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December 11, 2022

How Revenue is Spent at the National Football League Players Association

by Anne Paddock

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), a tax-exempt non-profit labor union (a 501 c 5) representing football players in the National Football League (32 teams that can have a maximum of 55 players for a total of 1,760 players although each team can have a 12-member practice squad that can add an additional 384 members for a total estimate of 2,144 active members) although former members (an estimated 8,700) are “former player” members.

A member of the AFL-CIO, the NFLPA is headquartered in Washington, DC and has 32 independent voting members (directors) of its governing board (board of directors).

In 2020, the NFLPA reported total revenue of $233 million (compared to $128 million in 2019) of which $66 million came from players dues. With an estimated 2,144 active members, the average membership dues are $31,000 annually.  However, the largest source of revenue was from the sale of assets (capital gains) and investment income which was $120 million in 2020. Royalties totaled $44 million in 2020.

Expenses totaled $75 million (32% of revenue) and can be classified as follows:

  • $28 million (12% of revenue): Benefits Paid to Members
  • $22 million (9% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $10 million (4% of revenue):  Fees for Services (legal, accounting, lobbying, investment fees, other)
  • $ 7 million (3% of revenue):  Travel
  • $ 6 million (3% of revenue):  Office-Related and Member Service Expenses
  • $ 1 million (less than 1% of revenue):  Advertising and Promotion
  • $ 1 million (less than 1% of revenue):  Other Expenses

As illustrated above, the largest expense is Benefits Paid to Members followed by Compensation.  117 employees received $22 million in compensation making the average compensation $188,000.  However, only 44 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation including the CEO, DeMaurice Smith who received more than $3.5 million in compensation in 2020.

Using the above information, every $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$ 12:  Benefits Paid to Members

-$  9:  Compensation

-$  4:  Fees for Services ((legal, accounting, lobbying, investment fees, other)

-$  3:  Travel

-$  3:  Office-Related and Member Service Expenses

-$  1:  Advertising, Promotion and Other Expenses

-$ 32:  Total Expenses

$ 68:  Unspent Revenue:  Added to General Fund

The AFLPA spent $32 out of every $100 received and allocated $68 out of every $100 to the general fund. At year-end, net assets were $621 million (compared to $454 million the prior year-end).

Finally, it is important to note the NFLPA has five related organizations:

  • NFL Players Association Voluntary Employee Benefit Plan Trust:  a 501 (c) (9) that provides health benefits
  • NFL Players Association One Team PAC:  a 527 Political Action Committee
  • Representing Every Player Worldwide, LLC:  a Delaware licensing partnership with 90% ownership in total assets of $1 million with NFL Players, Inc being the direct controlling entity. Share of income in 2020 was $215,000.
  • Athlete Content and Entertainment:  a Delaware media content partnership with 64% ownership (representing $3.3 million), with NFL Players, Inc. being the direct controlling entity.  Share of income in 2020 was $3.6 million.
  • NFL Players, Inc:  a Virginia-based corporation for licensing with 97.9% ownership by NFLPA (representing $250 million in assets) and $154 million in income in 2020.

In closing, 2020 was a banner year in which the NFLPA reported $233 million in revenue – more than $100 million more than in 2019 – due to investment income and gains (historically, revenue was primarily dues and royalties).  Yet the organization remained relatively consistent in terms of employees (at just over 100) who were compensated $22 million that year. Spending just $75 million of the $234 million reported (with the largest expense reported to be the $28 million in benefits paid to members), the NFLPA added significant revenue to the general fund, ending the year with $621 million in net assets.

To read the IRA Form 990 (2019 for the year ending February 29, 2020), click here.

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