Has The NFL Franchise Peaked In Value?
NFL Football is going full throttle right now. America’s most popular game is on TV three days a week with a Sunday night game on for desert. Fans bury themselves in their iPhones adjusting their fantasy teams almost daily if not hourly. In most cases many of these fans are in multiple leagues. Sixteen is the most I ever heard one individual was in. And now legalized gambling in New Jersey has opened up a brand new activity for many. On the field of play coaches and teams are still trying to find a way to dethrone Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the league’s best franchise. Yes the NFL is going full throttle like an unstoppable machine. But can this continue at the same pace? Twenty years ago I never heard of the term CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is the disease we have been hearing about the last few years. Constant repeated head trauma that NFL, college, high school and even youth players may eventually result in this CTE. The symptoms are horrible and may include memory loss, impaired judgement, aggression, depression, anxiety and even suicidal behavior. There was a recent Boston University study that found some form of CTE in deceased NFL players in 99% of them. Players are now recognizing the long term risks that is the trade off of living the life for anywhere from 2-10 years (more in many cases) as a rock star then dealing with something that only gets worse. This study comes a couple of years after the 2015 movie Concussion which also made people aware of what constant head trauma can do.
Even though the NFL seems to print money at will for their owners, one must ask is this the peak time to sell an NFL franchise? Look at the team I follow the New York Jets. In 2000 Woody Johnson bought the Jets for $635 million, the third-highest ever paid for a professional sports franchise at the time. Some thought Johnson paid $100 million too much but now the Jets are worth $2.85 billion according to Forbes. And this with one of the worst performing teams. With the players bigger, stronger and faster, the league has toned down training camp contact. Even during the regular season the whistles seem to be used quicker than ever before as team owners are concerned about losing their stars. Friends of mine have been complaining to me for a few years that the NFL is becoming too much like two hand touch. And now with players taking their own stand with regards to the Star Spangled Banner, the NFL is losing some fans.
A Dr. Robert Cantu who is known in some areas as “America’s concussion doctor” has recommended that kids under the age of 14 should not be involved in collision sports. Youth and even high school participation in tackle football has gone down while at the same time flag football participation has gone up. I’m not a lawyer but I would guess that there will be more lawsuits, injuries and more detailed studies of head trauma. With this and all the news about CTE, I would be a seller of an NFL franchise right now rather than a buyer.
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