By Guest Blogger Frank P. Jozsa, Jr.,
The National Football League’s 2016 regular-season opens Thursday evening, September 8, when the American Football Conference and Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos host the National Football Conference champion Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. Here are a few current, interesting, and newsworthy things for sports fans to consider about the business, economics, and operations of the league and its teams and their coaches and players.
First, despite playing in Denver, the Panthers will defeat the Broncos in the league’s first game. Besides Carolina’s highly-touted defense led by All-Pro linebackers’ Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player—Carolina quarterback Cam Newton—will complete enough passes to tight end Greg Olson and wide receivers, and also run for yards, especially on third downs, for his team to win the game by at least three points.
Second, after twenty-one years and two conference titles and one Super Bowl championship in five playoff appearances, the Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in early 2016. It will be a tough season for the Rams, however, after an offseason in which they lost some key players on defense and did little to improve their offense immediately. While choosing a quarterback first overall in the draft, that decision is not enough for the club to land its first winning record since 2003 although offering more hope for the future. Given their 2016‒17 schedule and five-year head coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams will finish no better than 8‒8 in the league’s regular-season and third in the NFC’s West Division following the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.
Third, according to financial information published in Forbes magazine in mid-2015, the range in amounts from first to thirty-second for six different accounts of NFL franchises were as follows: market value, Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion) to Buffalo Bills ($1.4 billion); revenue, Dallas Cowboys ($620 million) to Minnesota Vikings ($281 million); operating income, Dallas Cowboys ($270 million) to Atlanta Falcons ($25 million); gate receipts, New England Patriots ($100 million) to Oakland Raiders ($40 million); debt-to-value ratio, Indianapolis Colts (3 percent) to Atlanta Falcons (51 percent); and players expenses, Atlanta Falcons ($187 million) to Carolina Panthers ($137 million). Except for the small-market Bills and Raiders, midsized-market Colts and Falcons, and very- large-market Cowboys, the other teams were in the playoffs.
Fourth, if they relocate soon from the City of Oakland to Las Vegas, the Raiders organization will improve financially because of (a) a favorable ‘honeymoon effect’ that will boost home attendance for one-to-five years, (b) construction of a new, publicly-financed stadium, (c) more population and per capita income growth in the area, and (d) no competition for local and regional sports fans from existing teams in Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. However, an expansion or existing National Hockey League team will locate in Las Vega within one or two years.
Fifth, the New England Patriots should win two or perhaps three of its first four games despite playing without future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Head coach Bill Belichick will design and then use plays on offense and defense that, respectively, limits turnovers and successfully restricts opposing teams from scoring more than a few touchdowns per game.
Sixth, Sporting News picked the AFC’s Steelers to win Super Bowl LI in Houston and bring a seventh Lombardi Trophy to Pittsburgh. While their record of six rings in fifty years evokes memories of the Steel Curtain dynasty, they have done well for themselves in the Ben Roethlisberger era. In a twist, their offense will win them a championship with defense playing a strong but complementary role.
For additional highlights—including tables of data—about NFL teams and their historical performances and recent success as business enterprises, see my new book National Football League Franchises published in August 2016 by Lexington Books.
Frank P. Jozsa, Jr. is a retired professor of economics and business administration from Pfeiffer University.