FedEx Field, the NFL's third largest venue. Of the 97 quarterbacks on the 32 clubs' rosters only 20, or 20.6 percent, are Black.

The NFL is big business. Consumer companies pay big money to have their name, or logo, advertised on the stadium and tickets fans buy. Monies are generated in the form of parking fees and concession stands that sell the hometown teams' gear. If your team is a winner, it gets to be on nationally televised Sunday night games and prime time exposure on Monday night football. All NFL franchise owners are White. It's estimated that the NFL's 32 teams currently generate an annual total of $8.3 billion in revenue. The average NFL team is now worth $1.04 billion.

The NFL teams are comprised of 1,696 players. NFL players get paid every two weeks. Salaries are spread out over a 52-week year. NFL players get paid per game, with their last game check coming two weeks after the season ends. Typically, a player's annual salary doesn't cover what they do with the team before and after the season - they get separate compensation for those activities. Signing and other bonuses can be paid to players as a lump sum or spread out over multiple weeks, depending on the terms of the player's contract. An athlete earns incentive payments, by playing a certain number of games or achieving other goals specified in his contract.

In 1988, Johnny Grier became the first African-American NFL referee. Now, NFL referees make $150,000 a year to work 16 weekends. The average salary for a player in the National Football League is approximately $1.1 million per season. Drew Brees ranks as the NFL's highest-paid player between July 2011 and July 2012 with earnings of $49.4 million thanks to a $37 million signing bonus he got with the New Orleans Saints.

None have gotten above the rank of [employee], but African Americans are a major part of the NFL. The players' union is headed by Blacks. They currently get 59.6 percent of designated league revenues - more than $3.5 billion annually. White players are expected to become a minority in the NFL. Today, recent surveys show that the NFL is approximately 57-61 percent non-White, including African Americans, Polynesians [an astronomically high 1.7 percent of NFL players are American Samoans, non-white Hispanics and Asians].

(William Reed is publisher of Who's Who in Black Corporate America and available for projects via the Bailey Group.org)