Lockout'11: Senator calls for open books

Nice! Some heavy hitters are beginning to join the chorus we sounded this month. In an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Post, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia called for NFL owners to open their books to a third party in an effort to build trust between the sides.

Rockefeller: What I'd like to see from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners is a simple display of good faith: Show the union your books. Don't keep secrets. If there are financial pressures that keep you from agreeing to the revenue-sharing plan proposed by the players, let's see the proof. Ask a neutral third party to review your financial data, redact anything sensitive and prepare an unbiased bottom-line assessment of the league's finances.

The issue is relevant in the NFC North because the NFL's only team with open financial books is the publicly owned Green Bay Packers. The Packers showed a $9.8 million profit in the most recent fiscal year calculated, down from $20.1 million the previous year.

It's one thing for some slappy blogger to make the suggestion. But when national politicians start banging the drum, you wonder if the NFL won't start feeling some pressure. A pre-agreement could help avoid the release of sensitive information that owners wouldn't want publicized. It would also rob the union of one of its most effective talking points. Stay tuned.