NEW YORK – NFL employees have had their salaries trimmed by 12 percent since April, and seven teams have instituted pay cuts or furloughs of employees since the owners' lockout of players began in March, The Associated Press has found in interviews around the league.
In all, the number of affected employees who work for either the clubs or the league is likely more than 100. Count Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash, the NFL's lead labor negotiator, among them. Their salaries have been reduced to $1 each while the league's labor impasse is unresolved.
Two teams, Atlanta and San Francisco, would not comment when asked if they made any cuts, citing privacy issues. Information about several other clubs came from people with knowledge of the cuts or furloughs who spoke on condition of anonymity because the moves had not been announced by the team.
"My feeling is I'm interested in good morale around here," Irsay said. "I look at someone who's making $40,000, $50,000 a year, who has rent to pay, and I don't see it for me as an owner to be asking them for anything."
Buffalo has asked for a lot.
The Bills made cuts to all salaried employees in March ranging from 20-25 percent.
"We have made prudent preparations for the possibilities of a work stoppage," Bills CEO Russ Brandon said then. "We have, for some time, been very upfront and transparent with our staff so that they, too, could make prudent preparations. We have built a program that focuses on shared sacrifice. As you move up the organization chart, the sacrifice increases in absolute and percentage terms, as it should.
"We plan no layoffs at this time. Our hope is that our advanced planning will allow us to avoid them in the future as well."
But in May the team also suspended payments into the employees' pension plans for the duration of thelockout.
Detroit employees have taken two-week furloughs, a person familiar with the moves told the AP.
"Any decisions we make, the impact will start with me," said team president Tom Lewand, adding the names of coach Jim Schwartz and general manager Martin Mayhew. "Unfortunately, it is affecting the entire organization, starting with us."
Arizona had a companywide weeklong furlough in May. All the coaches have in their contracts pay reductions in the event of a work stoppage.
The Jets have been requiring their dozens of non-contracted employees to take a one-week unpaid furlough every month since the lockout began. Contracted employees in football operations, including general manager Mike Tannenbaum, coach Rex Ryan and assistant coaches, took 25 percent pay cuts.
Miami GM Jeff Ireland, coach Tony Sparano and his assistant coaches received a pay cut on June 1. In May, the Dolphins cut salaries of support staff by 10 to 20 percent. CEO Mike Dee blamed lagging ticket sales resulting from the lockout.
Across Florida, Tampa Bay closed its offices for a week in May, saying employees would be reimbursed if no regular-season games are lost.
All Kansas City employees, including GM Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley, have taken a pay reduction during the lockout. The extent of the reduction depends on the level of job, with top executives taking the biggest hit. The cuts will be phased in over eight months and will average about 10 percent. If the NFL plays a full season, everybody will be fully reimbursed.
New Orleans has avoided any cuts or furloughs in part because their revenue stream from ticket sales never has been better. They recently charged season ticket-holders for the second half of their amount due, perhaps to maintain enough cash flow to delay resorting to salary reductions. The Louisiana Superdome is sold out again for next season, and because of redesigned and upgraded field level seating, capacity has increased from 70,000 to 73,000. Prices for many of those new seats went up, creating more income for the team.
Oakland has come up with its own way of potentially avoiding cuts: The Raiders implemented a plan that allows employees to keep their full pay if they sell a certain number of season tickets.
"We looked at this from the opposite approach. Let's all work together as an organization, every single department, to increase our ticket revenues," Raiders CEO Amy Trask said.
The Raiders were last in the NFL last year in attendance, averaging just over 46,400 fans per home game. So, to avoid a pay cut, employees must sell season tickets worth 10 percent of their salary during the lockout. The cheapest Raiders season tickets go for $260 per year, with the most expensive non-club seats at $960 annually.
Now will there be games at which to use them?