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Revenue sharing splits up $6 billion in 2013

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A pie filled with cash

Laurence Dutton/Getty Images

Since only the Packers must reveal their books, due to their non-stock stock ownership structure, the Packers’ annual report includes plenty of info both about the franchise and the league.

Darren Rovell of ESPN.com did some backwards math to determine that the $187.7 million received by the Packers in national revenue means that the league divided a whopping $6 billion among the 32 teams from April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014.

That cash comes largely from the national TV contracts with NBC, ESPN, FOX, CBS, and DirecTV. The wireless deal with Verizon also pumps up the number, as does the 34-percent chunk of ticket sales that go to the visiting team in name, but that as a practical matter are pooled for revenue sharing.

The massive shared amount, which exceeds last year’s salary cap of $123 million by more than 50 percent, highlights the ongoing importance of the broadcast antitrust exemption. The federal law, passed decades ago, gives the NFL the ability to negotiate TV deals as a 32-business block, forcing networks that covet broadcasts of significant national interest to also take less attractive games involving less compelling teams.

If that exemption ever goes away, all teams would have to cut their own deals, and a handful of teams would make a killing. Which could make it tempting for some owners to not be all that upset if the exemption ever evaporates.

Still, revenue sharing levels the playing field, ensuring that the NFL won’t be split into a collections of haves and have nots.

Maybe that should be have mores, and have mosts.