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NFL says it “does not profit” from sale of pink merchandise


With the proliferation of pink throughout the NFL uniforms and sidelines during October, the month that promotes breast cancer awareness, plenty of pink NFL gear is available to be purchased by the paying customers.

In response to an article that claims the NFL is profiting from the sale of the pink merchandise, the league says that no profit is being realized.

“The NFL does not profit from the sale of pink merchandise,” the league office explained in a statement to PFT. “All money the NFL would normally receive from merchandise sales goes to support this program, either through direct funding to [the American Cancer Society] or covering the costs of A Crucial Catch. “

The league says that 100 percent of the net proceeds are devoted to covering the costs of the league’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign or are donated to the American Cancer Society.

The key words are “net proceeds.” On one hand, it’s technically the profit that the league otherwise realizes. On the other hand, it’s a playground for accounting practices that can make the “net proceeds” whatever the league ultimately wants them to be.

Devoting a portion of the “net proceeds” to “covering the costs” of the “A Crucial Catch” campaign provides another opportunity for the bean counters to move the beans around in ways that reach a predetermined bottom line of beans.

The reality is that the sale of pink merchandise generates revenue that pays for the materials and pays the manufacturer and pays the employees involved in the process of making and selling the products and paying for all other costs relating to the creation of the merchandise and whatever is left over is used for donation and/or funding the league’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign, which means that part of the money from the sales helps reimburse the league for expenses arising from the campaign. Without access to the accounting documents and an accountant who can figure it all out, it’s impossible to tell whether and to what extent what otherwise would be “profit” is masquerading as “expense.”

The numbers the league has provided are that, since 2009, the sale of pink merchandise has raised more than $3 million for the American Cancer Society. That’s roughly $750,000 per year. Or roughly $23,500 per team.

For a league that generates billions of dollars in revenue every year, that’s not a very big number.

Still, it’s very good that the league is promoting breast cancer awareness, especially as it relates to the urging of women over the age of 40 to be regularly screened for the disease. And folks who buy and wear the pink gear will be helping to perpetuate that message. But buying pink merchandise doesn’t appear to be a vehicle for devoting significant funds, in the grand scheme of things, to breast cancer research or the other objectives of the American Cancer Society.