NFL Teams Worth More Than Ever, Yet The League Still Pays No Federal Taxes…

Marc Elliott

SILVER CLIFF… The 2015 National Football League season has kicked off and as usual, since I quit observing this league about 7 seasons ago, and even quit watching my old favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, I can’t offer much insight as to what will unfold over the season from a competition standpoint, but I still view some league matters albeit out of the corner of one usually cocked eye. So a few observations to “kickoff” the new season are in order. Just the other day, to test how completely disinterested I am in the league and their product, I tried to name as many players from the Viking roster as I could, unaided by the internet or anything else.
Now, up until I gave up on the NFL I could rattle off the Vikes roster from top to bottom, naming all players, their jersey numbers, their height and weight and what college they played football at. I failed miserably at this exercise. I named a total of six players. I was actually kind of shaking my head at that. But as I have for several seasons now, I still enter and play the Pro Football “U pickem” contest featured in a Metro newspaper. My luck has been up and down with it. However, at the conclusion of the Sunday evening game I had picked 11 of 14 game winners!
I was laughing at the thought of that. How can someone who pays zero attention to the league pick at that level? I was in 362nd place out of 8520 entrants in the local version. If Philly and the Vikes win tonight I will be off to a nice start at 13 of 16 tilts. But…. It won’t last. I will have my 7 and 9 weeks and 8 and 8 and the stuff will run downhill from there. Or will it? I thought to myself that perhaps I am just in tune with the organizational culture of these teams and that might be a fairly accurate forbearer of how one team might do against another. A local auto magnate once told me that after considering certain tendencies of a team that he will make his final pick based on who the coach is of a particular club and that’s not bad advice. You can’t underestimate the value of a solid, well prepared coach.

In my best year of prognosticating I finished 1500th out of almost 200k entrants in the National contest. (500th of 12k in the Metro part of it) Not bad I guess. But I was paying attention then and I had an excellent playoff and missed only one playoff pick. But if I am not paying attention to anything NFL these days I saw a real eye opener today! Whenever I come across an attention grabbing storyline headline, sometimes known as “click bait” for internet readers, I will give it a quick look. If it is of interest, I will read on. So, the annual Forbes business publication has just published their annual list of NFL Franchise values for 2015. If you are interested in the business of sports they have a section titled “Sports Money” and it features some interesting articles.
In the NFL, United States and the World, the Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable
sports business on the globe coming in at an estimated $4bil with a ‘B’. If I’m not mistaken this might mark the first time the Boys’ have been the MVT in the world. There are a couple of Euro Futbol clubs that have bested them up until now. The article outlines some of how the team values were derived and makes a handful of other business observations. The author is also of the belief that the success of the league will not slow down at any time in the near future.
Obviously the big market teams are of the highest value, but of interest to me was how high the value of some of the small market teams has risen. The Buffalo Bills, who have basically struggled since the end of the Jim Kelly-Marv Levy era were sold last year for $1.4bil. The Minnesota Vikings, and I will have to rely on some memory here, were a startup in 1961 for a total of $600k. $50k went to the league as a franchise fee and $550k went to pay player and personnel salaries. In 61’ there was a group of local businessmen that owned the team and eventually Max Winter took over as principal owner. It gets murky after that with club GM Mike Lynn and a group of investors somehow getting control of the franchise from Winter in the eighties.
They sold out in 1998 to Texas businessman Red McCombs for an estimated $250mil. In 2005 McCombs sold out to current owner Zygi Wild for an estimated $600mil. The recent Forbes piece is indicating a value of $1.59bil and ranks them as the 18th most valuable club of 32. If my cheap little six buck Texas Instruments calculator is correct the team has gone up 2,650 times it’s original value. Holy you know what! This is incredible. In addition, in the case of most of the teams, it would seem to me that little of this value is supported by any tangible, hard assets like property, buildings etc. The Leagues TV contracts and their revenue must somehow be included in these valuations. The story cites equity plus net debt.
Collectively the teams pull in $4.4bil per season in total TV revenues. That is an average of $137.5mil per club.  And readers, I’m just brushing through the heart of the article. If you have any interest in the league and the sport, give it a look. It will show you a league that is awash in revenue. It says unequivocally that every team in the league is a profitable business entity. It also makes mention of a miniscule amount the league says each team should set aside for the concussion lawsuit to be paid out to the injured and maimed men that built this league.
Also getting no mention is that this group of professional money hoarding elites pay no federal taxes on any of these revenues. Not a cent. Courtesy of a sweetheart non-profit tax classification handed to them in the sixties. Non-Profit? Right. USA Corporate “Patriotism” at its best. PEACE