Since it began way back on March 11, greed has been central to the NFL lockout. In 2004 when the NHL lost a full season due to a lockout, fans were clearly angry, but over time they understood that their league wasn’t just simply closed. It was closed for renovations, and a better product would return.
NBA fans will likely learn a similar lesson over time if some or all of their 2011-12 season is lost, with basketball also aiming to fix a system that’s broken. But for those waiting to see some sort of normalcy in the NFL, a squabble over riches and revenue sharing in an already abundantly rich sport still reigns supreme.
Money has primarily done the talking and the dividing during the NFL lockout, which is why the release of Forbes’ annual top 50 list showing the most valuable franchises in sports is so painful. While we wait for a delicious $9 billion revenue pie to be divided, we see once again that the pocket books of NFL teams dominate the sports landscape.
For the second year in a row, all 32 teams made the cut, with two in the top five. The $1.81 billion cowboys finished in second, and were edged out by Manchester United, while Dan Snyder and his love of spending and suing landed the Redskins ($1.55 billion) at No. 4.
The Patriots ($1.37 billion), Giants ($1.18 billion), Texans (easily the biggest surprise at $1.17 billion), and Jets ($1.14 billion) rounded out the six NFL teams in the top 10. Ending with the Dolphins at No. 22 and their valuation of $1.01 billion, 16 teams were valued in the billions.
What’s especially discouraging is reading the quick one-liners and nuggets of information Forbes includes for each team. For example, the Redskins have made the playoffs just twice over the past ten years, a stretch in which Snyder’s free agent busting has led to a record of 68-92. And yet still Washington is home to the league’s most profitable team over the last decade, even though Snyder has maintained an average operating income of $76 million. Then there’s the 49ers (No. 29 at $925 million), a team already able to recruit $138 million in seat sales for a new stadium that won’t exist until 2015.
The kicker is those poor little Jaguars though. Being slotted at No. 45 with a value of $725 million and an average attendance (63,032) that ranks in the bottom third of the league may seem poor by juggernaut NFL standards. But it’s not so bad when those “lowly” figures still lead to a franchise that’s valued higher than every NBA and NHL team, and all but five MLB teams.
Yep, those dying owners really need the revenue split up just right.