While New England leads Buffalo, 10-3 in the second quarter of a collision between two 5-3 teams, Pats LB / player rep Mike Vrabel tells the Boston Herald’s Plagiarizing Battlin’ Ron Borges he’s frustrated with the lack of financial transparency on the part of the league’s owners.

œIt™s like Chris Rock says, Vrabel joked Friday. œYou think Shaq is rich? What about the guy who pays Shaq?

Before his death last summer, longtime NFLPA head Gene Upshaw asked commissioner Roger Goodell for audited financial reports to document the owners™ claims of deepening economic problems. Instead, he got a unanimous vote to opt out of the CBA four years early and an e-mail from Goodell saying there were three reasons why: 1) high labor costs; 2) problems with the rookie pool and exorbitant payments to unproven players; and 3) the legal inability to recoup signing bonuses from players who breach contracts or refuse to perform.

The real issue, though, isn™t rookie salaries, which frankly they don™t have to pay if they don™t want to. The real issue is the owners™ growing anger over the 60 percent of gross revenues now paid out in player costs. This year the NFL estimates that amount at $4.5 billion.

œHow bad are their books? Vrabel asked. œThey can cut a guy (Oakland™s DeAngelo Hall) eight games after they sign him for $70 million. They can offer Brett Favre $10 million a season for 10 years not to play for the Packers. Come on.”

œWe ask to see their books and they won™t open them. It™s tough to form a partnership with someone who won™t show us his books. These franchises are worth billions. You open USA Today and they got every player™s salary listed. We have to go to Forbes Magazine to try and guess what the teams are worth.

The owners clearly hope to cut back that 60 percent payout, claiming the size of the pie has expanded to include all league revenue and that players can afford to have their end decrease and still come out ahead. Goodell insists, œThe agreement isn™t working. We™re looking to get a more fair and equitable deal.