Competitive Balance In The Game Of InchesCompetitive Balance In The Game Of Inches: The Driving Force Behind The NFL Christopher Ostrow SPG 502 Thesis St. Johns University Professor Gerstner November 18th, 2011
2Introduction The purpose of my study is to show how the NFL‟s commitment to achievingcompetitive balance is the driving force behind its success. In my study I intend to prove whatmakes the NFL the most profitable of the four American professional sports leagues iscompetitive balance. I intend to show all the steps the NFL takes to achieve competitive balance.Ultimately I am going to prove how competitive balance is the key factor in making the NFL themost successful of the four major professional sports leagues. Success is measured by many different components. Opinions on success may vary fromperson to person. In my opinion, success is measured by the amount of revenue a team, afranchise, and an owner generate. The National Football League produces the most revenue outof all the four professional sports leagues, and I will prove that is success is a direct result ofcompetitive balance. A league with good competitive balance occurs when teams are of equal strength to oneanother. With competitive balance the outcome of the games are often unpredictable. A leaguethat has undesirable or poor competitive balance is a league that has the same playoffcontender‟s each year. Poor competitive balanced leagues are frequently dominated bydynasties. Other professional sports leagues have been said to be predictable due to anunbalanced distribution of strength, power, and economic assets. If you were to interview any of the commissioners of the four professional sports leaguesin the United States they would tell you it is theredream to have all teams with the sameopportunity to win each game. With more teams in the playoff race at the end of the season,more tickets will be sold and more attention from the media and fans will be given to that sport.In my study I plan to prove that the separation between all NFL teams statistically are not as far
3off as many may believe. In the words of Bert Bell former NFL commissioner “If the fans knewthe outcome of the game before kickoff, it‟sgoing to be rather difficult to fill the stadium.” (Yost,2006). This is key to the NFLs being the most successful league both on and off the field.Abstract Competitive balance in sports is the measurement of the equality of play between teams.The principle of competitive balance is that prior to the start of the contest fans has less of a pre-conceived notion of who is going to win. While fans of teams want their teams to always win thedanger of losing is always looming when the competition is on equal footing. CompetitiveBalance in sports is important because it garners fan interest, media coverage, and creates forcompelling television. This all equals revenue, which I have found to be the key ingredientbehind the NFLs successful business model. One that I am going to prove has been based offcompetitive balance over the past 70 years. My research has determined that the NFLs draft, free agency model, schedule creationprocess, revenue sharing, playoff structure, standings, rules, financial results are all based oncompetitive balance both on and off the field. This research is important since the NFL is themost successful professional sports league in America and uncovering what makes it the mostsuccessful league is key for members of the sports management field. My investigation wastaken by research of teams who qualified for the playoffs; super bowl participants teamfinancials, and gaining a true understanding of how the NFLs business structure works.
4Context A- Research Methods B- Free Agency and the Salary Cap, page C- Competition, page D- The NFL Draft, page E- The Playoffs and The Super Bowl, page F- Super Bowl Results & Attendance, page G- Playoff Participants, page H- Schedule, page I- Competitive Balance in the NFL, page J- Coaching Philosophies, page K- Rules and Regulations, page L- Financials: Teams Valuation: Revenue, Operating Income, and Value page M- Financials: Revenue- Shared and Unshared, page N- Financials: Television, page O- The Impact of Fantasy Football P- Empirical Results: Competitive Balance Survey, page Q- Interview: Ernie Palladino (Beat Writer New York Giants) Page R- Interview: Jamey Eisenberg (CBS Sports) Page S- Interview: Matthew Gulino (Staten Island Yankees) Page T- Conclusion, page U- Limitations, page V- Future Considerations, page
5 W- References, pageResearch Methods I have collected the following information for my study through research from books,Internet articles, academic journals, newspapers, surveys, and interviews from members of thesports industry. I felt that this would be the best way to reach my conclusion that the reason whythe National Football League is so successful is competitive balance.Literature ReviewFree Agency and the Salary Cap “Originally, the NFL used the „reserve system‟ that was created by Major LeagueBaseball. Under this system, once a player‟s contract expired, he could renegotiate with the teamthat owned his contract. If the player did not work out a new deal but wanted to play, his teamcould renew his old contract with up to a 10% pay cut. Otherwise, the player was put on the„reserve list,‟ and no other teams were allowed to negotiate with him. The only other option fora player at that point was to retire, be traded or hope to be cut and hope he could land withanother team.” (Mac, 2007) In 1947, the league adopted a one-year option rule, which allowed teams to automaticallyrenew a player‟s contract after the duration of the season. This was a small example of how theleagues archaic free agency period began. This one-year option rule was a clause that trappedplayers, as this was a way for owners to indefinitely renew their player‟s contracts.
6 In 1963, the commissioner of the NFL Pete Rozelle,introduced The Rozelle Rule whichwould compensate a franchise who had lost a free agent in the offseason. If the team and theplayer could not agree to terms of the contract Rozelle had the absolute final ruling oncompensation. Pete Rozelle watched as the Cleveland Browns dominated the AAFC. As adirect result attendance went down drastically for Browns home games. When fans know theexpected outcome of the game they don‟t feel the need to come to the games. This hurts thefranchise, the league, and decreases the revenue of the owner. Rozelle realized this couldn‟thappen in the NFL, and competitive balance was needed. During its fourteen-year period few players and clubs have actually went through withthe Rozelle Rule. In 1976, the player‟s union won a court decision that found that the RozelleRule was an unfair restriction on trade. In 1993, the owners granted the players free agency inexchange for a salary cap. The NFL‟s free agency system was set up with the idea to optimize competitive balance.In 2011‟s NFL lockout mediations, it was Collectively Bargained that a salary cap floor wouldbe added to the salary cap. A salary cap floor is a minimal amount of money a team could spend.A team is allocated $120 million and they must spend at least $ 108 million dollars, which is 90percent of the salary cap."(Beekers, 2011)" The salary cap is an important factor in my point to prove that the NFL wants to achievecompetitive balance. Not all portions of NFL player‟s contracts are guaranteed. Unlike otherprofessional sports such as the NBA, MLB, or the NHL if a player is cut a team, the team doesn‟thave to pay his whole portion of his contract. Thus, if a player is injured or aging a team isn‟tforced to keep him on the payroll. Often times in other sports leagues, franchises are forced toretain players contract for several years after the player has declined. In the same aspect when a
7team is very talented there is only so much money to go around to every player a team develops.At a certain point a general manager in the NFL is going to have to make a decision over whostays and who walks. The NFL salary cap is put in place to prevent dynasties and wealthyowners from signing all the top talent around the league. A team that finishes with a 6-10 record could just be a few players away from making theplayoffs, so free agent pickups are a very important aspect to building a championship team.Players sign with teams for a variety of different reasons. Usually players choose the highestbidder, on the other hand players may choose a team for chances to win a title, family comfort,hometown, or outside market interests. Free agency is unpredictable and just because an NFLteam may win the top free agents on the market doesn‟t guarantee that they are going to win theSuper Bowl. Agents play a key role in todays NFL trying to find the best contract for the players thatthey represent.Agents go over a lengthy negotiation process with franchises and work ondifferent contract possibilities for their clients. Some contractsare frontloaded, where the playerwill receive his money up front. Often franchises will give players most of their money upfrontso they can later cut him and not take as big of a salary cap hit. Other times players willnegotiate back loaded contracts where they would receive their money at the end of theircontracts. This is a strategy teams take when they have a lot of talented players they are trying tosqueeze under the NFL salary‟s cap. Contracts can also be evenly distributed with differentsigning bonuses, or player incentives such as pro bowl appearances, or milestones such as 1,000rushing yards in a season. One such way a team can prevent losing its key free agents is the franchise tag or thetransition tag. “When an “exclusive” franchise player is signed he does not have the eligibility to
8sign with another team. He is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at theplayer‟s positions. If a player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of lastseason at his position and can negotiate with other clubs he is deemed “non exclusive”. Theplayers original club can match a new club‟s offer, or receive two first round draft choices if itdecides not to match. A transition player has received a minimum offer of the average of the top10 salaries of last season at the player‟s positions. If a transition player is offered a contract byanother team, the team that designates him as a transition player has seven days to match anyoffer sheet given to the player after his contract expires.” By allowing teams one franchise tag and one transitional tag player per roster is anotherway the NFL uses free agency to promote competitive balance. Franchises who have hadsuccess will eventually lose their free agents after four seasons. According to NFL.com “Afterthree, four, or five years of service, a professional football player automatically becomes anunrestricted free agent.”(Adler, 2011) (Jorzsa, 2010)Undrafted rookie free agents can also try and latch on to a team. Undraftedfree agents can sign to a team in hopes of making the practice squad. In many cases in the past,players that were unknowns have become success stories, such as future hall of famer KurtWarner‟s or LaGarrette Blount last season. Professional football is both physically demandingmentally and physically so the turn over of players from week to week is significantly noticeable.A shrewd scouting system can be an important step to success, as the Green Bay Packers werehanded a devastating amount of injuries in 2010. Those same Packers went on to win the SuperBowl with a winning philosophy, which started with the scouting department hitting on lateround draft picks and undrafted free agents.
9 Some academics feel that free agency and a salary cap have not increased competitivebalance. According to the author“Using the GINI index which is used to measure competitivebalance in the NFL, the data collected from 1973 through 2003 showed neither an improvementin competitive balance or time nor a discernible change in competitive balance after the NFLinstituted a salary cap before the start of the 1994 season.” (Barriger, 2004) I disagree with this author‟s conclusion because the Gini Index is just measuring teamswealth in terms of wins and loses but the results go beyond that. The game of football is a gameof inches, balance, coaching, luck, and surviving injuries. One injury to Peyton Manning canruin a franchises chance of competing for a playoff berth. Another critique I have with thisstudyis that it takes place from 1973-2003;the salary cap was only introduced in 1994 so theresults of the study are thrown off. The author should have done the study from 1994 to 2003 orcompare the two results to deduct a superior conclusion. The author could have also comparedboth pre and post salary cap results to draw a better conclusion. The author does make mention that the NFL does adjustments to schedules from year toyear to give teams a better chance to win. This statement is incorrect because the NFL schedulesare set up in advance for every three years. The only games that are added to the schedule aretwo games that are based on a football clubs previous placement in standings. In his research hefails to mention that from 1993 to 2003 when a salary cap was introduced the Gini Index clearlyshows that competitive balance is maintained over the ten-year period. From 1973 through 2003there may be some points where competitive balance is lower but in many of those seasonsexpansion teams are introduced. When expansion teams are introduced competitive balanced is thrown off because therosters of those teams are weaker then the competition that they are facing. While the NFL gives
10expansion teams the opportunity to secure the first overall pick in the NFL draft it simply hasn‟tbeen enough to produce a competitive team in its first year of competition.Competition The NFL is operating as a monopolistic organization at the highest level of professionalfootball competition. Not having any direct rival leaguesallows to keep the demand and price offootball players contracts lowered. This is a beneficial factor that the NFL has over the otherthree professional sports leagues. If there is no other league that can bid as high as franchises inthe NFL, it will attract the top talent from across the country. The NFL has an advantage over the MLB for several reasons when it comes to signingand drafting players. Scouts have the difficult job of projecting how high school players willperform. When it comes to drafting they also have to project how college players will hit withouta metal bat. International players can also be a difficult to gauge since the dimensions ofstadiums they are playing on are smaller. Not to mention these players are playing inferiorcompetition.It‟s really a guessing game between the best of the business on how internationalplayers can hit major league pitching and can they get major league baseball players out. Ofcourse one of the main differences between the NFL and the MLB is salary cap. Major LeagueBaseball is the only professional sport to not have a salary cap in place. The MLB has created aluxury tax, which sets a limit of the amount of money a team can spend without paying a penalty.When it comes to money, Major League Baseball is filled with teams that are haves and have-not‟s. Thus more often times than not, small market teams stars are gobbled up by large marketteams.
11 The NFL also has a huge advantage over the NBA when it comes to competitive balance.The NBA has the smallest rosters out of any professional sport and it only takes 1 player tosignificantly improve a teams fortunes. When LeBron James was drafted to the Cleveland Cavswith the first overall pick in 2003, they instantly became one of the best teams in the EasternConference. The NBAs draft is similar to the MLBs as both are based off of projected talent.NCAA Athletes only need to have one year of playing eligibility to qualify for the NBA draft.As the game of basketball has grown in popularity overseas, the amount of foreign players toenter the NBA has increased. It also can be scene in foreign competition such as the Olympicswhere the USA has faced some of its most difficult challenges. When drafting or acquiringforeign players it isn‟t always a guarantee the player will ever suit up for your favorite team.Professional Basketball leagues are sprouting up all across the globe so mid level players arecashing in and taking their talents overseas. According to Mark Jorzsa the NFL wasn‟t always the only house on the block forprofessional football. Some of the former leagues to oppose the NFL were “The AmericanFootball League, The All American Football Conference, The United States Football League,Xtreme Football League, World Football League, Canadian Football League, and the ArenaFootball League.” (Jorzsa, 2010) (Conligio, 1997) “The NFL merged with the All American Football Conference in December 1949, withthe NFL absorbing three teams into the league The Cleveland Browns, The Dallas Texans andthe San Francisco 49ers. The Texans moved to Baltimore and became the Baltimore Colts. Thedownfall of the AAFC was the domination since the inception of the Cleveland Browns. Theynearly went undefeated every season and fans quickly drew disinterested.”(Jorzsa, 2010) The NFL has merged with many of these leagues to dominate different target markets
12throughout the United States. The AFL played an integral part of success of the NFL. “ The AFL existed from 1960-1969 and were the pioneers for many of the innovative ideas that we see in the NFL today. Of all of the leagues that have attempted to challenge the dominance of an established league, the American Football League was the only one to be truly successful. The American Football League was the only league in North American pro sports ever to have merged with another major league and have all its teams continue to exist. No AFL teams folded and only two teams changed cities during the leagues 10-year existence. Further, the league that merged with it adopted many of the innovative on- and off-field elements introduced by the AFL, including names on player jerseys, official scoreboard clocks and gate and revenue sharing. The AFLs challenge to the NFL also made possible the only four World Championship Games ever played between the champions of two major football leagues.”(Conligio, 1997) The AFL also created the two-point conversion, which the NFL adopted in the 1990s.The key to the AFL‟s success with limited print media coverage was the ability to capitalize theaudience through television. Executives at the AFL realized the importance of television. Theymade the game more audience friendly such as mid field camera angles, slow motion replay, andofficial scoreboard clock. Many of the coaches in the AFL tried to create a more downfieldapproach such as Al Davis. Prior to his throw heavy offense many referred to football as runningand creating a cloud of dust. The AFL was also the first league to add microphones to players.The AFL played during the 60‟s when the world was changing and the AFL scouted more
13African American colleges then the NFL. The AFL also realized the importance of competitivebalance creating a 14 game schedule for its 8 teams. This gave every team the same strength ofschedule and gave each team equal opportunity.(Conligio, 1997) As a direct result of the AFL‟s success the NFL granted franchises to several differentlocations. “The Dallas Cowboys were created to drive the Dallas Texans out of business. TheMinnesota Vikings were created for Max Winter because he had abandoned the AFL. The AFLsupplemented his abandonment with a new franchise in Oakland. Rakin Smith was interested inpurchasing the Miami Dolphins, the NFL persuaded him not to purchase them by creating theexpansion Atlanta Falcons. The New Orleans Saints were created due to the support that thegovernor gave to the NFL and AFL during its merger.” The original 8 teams that participated in the AFL were the Boston Patriots, The BuffaloBills, Houston Oilers, The Titans of New York, The Denver Broncos, The Dallas Texans, TheLos Angeles Chargers, and the Oakland Raiders. The Houston Oilers would later join theEastern Division, and the Cincinnati Bengals would later join the Western Division. All of thesefranchises would continue play when the NFL and AFL merged in 1970.Both in the short andlong run, this merger significantly affected the NFL‟s fan base and market power, and itinfluenced the total number of games its clubs played during regular seasons and in postseasons.More specifically from 1969 to 1970, the league‟s paid attendance in regular seasons increasedby 56 percent and in postseasons by 182 percent while the total number of games played rose by75 (65 percent). In 2007, the NFL‟s total paid attendance for 256 regular season games was 17.3million and 792,000 for 12 post-season games. Thus between 1969 and 2007 inclusive, theNFL‟s paid attendance per game increased by 24 percent during regular seasons and by 22
14percent in postseasons.”(Jorzsa, 2010). This merger helped create geographical rivalries betweenthe already existing NFL.(History Of The USFL, 1997) Other competitive leagues were not as successful such as the USFL. “The USFL wasoriginally played in the spring and tried to sue the NFL on antitrust ground claiming the NFL hada monopoly over the sport since they were the only league to play in the fall. The USFL hadmany superstars playing in there league during the 1980‟s such as Steve Young, Hershell Walkerbut their downfall was an abundance of contracts that teams couldn‟t afford.” (History Of TheUSFL, 1997) (XFL History, 2005)The USFL never got a chance to play in the fall as they lost thereantitrust case and were handed a check for one dollar for the case. The USFL league playedfrom 1983-1985. “The XFL was the brainchild of Wrestling promoter and owner of the WWE VinceMcMahon, backed by NBC.”(XFL History, 2005). (History of the UFL, 2007)The XFL onlylasted one season and was an epic failure in both ratings and as a football league. The league willbe remembered for players being allowed to put clever nicknames on the back of their jerseyssuch as " He Hate Me", new camera angles, and behind the scenes access it gave to the fans. Theleague was set up to do well in big cities; big sponsors, a television deal but it had one flaw theoverall talent. While it did produce some NFL players most of the talent in the league was subparand fans grew disinterested relatively quickly. “The UFL kicked off its season in 2009 is still currently in existence. The UFL is playedduring the fall season so it is in direct competition with the NFL and college football. Since itsinception its goal has been to provide fans with a cheap alternative to the NFL. The leagues focusis to expand into college towns showcasing former college stars that did not make it in the
15NFL.”(History of the UFL, 2007) The Arena Football League has played games since 1987 and is still currently beingplayed to this day. Though most of the rules between the NFL and the Arena Football leaguediffer many of the rules are the same. “The AFLhas already reached a one-year deal with theNFL Network to broadcast a Friday night game of the week, beginning with Chicago at Iowa onApril 2nd. Kurz said 14 of the 15 teams would be featured during the regular season.” (Press,2010)The game flowand pace of the Arena league is fast paced, lots of scoring, and is played ona 60-yard field. The league currently has 20 teams that play in the league and after take a shorthiatus to get their revenues in order they plan to stay for a long time.” One form of competition for the NFL happens to be north of the border with TheCanadian Football League. The CFL was officially founded in 1958 according to CanadianFootball League History (History of the CFL, 2004). “The CFL has roots in rugby, and has beenplaying games since 1958. The league currently has nine franchises and is looking to expand to atenth team according to its website. The league operates between the months of June andNovember. The CFL has made an agreement with the NFL to allow the Buffalo Bills to play inthe Rodgers Centre in Toronto.” Many football enthusiasts believe when Bills owner RalphWilson Jr. passes on the Bills will move to Toronto, Canada, which is the “fifth largest populatedcity in North America. (US Census, 2000)(Vrooman, 2009) In the past there have been many leagues that have gone head to head with the NFL. It isno secret that most of them have failed. While the economic model of the NFL has helped it havegreat success, prospective businessmen should realize sponsors like dealing with trusted partners.While a new league may spring up and have good markets, contracts, stadiums and even revenuesystem they may lack in talent. The NFL is the head and shoulders the best collection of talent of
16playing the game of professional football in the world. The NFL does everything in its power toensure that different market segments are met to maximize its profits. Since owners are sharingrevenues it would be of adverse affect to not have the best markets play in the league. Only in theNFL can the Green Bay Packers win multiple championships and are owned by the publicshareholders, and the city of Los Angeles the second largest media market in the city remainwithout an NFL franchise. Expansion teams must be proposed and pay a hefty entrance fee. “TheCleveland Browns paid $350 million and the Houston Texans paid $750 million to enter theleague.”(Vrooman, 2009, p. 29)Rival sports league have an adverse effect on the NFL as theyincrease the contract size of players. Ultimately it can create a bidding war in which an upstartleague may go at any length to get. According to (Vrooman, 2009, pp. 29-30)“In optimal competitive balance is an empiricalquestion complicated by sports leaguesas naturally cooperative cartels. Theory implies thatrevenue sharing in profit-maximizing leagues is inefficient because it increases monopsonypower, and yet revenue sharing is efficient in sportsman leagues because it increases competitivebalance. Future research should determine the blend of cooperation and competition thatmaximizes social welfare in professional sports leagues. In theory the perfect game is asymbiotic contest between evenly matched opponents, but in practice the perfect game is anevenly matched contest between chance and fate". I agree with this author‟s deduction because he tested each professional sports leagueindividually depending on its own economic structure. He determined that the NFL was themost competitively balanced league out of the four major professional sports leagues. He cameto the conclusion if an owner is a “sportsman owner”, one that wants to win by sacrificing howmuch profit he or she can make, or a “profit maximizing owner” that may sacrifice talent on the
17field to churn a profit can both be successful in the economic structure of the NFL.THE NFL DRAFT The NFL draft is another example of how the NFL promotes competitive balance.“Since1935, the NFL has maintained an economic and competitive model that distributes talent andrevenues throughout the league.”(Yost, 2006) “The foundation to this model is league‟s reverse order draft, which guarantees that big-and small market teams alike have an equal opportunity to draft the best college players.”(Yost,2006) “The NFL draft is currently a three-day selection process that allows teams the rights toclaim the top football talents from across the world. Teams that make the playoffs are thendetermined by record and placed by where they are eliminated in the playoffs. The only twospots that are set in stone at that point are the two super bowl teams, with the winner getting thelater of the two picks. If there is a tie between two or more franchises the NFL breaks it byprevious years strength of schedule, division or conference record, or if all else fails the finaloption is a coin flip. If there is an expansion team entering the NFL they will automaticallyreceive the top pick in the draft.” (Bonser). With intentions of promoting competitive balance,the NFL sets the draft in reverse standings order. The NFL draft takes place, over a three-day period and lasts for seven rounds. Scouts,general managers, coaches are sent all across the United States to witness who could becomethere teams next superstar. According to Bianchi, G. Age Requirement in Professional Sport:http://www.thesportjournal.org/article/age-requirement-professional-sport “NFL rule requires a
18player to either be out of high school for three years or have finished three college footballseasons before joining the league.” (Lupica, M. 2004) “The NFL is the only major professionalsport that prohibits the drafting of players who have not completed three college seasons or whoare not three years removed from high school graduation” (Gehring, 2004; Nieporent 2004). TheNFL claims that this rule is in the athlete‟s best interest. The NFL argues that this rule protectsplayer‟s physical safety. However, the NFL and the NCAA benefit by capitalizing on amateurathletes.” The NFL differs from other professional sports because you must be three years removedfrom high school before you are eligible to declare for the draft. Being that the NFL is such aphysically demanding sport this is the correct rule to have in place. In this case it is to my beliefthat this benefits the NFL more than any other professional sports leagues. I hold that this rulepromotes competitive balance because it allows the players to get coached longer and more of anopportunity to polish their skills. Being that the NFL is so physically demanding the strength of aveteran compared to a senior coming out of high school is significant. There are also several ways that NFL teams can acquire draft picks. “Teams can acquirepicks by either trading them or by receiving compensery picks. A team can also acquire acompensatory draft picks based off the free agents that the team lost in the offseason. If a teamloses more players then they acquire in free agency the NFL rewards them with a compensatorydraft pick. These draft choices are discussed a few weeks before the NFL draft and are restrictedfrom trade. A team can receive anywhere between a fourth and a seventh round pick dependingon much the player or players contract is worth that they lost. Draft picks can also be forfeited ifa team does something illegal such as going over the cap, or video taping another teamspractice.” (Bonser)
19 Each round has time limits on them so the pressure of every pick is mounting. This alsomakes for exciting television. A first round pick has a time limit of ten minutes, while a secondpicks time limit is seven minutes. Round three through seven each have a five-minute time limit.If a team does not submit there pick before the time limit expires, the next team in the draft ordercan jump in front of them. Though this is rare it has happened in the past.” In todays game the NFL draft is a huge media spectacle for the fans that draws hugeratings Scouts, general managers, and coaches‟ search all over the country to select its nextbudding superstar. ESPNU ranks the top 100 players so at a high school level both fans andcolleges can follow the top recruits throughout their career. Fans can follow along and root for asmany blue chips prospects to select their schools as possible. To identify these blue chip or five star athletes ESPN Draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. andTodd McShay along with other scouts rank where they believe players will be selected in thedraft. Kiper and McShay, along with other scout agencies, send out there reports to agents thecollege player rankings. Scouting is very important in the NFL because of the many differentpositions and divisions a player can come from. The NFL draft rewards teams in theory who hadan underwhelming season, it gives the fans a glimmer of hope that better days are yet to come. A terrible draft selection can set a franchise back for several years. Football is a game ofinches, injuries, and calls in or out of your favor; so how do you find the next mid round hall offamer? Each season prior to the draft the NFL holds a scouting combine in Indianapolis withscouts, general managers, and coaches in attendance. In these drills player‟s mental and physicalabilities are tested amongst there competition. (NFL.com, 2011)“Such events as bench press, forty-yard dash, cone shuffle amongstother events that measure physical attributes. Players are also asked to interview to see how they
20fair under media pressure and take a wonder licktest, which measures a player‟sintelligence.Colleges also host Pro Days, which showcase some of their potential NFL stars.” By putting iton all out display of the incoming players talents it allows, scouts the opportunity to see beforetheir eyes the top talent from across the country. Bert Bell created the idea of the NFL in 1936 while he was owner of the PhiladelphiaEagles. "Bellrealized as an owner if he wanted to bring in the top talent from the league, whilefielding one of its weakest rosters, the league needed to adopt a draft. All of the NFL ownersmeet in a hotel where a vote was held on whether or not the NFL should adopt the idea of anNFL draft. The owners unanimously agreed that a draft should be instituted along with revenuesharing to help promote competitive balance. While having the top selection in the draft didntgive the Championship that Bert Bell had desired, it laid out the blueprint for teams today. Bellfeared that without a draft that players would just sign with teams who had history of success oroffered the most money.”According to Hall Of Famers: Bert Bell (Hall of Fame, 2008)Bellwouldlater go on to be elected commissioner of the NFL from 1946-1959 for visionary ideas such asthe NFL draft. “In 1977 the NFL instituted the supplemental draft, which gave college players theopportunity to enter the NFL but didnt meet certain requirements to enter the draft. Some ofthose requirements might be not filling for the draft on time, academic, or behavioral.Supplemental drafts are a little different then the actual NFL drafts because teams make bids onplayers. Each team submits their bid on what round they believe that they would select theirplayer in. Players are awarded to teams who have the highest priority and have the highest bid. Ifa player is awarded to a team then the team must forfeit there draft pick in that round in thefollowing season.”(Adler, 2011)
21 One of the main reasons that the NFL owners and players were at such a standstill inlabor negotiations was the rookie wage scale. In previous seasons NFL rookies that were draftedearly in the first round were paid like full serviced veterans of the league without ever playing asnap. Even with advanced scouting teams, they can be wrong, and those wrong decisions can seta franchise back for several seasons. It was collectively bargained that a rookie‟ssalary would bemuch lower then they were previously. “The difference between Cam Newton and Sam Bradford‟s contract is about $50 Milliondollars. Both players play the same position and both players were the first overall pick in thererespective years but one year made a big difference.” The author of this article feels it is the rightdecision. "No longer will teams long term health be put at risk by a high round draft choice."Lobdell J. (2011,July) Our First Look At The NFL Draft: (Lobdell, 2011) This is another way the NFL promotes competitive balance when you consider that itallows teams the ability to sign other pieces to there team to get them back into contention at anaccelerated rate. Some other authors do not believe that the NFL draft does not promotecompetitive balance. Bert Bells legacy as NFL commissioner carries on the success of the gametoday. During his tenure the NFL wasn‟t making money like it is today hand over fist but he laidthe blue print for it. “On any given Sunday, any team in our league can beat any other team.There isn‟t any such animal as a weak sister in our league anymore. You knock my brains outthis week, next week I will knock your brains out.” (Yost, 2006)NFL Playoffs and the Super Bowl The Super Bowl is the final game of the season that pits the winner of the AFC against
22the NFC. The game has been played that way since 1971 prior to that it was the winner of theAFL versus the winner of the NFL. Millions of fans all over the world tune in to see the SuperBowl, which has become a secular holiday. “The NFLs final game was originally called The Big One but after watching his childrenplay with a toy labeled Super Ball Lamar Hunt suggested to commissioner Rozelle to change it.Throughout the years the NFL‟s postseason, various major television networks have won theexclusive rights to broadcast a number of Super Bowl games.” (Jorzsa, 2010) In today‟s sports landscape winning the Super Bowl is one of the hardest achievements inall of sports to accomplish. It is also a major source of revenue of networks according to “A 30second advertisement at the Super Bowl that the Steelers defeated the Cardinals earned NBCaround 3 million dollars.” (Jorzsa, 2010) Super Bowls generate business for the host towns and also generate business to gamblingwebsites. To prove my point of competitive balance I have listed the past 15 Super Bowlparticipants. I have also recorded the winner, attendance and result as my part of my study.I have obtained the following scores from The NFL Record & Fact Book and the world almanacand book of facts1997- 35 Packers vs. Patriots 24-Attendance- 68,9121998- 31 Broncos vs. Packers 24-Attendance- 74,803
231999- 34 Broncos vs. Falcons 19-Attendance- 72,6252000- 23 Rams vs. Titans 16-Attendance- 71,9212001- 34 Ravensvs. Giants 7-Attendance- 72,9222002- 20 Patriots vs. Rams 17Attendance- 67,7032003- 48 Buccaneers vs. Raiders 21Attendance- 71,5252004- 32 Patriots vs. Panthers 29Attendance- 71,5252005- 24 Patriots vs. Eagles 21Attendance- 78,1252006- 21 Steelers vs. Seahawks 10
24Attendance- 68,2062007- 29 Colts vs. Bears 17Attendance- 74,5122008- 17 Giants vs. Patriots 14Attendance- 71,5012009- 27 Steelers vs. Cardinals 23Attendance-70,7742010- 31 Saints vs. Colts 17Attendance-74,0592011- 31 Packers vs. Steelers 25-Attendance- 103,219 The following teams have appeared in more then one Super Bowl over the past 15 years.The Patriots (4), The Packers (3), The Steelers (3), The Giants (2), The Colts (2), The Broncos(2), and the Rams (2). The following teams have won more then one Super Bowl within the past15 years. The Patriots (3), The Packers (2), and The Broncos (2). As you can see while it is possible to have runs for an expended period of time it is moreoften that not that participants will change from year to year. You can also attribute that whileyou can promote competitive balance some executives and coaches are just better then others.
25 The following teams have had only one lone Super Bowl appearance within the past 15years. The Saints, The Ravens, The Rams, The Titans, The Raiders, The Cardinals, The Bears,The Seahawks, The Falcons, The Eagles, and The Panthers. There have been seven differentteams from the AFC to appear in the Super Bowl in 15 years. While the NFC has had tendifferent franchises represent them in the Super Bowl within the past 15 seasons. The NFL playoffs are the only professional sports league to use a single game eliminationformat to determine its playoff winners. This allows for more upsets, and draws interest fromfans since so much is on the line. The NFL is constructed of two conferences the AFC and theNFC; which contains 16 teams each. Division winners automatically qualify for the playoffs.The NFL has also set up four divisions of four teams in each conference to set up rivalries, whichare both historical and geographical. With ideas of promoting competitive balance the NFL as oflast season has added divisional games played to week 17 of the season to keep fans interested.The Houston Texans are the only current NFL team to have never qualified for the playoffs. Ihave enlisted the NFLs playoff teams for the past 10 seasons. According to (Yost, 2006)“The Steelers and The Seahawks, the two Super Bowl XLcombatants, represent the 21st and 14th largest markets in America. This balanced competitiveplay on the field-in partnership with balanced economics off the field has made the NFL of everyother league.” In other sports large population markets such as the Los Angeles Lakers, DetroitRedwings, and the New York Yankees continuously dominate championships. In the NFL asyou can Super Bowl contending teams within the past fifteen years you can see the teams comefrom small to medium markets such as the Tampa Bay, Oakland, Green Bay, Carolina,Nashville, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and New Orleans. Mid Market population teams such as
26Baltimore, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, and Atlanta have also participated in Super Bowls. The past five Super Bowl winners are in direct correlation to the rule changes of the NFL.The NFL has recently heightened safety for the offensive player and limited the amount ofcontact a defender can have on a receiver. The Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints,Pittsburgh Steelers, and Indianapolis Colts strengths in their Super Bowl stretch were the verticalpassing game. While the Giants strength may not have the vertical passing game they were builtto stop it with one of the most ferocious defensive lines ever assembled. In the 2008 NFL seasonThe New England Patriots where setting offensive records across the board. They were only onegame away from a perfect season until they ran into a team who schemed perfectly for them.Less than a month earlier the two teams met where the Patriots defeated the Giants easily. Theupset in the Super Bowl was one illustration of competitive balance that the NFL puts on displayevery year.I have obtained the following data from participants of the NFL playoffs fromNFL.com/standingsNFL Playoffs2010AFC- Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Colts, Jets, Chiefs.NFC- Falcons, Bears, Saints, Eagles, Seahawks, Packers2009
282003AFC- Chiefs, Patriots, Titans, Colts, Broncos, RavensNFC- Rams, Eagles, Panthers, Packers, Seahawks, Cowboys2002AFC- Raiders, Titans, Steelers, Jets, Colts, BroncosNFC- Eagles, Buccaneers, Packers, 49ers, Giants, Falcons2001AFC- Steelers, Patriots, Dolphins, Raiders, Jets, RavensNFC- Rams, Bears, Eagles, Packers, 49ers, Buccaneers The AFC has averaged over that 15-year period at least three new teams to qualify for theplayoffs each season. I have also noticed that in the NFC out of fifteen years, over ten differentteams have qualified for the Super Bowl over that time period. While fans enjoy rooting themore teams who compete for playoff spots each year draws interest to fan bases in both ratingsand attendance.The NFL Schedule and Competitive Balance Today The NFL realizes that close games are important to drive fans to attend and fortelevision ratings. With that in mind competitive balance plays in important role in schedule
29creation for the NFL. "The NFL schedule is set up three years in advance with the exception oftwo open slots, which are allocated, for two teams who finished in the same place as them theprevious season. 6 divisional games, 4 in conference games, and 4 out of conference gamesdivides the other fourteen games up. The 4 in and out of conference games are rotational andswitch a division each season." According to National Football League (2011, March ) 2011team by team opponents in the NFL: (NFL, 2011)(Enterprises, 2010)In my opinioncommissioner Roger Godell realizes the importance of having the most competitive gamesrecently installed all divisional games occurring on week 17 of the season. In theory playerswon‟t mail in the game even if it playoff implications may not be on the line due to divisionrivalry.Illustrations Of Competitive Balance1996New England from 6-10 to 11-5Detroit Lions from 10-6 to 5-111997New York Jets from 1-15 to 9-7Buffalo Bills from 10-6 to 6-10New York Giants from 1-15 to 9-7
301998Buffalo Bills from 6-10 to 10-6Dallas Cowboys from 6-10 to 10-6Atlanta Falcons from 7-9 to 14-21999Indianapolis Colts from 3-13 to 13-3Washington Redskins from 6-10 to 10-6St. Louis Rams from 4-12 to 13-3Atlanta Falcons from 14-2 to 5-112000Denver Broncos from 6-10 to 11-5Philadelphia Eagles from 5-11 to 11-5New Orleans Saints from 3-13 to 10-62001New England Patriots from 5-11 to 11-5Chicago Bears from 5-11 to 13-3Minnesota Vikings from 11-5 to 5-11San Francisco 49ers from 6-10 to 12-42002
31Indianapolis Colts from 6-10 to 10-6Chicago Bears from 13-3 to 4-122003Pittsburgh Steelers from 10-5 to 6-10Oakland Raiders from 11-5 to 6-10Dallas Cowboys from 5-11 to 10-6Carolina Panthers from 7-9 to 11-52004Pittsburgh Steelers from 6-10 to 5-1Tennessee Titans from 12-4 to 5-11San Diego Chargers from 4-12 to 12-42005Cincinnati Bengals from 8-8 to 11-5New York Giants from 6-10 to 11-5Chicago Bears from 5-11 to 11-5Philadelphia Eagles from 13-3 to 6-102006New York Jets from 4-12 to 10-6
32New Orleans Saints from 3-13 to 10-6Baltimore Ravens from 6-10 to 13-3Philadelphia Eagles from 6-10 to 10-6Washington Redskins 10-6 to 5-11Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 11-5 to 4-122007New York Jets from 10-6 to 4-12Baltimore Ravens from 13-3 to 5-11Kansas City Chiefs from 9-7 to 4-12St. Louis Rams 8-8 to 3-13New Orleans Saints from 10-6 to 7-9Chicago Bears from 13-3 to 7-9Green Bay Packers from 8-8 to 13-3Dallas Cowboys 9-7 to 13-32008Miami Dolphins from 1-15 to 11-5New York Jets from 4-12 to 9-7Baltimore Ravens from 5-11 to 11-5Cleveland Browns from 10-6 to 4-12Jacksonville Jaguars from 11-5 to 5-11Green Bay Packers from 13-3 to 6-10
33Seattle Seahawks from 10-6 to 4-122009Cincinnati Bengals from 4-11-1 to 10-6Tennessee Titans from 13-3 to 8-8San Diego Chargers from 8-8 to 13-3New York Giants from 12-4 to 8-8Green Bay Packers from 6-10 to 11-5Carolina Panthers 12-4 to 8-8Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 9-7 to 3-132010Cincinnati Bengals from 10-6 to 4-12Kansas City Chiefs from 4-12 to 10-6Arizona Cardinals 10-6 to 5-11St. Louis Rams from 1-15 to 7-9Carolina Panthers from 8-8 to 2-14Minnesota Vikings from 12-4 to 6-10Chicago Bears from 7-9 to 11-5Dallas Cowboys from 11-5 to 6-10From Last Place to First Place2007- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
342008- Miami Dolphins2009- New Orleans Saints2010- Minnesota VikingsFrom First Place to Last Place2005- Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals2007- Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago BearsCoaching Philosophies One reason that the NFL has so much competitive balance is the different strategies eachteam uses based on its roster. Some teams are weaker on defense and stronger on offense.Others can be equally as strong on offense and defense but suffer from horrible special teams. Ithink to prove my point illustrating each coach‟s strategy is an important aspect to prove mypoint of why the NFL has the most competitive balance.NFL Rules and Regulations Professional football is both physically and mentally demanding. It is a game that isconstantly evolving as players become faster and stronger throughout the years. Many veteranshave suffered injuries attributed to their football playing careers that they carry on to this day.With this in mind the NFL has made a concentrated effort to increase players safety over theyears. This is important because a key injury to a player such as Peyton Manning can ruin a
35team‟s chance of having a successful season. This is key for both competitive balance and forplayer‟s longevity of health. "Rule changes in the NFL have been made throughout the history of the league toimprove the game, make it more exciting and reduce the risk of injury. Safety rules are one of themost important and effective ways in which the NFL and its owners can help protect the healthof players. By helping to identify, promote and enforce safe on-field conduct (in concert withoff-the-field education and policies), the league seeks to preserve both the health of players andthe integrity of the game."(Enterprises, 2010) Today NFL league officials have meetings to discuss player‟s safety, long-term healthrisks, and how to better suit competition. It is important for the NFL to sit down every year andbroaden its rules, and policy‟s because at the highest level of play they set the standards for thepeewee youth leagues, colleges, and high school athletes across the country. I have taken theliberty to identify the rules that have promoted competitive balance and player‟s safety from1960-2011. “The scoreboard in NFL stadiums running game times became the official game clock in1962. This was an idea the NFL would borrow in 1970 when the leagues merged. In 1966 thefield goal posts were raised to 20 feet above the crossbars became standard. In 1967 a player whosignals for a fair catch may not block or initiate contact with a player until the ball is touched bya player. Today this penalty would be known as fair catch interference. Switching from anofficials game block to an official scoreboard clock made it easier for the fans to follow alongwith the game. The fair catch was one of the first rules for player‟s safety and prevention ofinjury. The raising of the field goal posts made it easier to identity to officials if a kick was goodor not. In the previous NFL championship game a controversial field goal was called no good
36and many in attendance claimed that it did in fact go through the uprights.”(Enterprises, 2010) “In 1970 the NFL and the AFL merged to become one league. One of the manyinnovative ideas that the AFL brought to the sport of professional football is adding players lastnames to the back of their jerseys. Today a fan may take advantage of the fact how easilyidentifiable it is to recognize a player after a tackle, or a large run after a catch. The AFL withtheir bright and colorful jerseys realized the potential of familiarizing their fans with players whohad their faces covered by helmets.”(Enterprises, 2010) “In 1971 injury time out rules were defined that a team will not be charged a timeout fora players injury unless it is past the two minute point of the 2nd or 4rth quarter. 1974 was animportant year for the NFL as many rules were changed to promote competitive balance andsafety of its players.” NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health and Safety: (Enterprises, 2010) “In 1974 sudden death overtime period was incorporated into the game. If the two teamswere tied at the duration of the period the game would end in a tie. Field goal posts were onceagain a topic of discussion as they were interfering with the play as both a safety hazard, andstrategy of teams. The posts were moved to the back of the end zones due to players running intothem. Kickoffs were moved from the 40-yard line to the 35-yard line, and restrictions on whereyou can block were placed to open up the return game. Downfield contact with wide receiverswas also limited, as they were allowed contact, but only up to ten yards. Chop blocking zoneswere introduced and anything beyond the chop-blocking box became a penalty.”NFL Enterprises(2010) NFL Health and Safety: (Enterprises, 2010) One of the most important rules maybe to be incorporated into the NFL was the wayoffensive linemen were allowed to extend their arms. This was an important rule because thisallowed quarterbacks more time in the pocket to pass and made the game more vertical.
37 In 1978, “the NFL adopted a new 16-game schedule preceded by a four-game preseason.An additional wild card team in each conference was added to the playoffs with the two wildcards squaring off during the first weekend of the post-season. 1979 saw an even more emphasison player safety as referees were now instructed to blow a play dead if a quarterback was clearlyin the grasp of a tackler.” NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health and Safety: (Enterprises, 2010) Personal Fouls were also introduced prohibiting players from striking, swinging, orclubbing opponents in the fact, neck or head area. “If a player commits a personal foul they willbe faced with a 15-yard penalty and it is possible they could be kicked out of the game.” NFLEnterprises (2010) NFL Health and Safety: (Enterprises, 2010) The 1980s saw few rules added to the game but the few that were added were importantfor player‟s safety. “Hip Pads became mandatory to wear over uniforms in 1982, and in 1985 if aquarterback slid headfirst he was not allowed to be tackled. In 1988 game clocks were extendedfrom 30 seconds to 45 seconds.”NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health and Safety: (Enterprises,2010) This was important because it allowed coaches and players more of an opportunity to callthe correct play. Thus allowing more downfield protection, which will allow more completepasses, which ultimately leads to more points. The 90s were a decade that saw more rulechanges in terms of competitive balance and player‟s safety. “In 1990 the NFL once again revised its playoff format to include two more wild cardteams. All three-division winners would qualify for the playoffs, along with three wild cardteams. This would bring a total of 12 teams to qualify for the playoffs, and would give the twoteams from each conference that finished with the best record a bye in the first round of theplayoffs.” NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health and Safety: (Enterprises, 2010)
38 “Since the Wild Card System began in 1970, only nine wild card teams have advanced allthe way to the Super Bowl. Of those, five won the Super Bowl. Only three of those wild cardteams -- New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Giants -- won three games onthe road to make it to the Super Bowl." NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health and Safety:(Enterprises, 2010). Last season the Green Bay Packers also made it to the Super Bowl as the 6thwild card seed and won. Wildcard weekend is a fun slate of games were the winners are moreoften then not unpredictable. “1994 the NFL gave the option to teams to try and convert a two-point conversion byway of pass or run. If a team elected to go for one point after a touchdown they still had thisoption. Kickoffs were also moved from the 35 to the 30-yard line of the receiving team in thesame year. Neutral zone infractions were also clearly defined in 1994 which made it clear toofficials that a play must be blown dead when a defensive player forces an offensive player to gooffside. In 1995 a receiver who is knocked out of bounds can now return to the field of play if here establishes himself with both feet. If he does not then he cannot be the first player to touch theball otherwise he will be charged with a penalty.”NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health andSafety: (Enterprises, 2010). Also in the same year communication devices became more efficientso the NFL is a league that moved with the times and allowed players and coaches tocommunicate with a small radio device connected to a players helmet. This was a smart move bythe NFL to allow coaches to get plays in to quarterbacks quicker making the game a faster pacedexciting draw for the fans. In the later half of the 1990s safety remained the issue.“In 1996 helmet-to-helmetpenalties became an issue of debate as we became more aware of concussions as a society.Flags would now be given for players striking other players with their helmet with the referees
39giving them personal fouls and the option to eject players from the game. NFL officials wouldnow review all helmet to helmet hits and would hand out fines after games to players guilty ofmaliciously hitting players with there helmet. Continuing there focus on helmet safety, allplayers were instructed to not remove there helmets at any point of play otherwise they would becharged with a penalty. A player at this point is allowed to remove his helmet during a timeout orat the duration of a quarter.”NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health and Safety: (Enterprises, 2010).One of the most important rules to ever be created in the NFL was instant replay. “Instant replay was tested in the 1998 preseason but would not go into affect until the1999 regular season. The NFL allowed head coaches to challenge a multitude of different callson the field with the principle that they were incorrect in there challenge that they would losethere timeout. Each team at this point would be allowed two challenges per half. 1999 also sawthe clipping rule altered as clip zones were removed from the game entirely and now playerswere no longer allowed to chop block.” NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health and Safety:(Enterprises, 2010) “2000 saw the boom of the World Wide Web, and all proceeds of NFL.com were splitequally amongst the NFL teams. According to (Yost, 2006). “In 2002 a player who touched apylon while having the ball remaining in bounds was deemed a touchdown. This play would beruled live as long as any part of his body did not touch the ground.” NFL Enterprises (2010) NFLHealth and Safety: (Enterprises, 2010) “Officiating of playoff games was brought up to the competition committee in thesummer of 2003 so from that season going forward all referee crews were to be kept together allseason long. Each officiating crew would be graded after each game and the crew with thehighest score would do the more important games.”NFL Enterprises (2010) NFL Health and
40Safety: (Enterprises, 2010). Prior to this season all-star crews were selected and divided refereecrews up. “In 2004 instant replay was tweaked awarding a third challenge to a coach if his previoustwo challenges were won. The Tom Brady rule as many people often refer to it as expanding theroughing the passer penalty as anything below the quarterback‟s knees. 2006 also prohibitedplayers from horse collar tackling or grasping the inside the collar of the jersey. In 2009defenseless receivers rules are created prohibiting hits by defenders with helmets, forearms, andshoulders. Wedge blocking is eliminated from kickoffs to open up lanes for returns. Prior to thisseason, kickoffs were moved back once again to the 35 yard line.”NFL Enterprises (2010) NFLHealth and Safety: (Enterprises, 2010) Many fans objected this rule but the league is making a concentrated effort to stopconcussions. A list of defenseless players also will now include kickers, and punters during thereturn. A Quarterback shall be deemed defenseless on a change of possession, and a player whoreceives a blindside block. Defenses in todays games must allow receivers to allow them tocatch the ball and defenders must allow them time to protect themselves when they are clearlyestablished as runners. The NFL has instituted a multitude of new rules to promote offense and protect the safetyof its players. The league now realizes the severity of concussions and has gone to the upmostlength of ensuring players safety. The NFL realizes fans enjoy high scoring and offense and allof the new rules that have been implemented are those that promote scoring within the past tenyears.Financials
42St. Louis Rams 111 208 33 26 390 929Tampa Bay Buccaneers 129 224 41 39 502 1053Tennessee Titans 90 216 4 25 502 1053Washington Redskins 152 327 49 58 607 1538Note: Revenue is net of stadium revenues used for debt payments. Operating income is earnedbefore interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Value is current (2008) stadium dealwithout deductions for debt. These numbers are in millions of dollars. NA means not availablesince the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns did not exist in 1998.Source: “ (Jorzsa, 2010)Football Fortunes: NFL Team Valuations-ForbesRevenue Sharing “Unshared revenues for NFL teams include funds from stadium naming rights, localsponsorships, local radio and television deals, and pregame and postgame clubs.”Yost, M. (2006)Tailgating, Sacks, and Salary Caps, Kaplan.“Personal Seat Licensing is a new way NFLfranchises can make money that is not shared.”(Barker, 2009) “The Ravens, Panthers, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Giants, Jets, Texans, Eagles,Steelers, Seahawks, Rams, and Titans all sell some form of Personal Seat Licensing. PSL‟s arewhen teams give the fans opportunity to not only buying the tickets to the games but purchasedtheir seat for other functions in the stadium. 60 percent of “home” ticket sales, concessions,parking, and team store merchandise sales are shared.”(Yost, 2006) “Under the labor and revenue-sharing system that was modified in March 2006, everyNFL owner starts out with about $100 million a year from national television and radio contracts,sponsorships, and shared ticket revenue from each game.”(Yost, 2006)
43 “Teams receive equal portions from a 12 percent royalty on NFL merchandise. In total,about $3 billion of the leagues $5.2 billion revenue stream is shared equally among teams. As aresult, the Houston Texans, the team with the worst record in the NFL in 2005, are benefitingfrom the merchandise sales of the Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers.”(Yost, 2006) “Revenue that is shared is national television right, licensing fees for official NFLmerchandise, and 40 percent of all regular ticket sales, which are considered “away” team ticketsales. In 2005 the NFL shared $5.2 Billion dollars of revenue with each team equally. Hittingthe target of the males between the ages of 18-49 better than anyone on television.”(Yost, 2006) Competitive balance, league expansion into new markets, and new media during thesecond half of the twentieth century has built the NFL into the economic juggernaut that it istoday. Even through all the changes throughout the years the NFL still generates immenseamounts of revenues and profit margins and at the same time, allows the smallest to largestmarket teams to compete against each other on equal footing. “We‟re in the 20th biggest market,”said Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. “We do well, but it would be very difficult to becompetitive if the NFL didn‟t share revenue. We compete against each other for three hours aweek, otherwise we have aligned interests” said New England Patriots Owner RobertKraft.(Yost, 2006)So it can be said that successful large market owners also realize theimportance of having everyone on equal ground. “In 2006, the average head coach made 2.5 million; the average player made $1.2million, with top stars making several times that much. The average franchise was worth $733million, with the Washington Redskins topping $1 billion.” (Oriard, 2009)Brand NFL, UNC-Press
44Television The advent of television was the beginning of the transformation of the NFL fromobscure, little regarded sports league into the economic powerhouse that it is today. “From 1948through 1955, the number of television sets in the United States grew from 172,000 to 25million, and football awakened to the power of the new medium. In 1956, Bert Bell negotiatedthe first ever-national NFL TV contract, which banned the broadcast of home games withinhome markets. In 1957, there was an outcry to broadcast the sold out NFL championship gamebetween the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns. Despite pressure from the Michigangovernor and state senators Bell would not budge from his stance. Originally he along with hisNFL brass felt that it was dishonest to sell a fan a ticket to a home game when you can watch iton television.”(Yost, 2006) “In 1970, the league signed a four-year television contract under which CBS televised allNFC games and NBC broadcasted all AFC games. Monday Night Football was born andbrought the NFL to a broad, prime time audience. In 1973, the league announced that the SuperBowl was a sell-out and that the game would be televised.”(Yost, 2006). Today, the Super Bowlis the single most bankable television event for the league, television networks, and advertisers. “Most historians peg the emergence of the NFL onto the national sports landscape to thetelevised coverage of the 1958 title game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants.Four years later Pete Rozelle convinced big market teams such as the New York Giants, andChicago Bears that the best interest of the league was to negotiate a national television contractand sharing the revenues equally. Through the 1960‟s and 1970‟s, the NFL football became the
45most watched program on television and produced the greatest television event, The SuperBowl.”(Yost, 2006) “The NFL starting airing games primetime on Monday Night Football in 1970.” (Yost,2006). Competitive balance, compelling story lines, and the portrayal of NFL players as rockstars, made the NFLan instant hit on prime time. In 1998, the NFL signed a $17.6 billion dollar national television contract with fournetworks. The contracts gave the NFL $2.2 billion annually and more than $80 million a year tosplit equally with each team. In comparison to Major League Baseball the contract it receivedwas about $570 million a season, giving each team around 19 million dollars to split.”(Yost,2006) “Satellite television allows fans from all over the country, or the world to follow theirfavorite sports teams. The NFL Sunday Ticket was launched in 2005 and today DIRECTV has acontract with the NFL through the 2014 season. DirecTV pays the NFL around 4 billion dollarsa year to be the exclusive rights owner to all of the games distributions through FOX, and CBS.”(Yost, 2006)This contract is obviously a huge boost to the economic landscape of the NFL as allof this money is shared equally with all 32 NFL teams. “The NFL Network was launched in 2003 and the league invested around 100 milliondollars of its own funds into the league. The NFL network televises eight live regular seasongames during the season. The NFL network also broadcasts NFL exhibition games, Arenafootball, college football, high school football, and Canadian Football games. For its daily, year-around programming of football events, NFLN offers standard and high definition and video-on-demand services through television providers, NFL Mobile content via Sprint, online video andeditorial content through NFL.com, and downloadable video content through I Tunes. The
46league produces its own shows such as Replay, NFL Playbook, GameDay and Total Access inaddition to the Senior Bowl, Classic Games, Scouting For the NFL Draft, Preseason action, and alive slate of 8 live games a year.”(Jorzsa, 2010)The Impact of Fantasy Football “Current estimates put the number of people playing fantasy football each year atanywhere from 20 to 30 million. Over 3 million fantasy football magazines are sold before eachseason. Each major sports network has added fantasy football components to their broadcasts:Web sites, newspapers, and television shows.” (Yost, 2006) The NFL allows you to participate in fantasy football leagues for free on NFL.com. Witha few simple clicks of the mouse you can instantly be the coach, and general manager of yourfavorite NFL players. The NFL was once the pioneer of sports leagues to take advantage of anew technology in television at a time when other professional sports leagues would not embraceit. Currently the NFL is embracing this new form of technology and it is relative. Those 20 plus million fantasy football players can sit on their couch from home in theirfavorite players jersey while receiving updates of their scores on their Verizon cell phone withthe NFL mobile application. They can tweet or use Facebook to share their favorite playersvideo highlights or Players can watch all eight games at once on DIRECTV‟s Sunday ticket, or ifthey are on the road listen to every game on XM Sirius satellite radio. Fantasy Football playersbecome obsessed with stats, roster movement, coaches, and everything that has to do withfootball. It‟s a marketing director for a teams dream since teams are being followed closely even
47in the offseason. We are a fast moving society that wants our updates instantly and no otherleague besides the NFL to the level the NFL has. “The NFL owns one of the world‟s most recognized and valuable brands, and everyinroad into the market‟s awareness represents newer and larger revenues for the league. Thestrategy is working NFL.com and team Internet sites had a record traffic with 16 million uniquevisitors in 2005. The NFL is ranked second among sports related websites, behind onlyESPN.com, with 18.7 million users. MLB.com only had 10 million visitors, NASCAR 4million, The NBA 3 million, and the NHL a little more than 2 million. The NFL has the mosttraffic driven to its websites due to its updates of roster transactions in the offseason, post gamepress conferences, behind the scenes access, sports bars broadcasting games around the country,and pre and post game parties listed on teams official website.”(Yost, 2006)Empirical Results I recently posted a survey through surveymonkey.com to determine the value that sportsfans would rank competitive balance. 38 people participated in my survey, both male andfemale. The survey was promoted through the Internet on facebook.com, and by word of mouth.Table 1 Males Females Responses were analyzed to help improve my understanding of how people viewed
48competitive balance. All survey participants were unpaid, and their names were left anonymous.To determine my subject matters interest, my first question was what was their favoriteprofessional sports league? The Five choices that I gave my survey takers where the following:The NFL, The NBA, MLB, NHL, and Other. The results reflected that the NFL was the favoritesport by more then 55% of my population.TABLE 2 25 20 15 10 5 0 NFL NBA MLB NHL OTHER My third question to my survey was to find out exactly why my population gave theresponses that they gave. So I asked my audience what determined their selection, being asspecific as possible. The following three responses, I highlighted because it shows fans enjoy theNFL because of its competitive balance.1) “It is the easiest to follow because of the schedule and it feels every regular season game isworth something. In basketball or baseball a 5 game losing streak does not mean anything. If ithappens in football you‟re probably not going to make the playoffs.”2) “I chose NFL because I love all sports, but NFL is my favorite. The competition is almostequal, each week anything can happen, and one play could define a season for a team.”3) “There is nothing more exciting than the NFL season. Its shorter than other leagues so every
49game is important. Anyone can win any game… and I love it!” My next question had to do with attendance and competitive balance. I asked the surveytakers would they be more inclined to go to a game that they felt had a good level of competitivebalance or a game that they suspected to be a blowout? Results of the question number fourwere a blowout. Nearly 95 percent of all the survey takers said that they wanted the suspense, thedrama, their hard working dollars to go towards a game that they did not know the predeterminedoutcome of. Thus agreeing with NFL competitive balance pioneer Bert Bell.TABLE 3 EVEN BLOWOUT I continued with the theme of how competitive balance plays an integral role between theprofessional sports games and the overall attendance of games. I asked my survey takers inquestion five: Would you go to a game if your team had a losing record? 92 percent of mysurvey takers said yes they would still go to a game if their team had a losing record. I found theresults of question number seven quite interesting to see that only 86 percent of those samesurvey takers would go to a game if their team of choice had two consecutive losing seasons. My gut feeling told me that the two most popular professional sports leagues amongst mypopulation would be the NFL and the MLB. Keeping this in mind I asked my survey takerswhich sport did they feel had more competitive balance amongst its teams The NFL or the MLB?
50The results reflected that the average sports fan doesn‟t believe that the MLB has madesignificant enough strides in achieving competitive balance.TABLE 4 MLB NFL86 Percent of my population said that they felt that the NFL had more competitive balance thanMajor League Baseball. My next question asked do you think that Major League Baseballshould institute a salary cap to promote competitive balance and it was surprisingly almost even.TABLE 5 YES NO52 percent of my population said that they believe that Major League Baseball should institute asalary cap. 47 percent said that they felt that Major League Baseball should not institute a salary
51cap. Please note that I did not specifically state whether it should be a hard salary cap such asthe NFL or a soft salary cap such as the NBA. Within the past five years we have witnessed suspensions, congress hearings, andcountless players testimonies under oath on whether they have or have not used performance-enhancing drugs. Over the past few years all professional sports leagues have tried to clean uptheir image both on and off the field. Public Relations and communications have never been asprevalent as they are today. With this in mind I asked my population to weigh in on performanceenhancing drugs. My ninth question was do you feel that the ban of steroids has had an adverseaffect on competitive balance. I wasn‟t exactly sure how my audience would respond to thisquestion when I asked it. I tend to disagree with the results of my populations answers. 38percent of my population answered yes, and 62 percent answered no. My final question that I posed to my audience is a very simple one. Do you feel thatdynasty‟s have a negative impact on sports? Research has shown that if dynasties existattendance goes down along with ratings in team sports. However according to my survey only14 percent of my audience responded that they felt that dynasty‟s had a negative impact uponprofessional sports leagues. Around 86 percent of my population responded that they felt thatdynasty‟s had no affect on professional sports leagues and their interest level.InterviewErnie Palladino-Following a team as closely as you do on a day to day basis what do you make of the concept of"suck for luck" do you really think coaches, front office executives, and players would actuallylose a game on purpose in order to get a "cant miss NFL prospect"? If so do you think that a
52lottery system should be installed or should the NFLs reverse standings order draft remain intact?A: Suck for luck is a cute idea offered up by frustrated fans. A version of it happens in virtuallyevery city, every year, where a team starts off 0-5 or worse. Sure, the fans say. Dump the last 11games of the season so they can get that first-round savior. Theres just one problem with that.Teams will never dump multiple games. Maybe a team like the Patriots will appear to dump thefinal game of a clinched playoff-bye season by leaving several key starters at home to avoidinjury, but even thats a stretch. These teams always try to win, if only because jobs of headcoaches, players, and GMs are on the line. Besides that, the league keeps a close eye on thingslike dumping to keep the game legitimate. They never admit to it, but football gambling is abillion-dollar business nationwide, and the NFL loves the attention. So they take pains to see thatcoaches abide by injury-report rules the best they can (Belichick in unmanageable, after all) andthat games are played on the up-and-up.I actually see no reason for a lottery system. The whole idea of the NFL is parity and competitivebalance, and what better way than to award draft picks in reverse order of finish. This way, theworst have a chance to advance, and the best can potentially come back to the pack. Back in the1950s, the NFL used to have a bonus picks. Each of the owners would put their hand in a bagand pull out a piece of paper, and the winner would get to make a bonus pick before the firstround started. Thats how the Giants got Kyle Rote in 1951. But thats as close as the NFL hasever come to a lottery pick, and it has no plans to my knowledge of ever following the NBAformat. And just as well. Its a good system the way it is.
53-Having covered the Giants for 22 years do you feel Met Life stadium was built solely becauseof lack of luxury suites in the old Giants stadium? How do you feel PSLs give NFL franchisesthe upper hand when it comes to unshared revenue?A: Absolutely. Even ownership will tell you there was nothing at all wrong with old GiantsStadium. Good structure. Good sightlines. Problem was, not enough luxury boxes, which aremoney faucets for franchises. MetLife has over 100 of those things, rented out to corporationsfor hundreds and thousands of dollars per season. And thats not to mention the PSLs, which isbasically free money for the franchises. Honestly, Im not sure if PSLs are counted as unsharedrevenue under the new CBA. I dont think they are, as that money is supposed to be used to paydown the debts of the new stadiums. But even if they are shared, franchises have made hugehunks of money simply for giving fans the right to buy their game tickets.-With competitive balance being one of the main focuses of the NFLs salary cap, draft order,number of playoff births, standings, and schedule creation process how do you think that theNew York Giants have been one of the few teams to obtain a championship in every decadesince the 1980s?A: It started with good drafting. The late George Youngs picks of Phil Simms and LawrenceTaylor in 1979 and 1981, respectively, set the Giants on the road out of the darkness of the mid-60s to their re-emergence as a playoff team in 1981. Subsequent drafts brought players likeHarry Carson, Mark Collins, Carl Banks, and Jim Burt that created the 1986 championship team.
54A great trade for Ottis Anderson helped the Giants win the 1990 Super Bowl title. Once freeagency came into play in 1994, a great gamble by Ernie Accorsi in signing troubledCarolina quarterback Kerry Collins, literally picking him off the scrap heap, led to a Super Bowlappearance in 2000, And the remnants of Accorsis final two drafts of 2005 and 2006 whichyielded stars like Justin Tuck, Corey Webster, Brandon Jacobs, and Ahmad Bradshaw helpedanother Accorsi first-rounder, Eli Manning, put together a 10-6 season and that magical SuperBowl run in 2007. Of course, free agency helped, but it all started with good drafts.-As the NFL rule have enhanced to protect and promote offensive play in your opinion how haveall the recent rule changes in the past few years affected the construction of an NFL roster?A: I think youre seeing a commitment to draft fast, shifty offensive and special teams players,especially in the later rounds. Lets face it; everybody is getting faster these days. When you canhave a 325-pound tackle coming out of college who can run a 4.9, thats something. So the gameis getting faster, and the rules that encourage offensive play have only made it harder ondefenses. You dont see too many shutdown corners like DarrelleRevis coming out because therejust arent any. To put some of these receivers one-on-one with a cornerback is often suicidal, sodefenses have switched hard to zone and variations of two-deep coverage. Defensive backs andlinebackers cant touch a receiver past the five-yard limit. Pass interference calls are becomingmore common by the game. It has all encouraged a throw-first league, and teams have respondedby stocking up on receivers. Witness the Giants recent drafts which brought them Steve Smith,Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Ramses Barden, not to mention an undrafted pickup inVictor Cruz. All quick (in Bardens case, tall, too), shifty, and fast. See Dallas with Dez Bryant.
55-How do you feel about the NFLs commitment to play games overseas? The concept of takinghome games away from NFL teams and playing them in London & Canada? Do you feel that theNFL will eventually put a franchise overseas? If so do you think it would put those teams at acompetitive disadvantage when it came to signing free agents.A: I dont think any player would NOT sign with a team because of the prospect of playingoverseas. Its dollars theyre worried about, and they dont care if they have to travel. Personally, Icant stand sending these teams to England. Owners are screwing their fans out of home games tomake a big splash where theyre simply not committed to placing a franchise in the near future. Idont think they ever will, unless they intend to start an NFL Europe division. But I dont thinkEurope will support it. It didnt work with the NFL Europe developmental league. They have afollowing in England, but elsewhere its just a bunch of Air Force and Army guys who arestationed over there, hungry for some good old American sports. Not enough to support afranchise. Canada might be the better choice, but again, with the exception of the Bills andperhaps Lions, which are just across the river from Toronto and Windsor, I dont think thered bemuch support. They like the CFL up there.- In the past NFL it has been well documented that owners have threatened to leave there hostcities if renovations of stadiums where not met by the citys subsidization. With Los Angelesbeing available to host an NFL franchise do you think any team is going to move there?
56A: Ive heard Minnesota was threatening. Not sure if their new stadium initiative went through,though. So Im not sure if thats on the table.- What do you think of the idea of an 18 game schedule? Do you think it would have an adverseaffect on competitive balance?A: I dont think it would hurt competitive balance, per se. Theyd all be playing the same amountof games. The plan would be to turn two of the preseason games into regular-season games,which would give coaches two fewer games to evaluate young talent. That could have an adverseeffect on roster composiiton, but that would be a problem all teams would face. What it wouldhurt is late-season performance. You see the amount of injuries happening weekly. Imagine twomore games, played at a higher level than any preseason game. The potential to lose half a rosterin those two last games heading into the playoffs is astronomical, and thats the last thing anyonewants to see -- playoff teams competing with second-string quarterbacks, third running backs,backup D-linemen and such. It just wouldnt make for good postseason play. Butagain, competitive balance is a different conversation. All the teams would have to face thesechallenges. Injuries dont discriminate between teams. So I dont think there would be anyproblem with competitive balance. The rule of thumb today is, the healthiest teams are the onesthat go far in the postseason. That will always remain true.- What has been the biggest change you have scene in your career covering the NFL in regards to