April 28, 2017

National Football League Chief Executives

The National Football League (NFL) is an unincorporated nonprofit, trade association composed of and financed by thirty-two member franchises. Its officers include a Commissioner, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Commissioner, who is elected by the affirmative vote of two-thirds or eighteen—whichever is greater—teams of the league, appoints the Secretary and Treasurer and has broad authority in disputes among and between coaches, clubs, employees, and players.[1]

Being the league’s principal executive officer, the Commissioner can hire employees, negotiate television contracts, and discipline individuals who own part or all of a team and anyone employed by teams if they violated the bylaws or committed conduct detrimental to the welfare of the league or professional football. In addition, the Commissioner can, in the event of misconduct by anyone associated with the NFL, suspend individuals and issue a fine up to $500,000, cancel contracts, and award or strip teams of their draft picks.

In extremely egregious cases, a Commissioner may offer recommendations to the NFL’s Executive Committee including the cancellation or forfeiture of a club’s franchise or any other action deemed necessary. He can also issue sanctions such as a lifetime ban from the league if an individual associated with the NFL has bet on games or failed to notify the league of conspiracies or plans to bet on or fix games.

Given their authority, power, and responsibility in leading a popular, prominent, and longstanding professional football organization, this essay discusses the impact, role, and significance of three former NFL presidents and five commissioners including the league’s current commissioner Roger Goodell. Each of them served as the NFL’s chief executive officer during short or long run periods of opportunity, turmoil, and/or success. The first officer became the American Professional Football Conference (APFC)—renamed American Professional Football Association (APFA)—president in 1920 while the most recent leader, Roger Goodell, became NFL commissioner in 2006. In minor and major ways, they and the other six men contributed to the growth of professional football and the prosperity of the league in sports markets across the United States and internationally.

Presidents

Jim Thorpe

Before a season-ending series between the Canton Bulldogs and archrival Massillon Tigers in 1915, Bulldogs general manager Jack Cusack signed the world’s most famous athlete, Jim Thorpe, and paid him $250 a game. Thorpe met Cusack’s expectations of being an exceptional talent and an unparalleled gate attraction. With Thorpe as star and coach, the Bulldogs were Ohio League and unofficial world football champions in 1916–17 and 1919.

While some people exaggerated Thorpe’s exploits, he was a superb athlete. He could run with speed and bruising power, throw and catch passes with the best, punt long distances, and score field goals by dropkick or placekick. In fact, Thorpe demonstrated his ability during halftimes of games by placekicking field goals from the fifty-yard line, turning around, and then dropkicking footballs through the opposite goal post. In addition, he blocked with authority and, on defense, was a bone-jarring tackler.[2]

When the APFA organized in 1920, its charter members elected Thorpe president and Stanley Cofall vice president. During that year, several teams joined the APFA while others finished the season, disbanded, and had their franchises canceled by the league. There were no official standings and clubs played games against nonleague opponents. At a meeting in April 1921, the APFA awarded the 1920 championship to the undefeated Akron Pros.

While his position as president was symbolic and not administrative or managerial, Thorpe played for the Bulldogs in 1920–21 and then the Oorang Indians. In 1922, Walter Lingo purchased the Indians for $100, sponsored it to publicize his Airedale Kennels, and used Thorpe as a player, coach, and to recruit native Indian football players from the U.S. With no home field although based in LaRue, Ohio, the team was entertaining and had colorful halftime shows but disbanded after finishing 1–10 in 1923. After playing for several teams in the 1920s, Thorpe retired at 41-years-old in 1929 while a member of the Chicago Cardinals. In 1963, a committee admitted Thorpe into the Professional Football Hall of Fame located in Canton, Ohio.

Joe Carr

No one better understood the necessity of bringing credibility, discipline, and order to early-day professional football games than Joe Carr, who then was a former Columbus, Ohio newspaperman and manager of the APFA’s struggling Columbus Panhandles. His persistence paid off when the league reorganized in Akron and he replaced Jim Thorpe as president of the organization in the spring of 1921. That year under Carr’s leadership, the league moved its headquarters to Columbus, Ohio, drafted a constitution and bylaws, assigned teams territorial rights, restricted player movements, developed membership criteria for franchises, and established official standings for the first time.  As a result, membership increased from fourteen to twenty-one teams and the Chicago Staleys competed to win the league’s championship.

While president during 1921–39, Carr gave the league stability, integrity, and rigid enforcement. A dedicated, no-nonsense administrator, he strongly felt the public had an inherent right to know the league was operating capably, efficiently, and honestly. After the APFA changed its name to National Football League (NFL) in June 1922, Carr established a standard player contract modeled from one used by teams in MLB. In addition, he cracked down on the hiring of collegians under assumed names. When the Green Bay Packers, a new team in 1921, ignored Carr’s edict, he forfeited the franchise and then renewed it under new ownership a few months later.

In 1925, All-American halfback Harold (Red) Grange stunned the football world by joining the NFL’s Chicago Bears just ten days after his final game with the University of Illinois. Sensing that resentment in college circles would persist if such practices continued, Carr ruled that no NFL team could sign a college player until he completed his eligibility. Any violators would receive a stiff fine and/or loss of their franchise.

Joe Carr recognized that, to survive, the NFL needed teams in large cities. His first target was New York City and, through Joe’s efforts, the New York Giants and Detroit Panthers joined the league in 1925. The 73,000 crowd that turned out at the Polo Grounds later that year to see the Red Grange-led Bears and 75,000 who attended a Bears game against the Los Angeles Tigers in California, proved fans from big cities would support pro football.

For his other achievements, Carr was president of the NFL during the Great Depression of the 1930s when teams barely existed as competitors. To make the league more stable, he worked tirelessly to attract financially capable new owners. In December 1933, Carr arranged for an end-of-year championship game in which the Western Division champion Bears defeated the Eastern Division champion Giants 23–21 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. This event marked the beginning of football’s modern era. However, that year Carr banned African Americans from competing on teams in the league because, in his opinion, whites needed jobs more than did men of color.

Author and researcher Chris Willis, who wrote The Man Who Built the National Football League, believes that Carr was a remarkable leader since he laid a solid foundation of modern professional football during 1922–37. Being “the Henry Ford of the NFL,” Carr was a tireless visionary who rose from his modest Irish upbringing to create one of America’s first traveling football teams, the Columbus Panhandles, in the early part of the 1900s and guided a new professional football league named the APFA during the early 1920s.[3]

With unlimited access to and complete cooperation of Carr’s family and associates—including interviews, personal letters, and photos—as well as NFL minutes at meetings, Willis found Carr to be a diligent and straight-shooting league president who oversaw many achievements sports fans take for granted in the 2000s. These are standard player’s contracts, rules for college recruitment, professional football regulations, players’ statistics, and the creation of two NFL divisions, an NFL draft, and a championship game between winners of two divisions. According to Willis, while professional football has grown to unheard of heights, Carr’s name and accomplishments have been lost and forgotten. Truly, Carr had a fascinating life and total dedication to the game.

Joe Carr was president of the American Basketball League in 1925–28 and served as president of the Columbus Senators’ minor league baseball team during 1926–31. In May 1939, he died at the age of fifty-eight. Because of his important contributions to establishing the NFL, Carr won election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

Carl Storck

Chris Willis, in his biography of Joe Carr, made it clear that Carr had help in building the league. Carr’s able assistant throughout his eighteen-year career was Carl Storck, the owner of the NFL’s Dayton Triangles and the league’s secretary, treasurer, vice president, and eventually its president. Storck was a stout, 250-pound former lineman known for his jovial, friendly nature. After graduating from college in 1917, he joined the hometown Triangles as its assistant manager. When the team’s manager Mike Redelle joined the military in 1918, Storck filled his position. Two years later, he and Redelle bought the team, and Storck attended the APFA’s organizational meetings.

Elected secretary and treasurer of the NFL in 1921, Storck became the Triangles coach in 1922. As the league grew, cities like Dayton became less able to compete against teams from such large places as Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, and Rochester. In fact, Storck’s team won only four games in 1922 and then just four more in his last four years as coach after stars like Al Mahrt and Herb Sies left the team.

After Storck gave up coaching, the Triangles managed just one win in its final three years of the 1920s. He sold his sinking franchise to Brooklyn investors in 1930 but continued to operate a minor league baseball team named the Dayton Wings for ten years. During that period, Storck continued with his unpaid league duties while working as a foreman in the Inspection and Packing department at National Cash Register and then as Assistant Works Manager of General Motors’ Delco Products.

When Joe Carr died suddenly in 1939, Storck became the NFL’s acting president. While team owners generally liked him, they did not consider Storck as a long-term solution as president. In 1940, they stripped away some of his control of game officials and offered the presidency to Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward who turned them down. The next year, team owners rewrote the league’s constitution to create the new, more powerful position of commissioner and offered it to Ward. Again, he refused it but instead recommended Notre Dame coach Elmer Layden, one of Knute Rockne’s legendary Four Horsemen.

During early April of 1941, Storck announced he was leaving his sick bed after seven weeks of suffering from nervous exhaustion to fight the move at NFL meetings. He told reporters, “For fifteen years I worked for nothing. Two years ago when I became president, I didn’t quit my job with General Motors because I was afraid something like this would happen.” The next day, Storck surprised everyone by resigning in the best interests of the league. He did not go quietly, though, telling the Dayton Herald, “I’ll never take orders from a man I do not respect. I am convinced that [Elmer] Layden is not qualified to handle the job, due mostly to his lack of administrative experience in professional sports.” Nevertheless, Layden was steamrolled into his job when George Halas, Chicago Bears’ president, and Arch Ward, Chicago Tribune sports editor, saw an opportunity to put it across. This, of course, was true.[4]

Within two years, disagreements with the league’s powerful George Preston Marshall (owner of the Washington Redskins) led to Storck’s ouster. He was through in professional football, the thing he loved most, and his life was never the same. Storck returned to Dayton as assistant to the works manager at Delco but eight years later—sick and bitter—he retired. He was forty-nine years old. Although he lived eight more years, they were periods far away from executive suites and the excitement and clamor of football stadiums. His health continued to decline and, in 1945, he entered a rest home and never left it. Financial woes added to his physical ones. Finally, Storck was broke. At that time, the NFL had no regular pension fund, and only a special pension voted hastily by franchise members kept the league’s former president from spending his last days in the Montgomery County home.

Carl Storck had a stroke and ultimately died in a nursing home in 1950 at the age of fifty-seven. His family maintained, however, that he died from a broken heart after betrayed by his colleagues in his life’s work. In retrospect, Carl Storck was a significant person who presided over growing the league. Unfortunately, like Joe Carr, he was not destined to savor the burgeoning success of the NFL due to his sudden death. Yet, he was present and active in the creation and emergence of the league and its potential as one of the leading sports institutions in the nation. According to the literature, Storck’s most notable act was refusing to allow creation of the Pennsylvania Keystoners, which was a proposed merger of the Philadelphia Eagles and what would become the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Commissioners

Elmer Layden

After being one of the four Horsemen at Notre Dame in 1922–24, Elmer Layden played in the backfield of such semiprofessional/professional teams as the Hartford Blues, Brooklyn Horsemen, and Rock Island Independents. In 1925–40, he was an administrator with Columbia College in Iowa, Duquesne University, and then Notre Dame. After Carl Storch resigned as NFL president in early 1941, Elmer Layden left his college alma mater to become the league’s first commissioner.

For five years, he led the NFL through instability and uncertainty of the World War II era in which teams had to use athletes of inferior or limited abilities as replacements while most regular players were engaged in military operations somewhere in Europe. During this period, a few NFL teams temporarily merged due to the scarcity of skilled professional football players in America. Most notably, the Pittsburgh Steelers merged with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1943 and became the Phil-Pitt Steagles. However, unlike the Pennsylvania Keystoners idea, which intended to be permanent, the Steagles performed only one year despite winning five or fifty percent of their games. In addition, the Western Divison’s Cleveland Rams ceased to operate in the 1943 season, and the Eastern Division’s Brooklyn Dodgers folded after winning zero games in 1944.

When the war ended, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Dan Topping withdrew his franchise from the NFL to join the new All-American Football Conference (AAFC). When remaining team owners felt that Commissioner Layden was simply too gentle, lenient, and not forceful enough, they did not renew his contract. Thus, he retired in 1946.  Elmer Layden had a successful career in business before dying at 70-years-old in June 1973.

Bert Bell

Born to a prominent family of significant wealth and influence in 1895, Bert Bell was involved with football most of his life. In academics, he transferred from Episcopal Academy to the Delancey School, and then to Haverford School in Pennsylvania where he captained the football, basketball, and baseball teams as a senior. Fulfilling his somewhat predetermined fate, Bell enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania (aka Penn Quakers) in 1914. After a year of freshman football and another on the scrub team, he became the Quakers’ varsity quarterback. Bell was a firebrand and besides playing quarterback, he punted, returned punts, kicked field goals, and played defense. In 1916, the cocky quarterback led Penn to the Rose Bowl.

After serving in France with the 20th General Field Hospital in 1918, Bell returned home to be captain of the Quakers for his final season and then remained at Penn as an assistant coach under John Heisman and Louis Young for nine years. Later, Temple University hired him as an assistant coach for two seasons.

In 1933, Bell and three former Penn teammates acquired the NFL’s former Frankford Yellow Jackets. Since a large city was more attractive as a site for his team than Frankford, Bell moved the Yellow Jackets to Philadelphia and renamed them the Eagles in honor of the symbol of Franklin Roosevelt’s National Recovery Act. Bell became the team’s coach, business manager, publicist, and ticket seller, and single-handedly kept the Eagles afloat until 1940 when he joined Art Rooney as part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Six years later, Bell sold his interest in the Steelers and became NFL commissioner.

As commissioner, Bert Bell was a fearless and tireless leader who guided the league to new heights of popularity. Early in his career, he prepared the NFL for a costly struggle with its rival, the AAFC. Steadfastly rejecting any settlement that would leave the AAFC intact, Bell finally presided over a merger after the 1949 football season that brought the AAFC’s Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and San Francisco 49ers into the NFL.

During his first year as league commissioner, Bell took a strong anti-gambling stance that marked the start of tough conduct codes. Another far-sighted action was his handling of the emerging television industry. Realizing that televising home games would negatively affect stadium attendances and team revenues, Bell formulated a policy to permit the broadcast of only road games to home cities. As such, this protected gate revenues while making previously unavailable away games accessible to fans.

Bell exhibited a rare fortitude when he first recognized the NFL Players’ Association. Confronted by angry owners, he simply referred to the league’s constitution, which permitted him to act on any matter in the best interests of pro football. During October 1959, while watching his former two teams, the Eagles and Steelers, play at Philadelphia’s Franklin Field, Bert suffered a fatal heart attack. The fact he died at an NFL game seemed appropriate for a man who made pro football his major concern in life.[5]

Pete Rozelle

Born during March 1926 in South Gate, California, Alvin Ray Rozelle, nicknamed Pete by an uncle, grew up in Lynwood and played basketball and tennis at Compton High School. After graduating from there, he served in the Navy and part-time on an auxiliary tanker in the Pacific during 1944–46. When the NFL expanded westward in 1946, the champion Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles. They practiced at Compton Junior College, where Rozelle was a freshman. He helped the team’s publicity department and met Rams’ executive Tex Schramm.

After Junior College, Rozelle attended the University of San Francisco (USF), where he became the school’s sports information director. He graduated in 1950 and took a second job as assistant athletic director. Two years later, Schramm hired Rozelle to be the Rams’ public relations director. In 1955, he left there to become partner in a firm that did publicity work for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, but in one year, returned to the Rams as its general manager.

In January 1960, 33-year-old Rozelle became NFL commissioner after seven days and twenty-three rounds of balloting. Someone told him about his election in the bathroom. After emerging, he jokingly told owners, “I come to you with clean hands.” In fact, Rozelle’s selection was a compromise after owners could not agree on two other candidates.

During his thirty years heading the NFL, Pete Rozelle was the premier commissioner in professional sports. A charismatic leader, he guided the league to unprecedented growth. His accomplishments are legendary while the league’s challenges were historical. Specifically, such things as blockbuster television contracts, war with the competing AFL and resulting merger, development of the Super Bowl into America’s premier sporting event, difficult player issues including strikes and threatened strikes, plus numerous court and legislative battles were headlines during his stewardship.

Throughout it all, Rozelle was a dominating factor. His leadership created the profound image of stability and integrity still associated with the NFL. He continually encouraged club owners to work together despite numerous challenges, while always demonstrating a calm, reassuring, strong management style. Indeed, Rozelle convinced NFL franchise owners to share their television revenues equally.

Pete Rozelle retired in 1989 after operating the league nearly three decades. Four years after inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame, which he helped establish in 1963, Rozelle died from a brain tumor. He left a legacy making him the Commissioner of all Commissioners. “Moving the NFL from the back page to the front page,” New York Giants owner Wellington Mara said, “from daytime to prime time.” Following Rozelle’s death, the league renamed the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Trophy in his honor.

Paul Tagliabue

Born in November 1940, Paul Tagliabue was a New Jersey high school honor student and highly recruited basketball player. He received an athletic scholarship from Georgetown University, where he majored in government and captained the 1961–62 basketball teams. In addition, he was president of his senior class and a Rhodes Scholar finalist and Dean’s List honor graduate. Then, Tagliabue attended New York University School of Law on a public-service scholarship, served as editor of the law review, and graduated with honors in 1965.

Tagliabue became associated with the NFL after hired by Washington D.C. law firm Covington & Burling, the league’s principal outside counsel. While working there, he represented the NFL as an attorney in important areas including television, expansion, legislative affairs, franchise moves, labor, and antitrust cases. By 1986, Tagliabue was a full partner with the firm and represented the NFL in the $1.6 billion antitrust lawsuit brought by the United States Football League (USFL). Although the NFL lost the case, the USFL received only $3 million. When the NFL needed a replacement for outgoing Commissioner Pete Rozelle, Tagliabue was a logical choice since he was familiar with the league’s business affairs.

As commissioner, Taglibue built developmental leagues for the NFL. He established the World League of American Football (WLAF), which acted as a training ground for players trying to make NFL rosters. Besides the WLAF and expansion, a major issue for Tagliabue occurred in 1992 when a court ruled that the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with players was invalid because of its anti-free agency rules. As a result, the NFL panicked and that delayed operations of the WLAF and league expansion.

The court’s ruling was only a temporary roadblock, however, because Tagliabue negotiated a new agreement with free agency for players and a salary cap to reach competitive balance. In fact, the WLAF resumed operations and renamed NFL Europe while expansion continued with Charlotte and Jacksonville receiving teams and new stadium deals.

Expansion, however, made other owners jealous and led to franchise relocations that the NFL was powerless to stop. In 1995, for example, the Raiders returned to Oakland while the Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis. That left Los Angeles, the second largest U.S. television market, without a team. Nevertheless, television deals broke records as the NFL signed billion dollar contracts.

In 1996, another action threatened to create turmoil when Cleveland, Ohio vowed to fight the NFL to prevent the Browns from moving to Baltimore. Tagliabue stepped in and negotiated a compromise in which Cleveland would get an expansion team and a new stadium funded by the league but keep the Browns history. Subsequently, the Browns organization moved to Baltimore and established a new franchise there. The need for new stadiums caused the Oilers to shift from Houston to Nashville in 1997 and thus make NFL franchises and cities that hosted them to form valuable partnerships.

After the Browns resumed play in August 1999, the league expanded again to be an even thirty-two teams. Originally, plans were to locate a team in Los Angeles. When Tagliabue could not broker a deal between feuding politicians in Los Angeles, the NFL awarded an expansion team to Houston, which presented a flawless bid to begin play in 2002.

Paul Tagliabue’s final year in office was important, in part, because he succeeded to transfer a healthy league in 2006 to his successor, Roger Goodell. Indeed, Tagliabue secured a new multiyear billion-dollar television contract and then he continued the NFL’s long lasting labor peace by negotiating a deal with the NFL Players Association that let the league keep its salary cap and revenue sharing plan.

Roger Goodell

Born in 1959 in Jamestown, New York, Roger Goodell graduated from Pennsylvania’s Washington & Jefferson College in 1981 with an economics degree. During 1982–86, he joined the NFL as an intern in New York, worked for the New York Jets in public relations and administration, returned to the NFL as a public relations assistant, and served as an assistant to American Football Conference president Lamar Hunt. In the 1990s, Goodell was the NFL’s director of international development and club administration, vice president of operations and business development, senior vice president of league and football development, and an executive vice president of business and football development, business properties, and club services.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue appointed Goodell an NFL executive vice president and chief operating officer in December 2001. Among his duties was president of NFL Ventures Inc., which oversees the league’s business units including media properties, marketing and sales, consumer products, international, stadium development, special events, and strategic planning. In addition, he managed the league’s football operations and officiating departments.

Since replacing Paul Tagliabue and becoming commissioner in 2006, Roger Goodell accomplished many projects. According to NFL Media, he has been involved in expansion, realignment, stadium development, and international development. In addition, Goodell played a key role in launching the NFL Network, and negotiating the league’s television agreements and a collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association. While commentators describe him as the most important person in sports, Goodell sees his primary duty as protecting the NFL shield and integrity of the game and making the sport safe.

Summary

Three presidents and five commissioners contributed to the growth and prosperity of the NFL. The least significant of them was Jim Thorpe while the most important include Joe Carr and Pete Rozelle. Although Commissioner Roger Goodell has led the league to even greater success, there will be difficult problems, financial challenges, and important decisions in the future for him and his executive staff.

 

Notes


1. For NFL commissioners and football history, see Tod Maher and Bob Gill, eds., The Pro Football Encyclopedia: The Complete and Definitive Record of Professional Football (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1997), 2008 NFL Record & Fact Book (New York, NY: Time Inc. Home Entertainment, 2008), Frank P. Jozsa Jr., Football Fortunes: The Business, Organization and Strategy of the NFL (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010), and the website www.sportsecyclopedia.com (17 June 2013).

2. Of mixed French, Irish, and Sac and Fox Indian heritage, Thorpe was born in a one-room cabin in Oklahoma. When he was sixteen-years-old, he joined Indian youth in Pennsylvania. Excellent at every sport he tried, Thorpe had his greatest fame by winning the decathlon and pentathlon events at the 1912 Olympics, only to have his medals taken away because of money paid to him to play minor league baseball (the medals became Thorpe’s posthumously in 1982). Although Thorpe played six seasons of major league baseball, football always remained his favorite sport. See “Jim Thorpe: The World’s Greatest Athlete,” www.cmgww.com (17 June 2013), and “Hall of Famers: Jim Thorpe,” www.profootballhof.com (17 June 2013).

3. According to one reviewer, “This is a solidly documented and well-written book about a little known man who played a key role in one of the United States’ main cultural institutions. I was surprised to learn about all the activities and roles that [Joe] Carr played in the development of professional sports in the early decades of the twentieth century.” The book is Chris Willis, The Man Who Built the National Football League (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010).

4. This commissioner’s life is in John Maxymuk, NFL Head Coaches: A Biographical Dictionary, 1920–2011 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012), and “Carl Storck,” www.profootballhof.com (17 June 2013).

5. A native of Irvington, New Jersey and graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Austin Gunsel joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1939. He served as both J. Edgar Hoover’s administrative assistant and a special agent for the Bureau, and during his crime-fighting career, served in New York, Detroit, and Chicago field offices. In 1952, the NFL hired Gunsel to head the league’s investigative department, a decision made in response to Commissioner Bert Bell’s fear of a scandal damaging the league’s image. Gunsel became league treasurer in 1956, holding the post until his retirement ten years later. When Bell died in late 1959, Gunsel replaced him as interim commissioner. In January 1960 at a meeting of NFL owners, he was the early frontrunner to become the league’s permanent commissioner. After twenty-three ballots, however, Los Angeles Rams General Manager Pete Rozelle won the election. As such, Austin Gunsel served as president in the office of the commissioner and not permanently elected to the position by team owners. For more information, see “Austin Gunsel,” www.sportsecyclopedia.com (17 June 2013), and “History Story: Austin Gunsel,” www.profootballhof.com (17 June 2013).

 

College Football Business

During August-September of 2012, Springer will publish College Sports Inc.: How Commercialism Influences Intercollegiate Athletics. Produced and distributed as a ‘SpringerBrief,’ it contains seven chapters and includes a Foreword and Acknowledgements, and an Appendix, Bibliography, and Index. Besides the Introduction in Chapter 1 and Conclusion in Chapter 7, the other chapters have contents that focus on Intercollegiate Athletics, Sports Finance, Department of Athletics, Student Athletes Environment, and Sports Events and Facilities. In addition, tables with business, economic, and sports-specific data reveal periods and types of athletic programs in schools of higher education.[1]

Regarding football, College Sports Inc. shows how financial support from local, regional, and national businesses and such groups as corporate foundations, cultural and social enterprises, and alumni make a difference in the quality and quantity of schools’ football programs as a member of Division I, II or III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Furthermore, it examines cost and revenue streams of these programs and denotes why trends in commercialization will continue to change and impact the operation, popularity, and future of college/university sports. The following is an overview of topics primarily in football as discussed in Chapters 2–6.

 

Intercollegiate Athletics

Although difficult, expensive, and risky to operate as a sport, football is usually the most lucrative, popular, and publicized athletic program on campuses of U.S. colleges and universities who sponsor a team that participates in a division of the NCAA. Across three NCAA divisions, the number of schools with football teams increased by approximately 31 percent, or from 497 in the 1981–82 college sports season to 650 in 2011–12. Between these periods, the change in numbers of sponsors represents a decline from 4.2 to 3.5 percent as a proportion of total sports teams. This occurred, in part, because of Title IX legislation and thus the growth of women—and perhaps other men—sports.

Although criticized by several well-known professors, prominent university presidents, and some sports reporters, commercialism has become an important trend since the early 1980s among athletic conferences and their schools especially in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS or former Division I-A) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS or former Division I-AA). In response to the proposals of critics, the NCAA wrote, adopted, and implemented various reforms that have marginally improved ethics of athletic directors and operations of their programs but not necessarily the conduct of football coaches and academic performances of student athletes. Based on my research of intercollegiate athletics, school officials need to truly enforce NCAA rules and aggressively penalize anyone who violates them but also accept and control the expansion of commercialism in football.

 

Sports Finance               

During Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, FBS teams had almost four times the median amount of generated revenue than those in men’s basketball. Meanwhile in net revenue (or profit), football’s median amount exceeded basketball’s by more than 300 percent while amounts of other NCAA team sports were actually a negative net revenue or a net loss. For schools in conferences of the FCS and in Division II, however, their football programs ranked last with the most negative net revenue of all team sports. In other words, a relatively small number of universities with big-time football programs earned enough income from gate receipts and television broadcasts of their games, and in distributions from their conferences, to offset total expenses.

Other interesting aspects of sports finance are schools’ and/or conferences’ media and television rights deals, and their revenue from football’s bowl games. Recent variations in these amounts ranged, respectively, from $74.5 million for Louisiana State to $112.5 million for Nebraska in media rights; from $37 million for Conference USA (multisport) to $4 billion for the Big Ten (basketball/football) in television rights, and in bowl game payouts, from a total of $3.3 million for the FCS Conferences, Notre Dame, Army, and Navy combined to $115.2 million for the Big Six Conferences. These distributions, In part, reflect how games and tournaments in regular seasons and postseasons have contributed to college and university sports programs and groups of them from a financial perspective.

 

Department of Athletics

In most American colleges and universities, the Department of Athletics (DOAs) consists of an Athletic Director (AD) who prepares budgets and supervises other administrators, and sports coaches and their staffs. Since the late 1990s, former business executives and managers with financial experience have gradually replaced men and women with college degrees in physical education to become ADs at major schools.

During 2010 to 2011, for example, the three most popular positions in DOAs among men were assistant and associate directors of athletics, and then sports information directors. Among women, the positions were administrative assistants, academic advisors/counselors, and senor women administrators. Of total departmental personnel in schools that period, men ADs were five percent of the group and women one percent. Consequently, men tended to rank higher than did women in the hierarchy of DOAs.  

Other data provided specific financial information about DOAs of schools and/or athletic conferences. For the 2010–11 Academic Year, the University of Texas’ DOA ranked first with totals of $150 million in revenue and $125 in expenses while the University of Alabama and Penn State each earned $31 million in net income. In total compensation the median salaries and benefits of football coaches in the FBS was highest at $3.5 million followed by $1.4 million for coaches of men’s basketball programs. Moreover, from FY 2010 to 2012, the average budgets of DOAs were largest at Big Ten schools and then at those in the Southeastern Conference and Big 12. In short, ADs have become more business oriented as leaders while DOAs are increasingly valuable to colleges and universities based on the growth of their assets, financial investments, and resources.

 

Student Athletes Environment

According to NCAA reports for selected sports seasons, the number of Student Athletes (SAs) playing football on schools’ teams increased by 5,000–7,000 in each division between 1990 and 2010. In fact, there were more football players than the total number of athletes who competed in baseball, basketball, and several minor sports. Because football generates thousands or millions in revenue for schools, the sport has the most SAs in it. Besides that data, the Appendix in College Sports Inc. contains tables that list the number of SAs by race and gender in football and other team sports in NCAA Divisions I, II and III.

In different ways, commercialism influences SAs who participate on football teams of schools particularly those in the FBS and FCS conferences. Indeed, these players receive athletic scholarships, financial aid, and perhaps stipends and other benefits from their schools. As discussed in Chapter 5 of College Sports Inc., some SAs struggle academically and unfortunately never graduate with an undergraduate degree. As a result, a number of college and university officials including faculty, ADs, and coaches suggest methods to compensate football players based on their contribution to the sport. Therefore, the chapter evaluates models that analyze the economic benefits and costs of this issue since pay-for-play involves commercialization of SAs.

 

Sports Events and Facilities

Besides baseball’s College World Series and basketball’s March Madness in postseasons, football’s series of bowl games each December to January are popular events among sports fans but also exist as commercial activities. That is, they determine a national champion and final rankings of teams, and generate revenue for the NCAA and its conferences and their schools, specific television networks, and any companies that market products and/or services during them.

Although 70 or 64 percent of Division I-A football teams played in bowl games to conclude the 2010–11 college football season, the NCAA and groups of conference commissioners and school presidents jointly agreed to establish a four-team playoff following the 2014 college football season. If commercially successful, the playoff will appeal to the media, receive support from sports fans and communities, and generate revenue for schools due to ticket sales and expenditures for merchandise and memorabilia at the games.

The primary facilities in football are private or public stadiums for college/university regular season games. These venues are increasingly costly to build, operate, and renovate. In Chapter 6 of College Sports Inc., there is information about the naming rights of stadiums and amounts of money needed to finance their construction and/or renovation. During future years, schools will further commercialize their facilities and thereby increase the revenue from them because of inflows from advertisements, contracts with vendors, gate receipts at home games, naming rights, and parking fees.

 


1. For the website with ISBN of College Sports Inc., see www.springer.com/economics/labor/book/978-1-4614-4968-3.

 

Frank P. Jozsa Jr. was a professor of economics and business administration at Pfeiffer University from 1991 to 2007. He is the author of ten books on professional team sports.              

 

Economics of NFL Stadiums

In a 2002 study titled “Representative NFL Stadium Public/Private Partnerships,” Horrow Sports Ventures reported the estimated total costs, lease terms, and any public and private contributions, cost overruns, and referendums associated with 22 football stadium projects. Although there were likely changes of each project’s costs, terms, contributions, overruns and referendums if implemented, the study revealed valuable information about potential investments in existing and new NFL venues.¹

In Chapter 4 of my book Football Fortunes, I provided various data regarding NFL stadiums such as when these facilities opened, home teams’ average attendances and win-loss results, and amounts, years, and expiration dates of naming rights. Thus, anyone who reads the chapter understands why and how these stadiums influenced, in different ways, the strategies, operations, and financial success of respective NFL franchises as businesses and their on-the-field performances as competitors especially at home games.

While sports fans attended pro football games or watched them on television including wild card and divisional playoffs and each conference championship and then the Super Bowl, there were reports and rumors about new or planned stadiums for the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers. Consequently, for my perspectives regarding the economics of NFL stadiums, I created Table 1. As such, it contains interesting characteristics of teams’ home sites based on an article published in Forbes and readings in other sources. To that end, what do Table 1 and the literature reveal about the home venues of 32 clubs in America’s most popular and prosperous professional sport?

Table 1
Characteristics of Stadiums, NFL Teams, 2011

Team Name             Stadium                 Capacity  Cost  Value   Owner
Arizona Cardinals     U of Phoenix Stadium      63,400   395    100  Public
Atlanta Falcons       Georgia Dome              71,228   210     72  Public
Baltimore Ravens      M&T Bank Stadium          70,107   220    151  Public
Buffalo Bills         Ralph Wilson Stadium      73,079    22     88  Public
Carolina Panthers     Bank of America Stadium   73,504   248    144  Team
Chicago Bears         Soldier Field             61,500   630    138  Public
Cincinnati Bengals    Paul Brown Stadium        65,500   334     90  Public
Cleveland Browns      Cleveland Browns Stadium  73,300   300    115  Public
Dallas Cowboys        Cowboys Stadium          100,000 1,200    437  Public
Denver Broncos        Sports Authority Field    76,125   401    137  Public
Detroit Lions         Ford Field                65,000   440     65  Public
Green Bay Packers     Lambeau Field             73,128   295    132  Public
Houston Texans        Reliant Stadium           71,054   449    198  Public
Indianapolis Colts    Lucas Oil Stadium         63,000   719    136  Public
Jacksonville Jaguars  EverBank Field            67,246   145     73  Public
Kansas City Chiefs    Arrowhead Stadium         76,600   375    133  Public
Miami Dolphins        Sun Life Stadium          75,540   115    147  Private
Minnesota Vikings     Mall of America Field     64,126    55     50  Public
New England Patriots  Gillette Stadium          68,756   325    262  Team
New Orleans Saints    Mercedes-Benz Superdome   69,703   336    184  Public
New York Giants       MetLife Stadium           82,500 1,400    204  Public
New York Jets         MetLife Stadium           82,500 1,400    177  Public
Oakland Raiders       O.co Stadium              63,132   100     48  Public
Philadelphia Eagles   Lincoln Financial Field   69,144   360    181  Both
Pittsburgh Steelers   Heinz Field               65,050   281    134  Public
San Diego Chargers    Qualcomm Stadium          70,000    28    102  Public
San Francisco 49ers   Candlestick Park          69,734    25     80  Public
Seattle Seahawks      CenturyLink Field         67,000   360    137  Public
St. Louis Rams        Edward Jones Dome         66,000   248     63  Public
Tampa Bay Buccaneers  Raymond James Stadium     65,908   169    134  Public
Tennessee Titans      LP Field                  69,143   292    132  Public
Washington Redskins   FedEx Field               85,000   251    337  Team

 

Note: Team is self-explanatory. Name reflects recent naming rights of stadiums. Capacity is thousands of seats. Cost includes amounts for the construction and renovation of stadiums in millions of dollars. Value is the portion of an NFL franchise’s market value attributable to its stadium, in millions of dollars. Owner of a stadium may be a public entity such as a city, commission, county, district, metropolitan authority, state, a private investor or investment group, and/or a team. The Philadelphia Eagles and City of Philadelphia jointly own Lincoln Financial Field.

Source: Michael K. Ozanian, Kurt Badenhausen, and Christini Settimi, “NFL Team Valuations 2011,” www.forbes.com, cited 10 January 2012.

 

First, the average capacity was approximately 70,700 for 31 NFL stadiums in 2011. They ranged in seats from 61,500 for the 88-year-old but renovated Soldier Field in Chicago to 100,000 for the relatively new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. Besides Soldier Field, another small, old facility was 46-year-old O.co Stadium (formerly Oakland-Alameda Stadium) for the Raiders in northern California. Interestingly, 12 or 38 percent of all stadiums opened during the 2000s while a few others expanded in size by adding thousands of club seats.

Second, construction costs and renovations combined equaled less than $60 million each for four NFL stadiums. These were 52-year-old Candlestick Park in San Francisco, 44-year-old Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, 39-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, and 29-year-old Mall of America Field (formerly named HHH Metrodome) in Minneapolis. In contrast to them, owners of such stadiums as Lambeau Field, Arrowhead Stadium, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (formerly named Louisiana Superdome) each received millions in taxpayer money for renovations.

Third, Forbes estimated and ranked the market valuations of NFL franchises and published them online in an article dated September 2011. These estimates consisted of specific values due to (a) the Sport (revenue shared among teams) and each football franchise’s (b) Market (city and market size), (c) Brand Management (promotion and marketing), and its (d) Stadium.

In column five of Table 1, I list the value in millions assigned to each NFL franchise’s stadium. Because of such amenities as types of leases, numbers of suites, prices of premium and club seats, advertisements, sponsorships, vendor contracts and special business deals, the most lucrative among the group are Cowboys Stadium and FedEx Field. Furthermore, there were five or 16 percent of NFL stadiums whose value exceeded their cost. This occurred, for example, for Dan Snyder’s Redskins franchise in Landover, Maryland where new additions at FedEx Field were two video scoreboards, 1,000 parking spaces, and club-level party decks. Meanwhile, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently established a partnership with the New York Yankees and Goldman Sachs in a profitable stadium operation venture named Legends Hospitality Management.

Fourth, as denoted in column six of Table 1, different publics primarily owned 27 or 87 percent of NFL stadiums in 2011. These included such cities as Cleveland and San Diego, counties as Erie in New York and Hamilton in Ohio, and states as Georgia and Louisiana. Indeed, the majority of NFL franchises had to negotiate a lease agreement and thus pay rent to occupy their home-site stadium if a public organization owned it.

In sum, stadiums are truly economic assets that contribute in many ways to the current and future market value of NFL teams. Therefore, during the 2010s, franchise owners like Carolina Panthers’ Jerry Richardson and public organizations will allocate resources and finance improvements to upgrade and perhaps significantly renovate their football venues for more revenue and to entertain fans while they attend home games of the league.²

 

¹Horrow Sports Ventures, “Representative NFL Stadium Public/Private Partnerships,” Mimeograph (12 September 2002): www.sandiego.gov/chargerissues/pdf/horrow.pdf.

²See Steve Harrison, “New Look? Or New Stadium,” Charlotte Observer (22 August 2010): 1A, 7A.

 

NFL Fan Cost Index

In two tables within Chapter 3 of my book Football Fortunes, there is some financial information about American sports leagues and their teams. One table contains these leagues’ Fan Cost Index (FCI) and Average Ticket Price (ATP) for 10 years (or seasons) beginning in 1991, while the other table denotes the FCIs of all NFL teams during this period.

A sports marketing publishing company named Team Marketing Report (TMR) prepared and listed this data, which I read online and then copied from the company’s website. To my knowledge, TMR is the only business organization in the world that publishes this type of information each year from surveys of sports leagues and teams, and statistics from media reports.

As developed by TMR, a FCI consists of four average ticket prices, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking fee for one car, two game programs, and two least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps. As such, it measures what a family of four sports fans spent for tickets and other items to attend a regular-season game played by professional baseball, basketball, football, and hockey teams of specific leagues.

In the following tables, I list two different types of data: Table 1 provides the FCIs, when calculated and available, of four leagues for alternate sports seasons and these seasons’ averages during the 1990s and early 2000s, and Table 2 indicates costs of seven items in the NFL’s FCIs and their season totals. To be consistent across sports leagues and seasons, amounts in tables appear in rounded even or odd dollars and not fractions of dollars. For example, the NFL’s FCI was $151 per game in 1991 while the costs of two programs for a family of four were equal to $6 or $3 per program.  Based on this information, what do these tables reveal about trends and the expenditures of fans at games?

 

Table 1

Fan Cost Indexes, by Sports League, Selected Seasons

 

Seasons

League  1991  1993  1995  1997  1999  2001  2003  2005  2007  2009  2011
MLB       76    90    97   105   121   145   148   164   176   196   197
NBA      141   168   192   214   266   277   261   267   281   289    NA
NFL      151   173   206   221   258   303   301   329   367   412   427
NHL       NA    NA   203   228   267   274   256   249   282   300   326
Avg       NA    NA   174   192   228   249   241   251   276   299    NA

 

Note: The leagues are Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL). Amounts are in nominal (unadjusted for inflation) United States dollars. Avg is the average FCI each season except in 1991, 1993, and 2011. NA means FCIs were not available from TMR for these leagues. 

Source: Team Marketing Report, a company based in Wilmette, Illinois, that organizes and reports the FCIs of these sports leagues and their teams.

 

According to Table 1, the percentage growth in FCIs ranged from a high of 183 percent for the NFL (1991–2011) to a low of 60 percent for the NHL (1995–2011). This large difference in percentages between the leagues indicates, in part, that NFL teams and vendors of beer and other items sold at games had relatively more pricing power and demand for their products from fans than their counterparts did in the other leagues.

Second, MLB’s FCIs increased throughout seasons while the other three leagues had their FCIs decline in 2003 relative to 2001, and the NHL in 2005 relative to 2003. Simply put, these changes occurred primarily during the early 2000s because of an economic recession in America, decreases in consumer confidence and thus spending due to higher unemployment and underemployment in the labor force, and declining prices in stock markets.

Third, differences in their FCIs significantly increased after 1999 between the NFL and other leagues. Indeed, NFL teams in regular-season games and playoffs became increasingly competitive within divisions of conferences, and therefore they were very popular among sports fans and the broadcast and print media. In addition, there were various scandals associated with athletes and other problems in MLB and the NBA, while a player’s strike and owner’s lockout cancelled a season in the NHL. In short, these reasons reveal why FCIs increased in dollars in the NFL more than in other leagues during the 2000s and likely in sports seasons of the 2010s and 2020s.

 

Table 2

Total Cost of Items in FCIs, NFL Games, Selected Seasons

 

Seasons

Item         1991  1993  1995  1997  1999  2001  2003  2005  2007  2009  2011
Tickets (4)   101   114   136   150   182   215   211   234   268   300   309
Beers (2)       6     7     8     8     9    10    11    12    12    13    14
Drinks (4)      6     7     9     9     9    11    12    13    14    16    17
Hot Dogs (4)    7     8     9    10    11    12    13    14    15    17    19
Parking (1)     6     6     7    10    11    14    14    15    17    24    26
Programs (2)    6     7     9     9    10    11    10    10    10    10     9
Caps (2)       19    24    28    25    26    30    30    31    31    32    33
Total         151   173   206   221   258   303   301   329   367   412   427

 

Note: Like FCIs, prices of items are in nominal (unadjusted for inflation) United States dollars. According to TMR, the average number of items a family of four fans purchased at an NFL regular-season game appears in parentheses.   

Source: Team Marketing Report, a company based in Wilmette, Illinois, measures the costs of these items each season for sports leagues and their teams.

 

Regarding the data listed in Table 2, there were interesting changes among specific items in the NFL’s FCIs. One, football teams’ ATP rose by $208 or more than 200 percent from the 1991 to 2011 season, and as a proportion of their total FCIs, they increased from 66 percent in 1991 to 72 percent in 2011. For sure, NFL franchises charged fans higher ticket prices for general admission to home games but also for premium and club seats, and any seats in skyboxes and suites in their stadium.

Two, there were major changes besides ticket prices in the costs of other items for fans who attended NFL games. From the most to least amounts in 1991 to 2011, they were $20 or 333 percent for parking, $14 or 74 percent for caps, $12 or 171 percent for hot dogs, $11 or 183 percent for drinks, $8 or 133 percent for beers, and $3 or 50 percent for programs. Interestingly, these six items were $50 or 34 percent of the NFL’s FCI in 1991 and $118 or 28 percent in 2011.

If trends in costs continue as they did in the 1990s and early 2000s, a family of four will pay approximately $800 to attend an NFL game in 2031. Of that amount, four tickets to one regular-season game will average $636. In response to these prices, a number of football fans living in such metropolitan areas as Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. may decide to buy fewer beers and other items when they attend home games while other fans will simply subscribe to the NFL Network and see their teams perform on television or the Internet.              

 

NFL Business Overview

In a study of the NFL that Jake Fisher completed while enrolled in an economics class at Harvard University, the author provides a business model of this popular and prosperous American football organization, and therewith discusses its marketing strategies, team (franchise) values and such financial data as revenues, operating expenses, and profits. Based on variables contained in the model, this professional league’s economic success occurs primarily because it centrally generates and equally shares national revenue streams from the media and merchandising, controls the distribution and quality of its product and thus stabilizes consumer demand for football, allocates risk proportionately among 32 franchises, restricts the long-term growth in players’ compensation, and maintains competitive parity.[1]

To denote some real-world consequences of the model, since 1998 Forbes magazine reports information about the business of the NFL and financial facts of its various franchises. For example, staff writer Kurt Badenhausen researched the economics and operations of the league and its teams during early-to-mid-2011 and then reported his results in September of that year in an article titled “The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams.” The following are important highlights of Badenhausen’s research.

First, the average NFL team was worth approximately $1.04 billion. In fact, teams’ estimated market values ranged from $1.85 billion for the Dallas Cowboys to $725 million for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Furthermore, 15 (or 46.8 percent) of the 32 football clubs had values greater than $1 billion.

Second, from 2010 to 2011, the values of 19 (or 59.4 percent) NFL teams increased while 8 (or 25 percent) decreased and 5 (or 15.6 percent) remained the same. More specifically, the greatest increase in value was 10 percent for the New York Giants with the steepest decline in value equaling 5 percent for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Third, relative to their debt/value ratios, the largest ratio was 61 percent for the New York Jets with the smallest being 2 percent for the Green Bay Packers.

Fourth, franchises averaged $261 million in revenue for the league’s 2010 season with the Cowboys ranked first at $406 million and the Oakland Raiders ranked 32nd at $217 million.

Fifth, NFL clubs averaged $30.6 million in operating income that season. These amounts varied from $119 million for the Cowboys to a $7.7 million operating loss for the Detroit Lions. In short, the differences in dollars across the league reflect how the league’s teams performed financially both as a group and individually during the period.

As sports enterprises, what are the reasons that caused NFL franchises to realize different amounts with respect to their estimated market values and annual changes in values, debt ratios, revenues, and operating incomes? Besides their performances in regular season games and perhaps later in the playoffs and Super Bowl, and expansion in the size and purchasing power of their fan base, these reasons included such factors as capacities of their stadiums and prices of club seats, personal seat licenses, suites, and general admission at home games.

Meanwhile, other factors were monies teams received from advertising, merchandise deals, naming rights, partnerships and sponsorships, and any payments from revenue sharing. Undoubtedly, these factors and amenities from playing home games in relatively new or renovated stadiums contributed to improvements in the earnings of the New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Indianapolis Colts in the American Football Conference, and to the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and New York Giants in the National Football Conference.

During the next decade, the NFL is likely to become more powerful and wealthier from a business perspective and therefore continue to dominant professional sports in America. Indeed, the league signed a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association that, in part, increases franchise owners’ share of revenue from 49 to 53 percent. Moreover, between 2014 and 2022 the league will receive approximately $28 billion from television contracts with the FOX, CBS, and NBC networks and additional billions in broadcast revenue from DirectTV, ESPN, and Westwood One Radio. Consequently, NFL teams must share about $6 billion each season in media fees beginning in 2014.

Despite the league’s current popularity and lucrative business prospects, Green Bay Packers Chief Executive Officer and President Mark Murphy identified some potential problems in an August 2011 interview with Matthew Kaminski, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board. According to Murphy, there are five major problems. One,  concerns about the safety of the game and long-term effects of concussions and other serious injuries to teams’ players; two, concerns that bad or negative publicity in the media about safety and injuries may scare parents and thus cause their children and teenagers to ignore the game and not play football; three, an increase in ethical problems like recruiting scandals and cheating by coaches and other officials in college football programs; four, almost zero growth of participation in the sport among the Hispanic population living in America; and five, the league’s limited success to expand the game abroad especially in Asian and European countries.

In future essays, I plan to analyze a number of specific topics about the business, economics, and history of the NFL and/or the operations of college football. For more details of franchises as business organizations and competitors in the league, see Chapter 3 in Football Fortunes: The Business, Organization and Strategy of the NFL published by McFarland & Company, Inc. in 2010.                    


[1] Fisher, Jake I. “The NFL’s Current Business Model and the Potential 2011 Lockout.” Student requirement for Economics 1630: The Economics of Sports and Entertainment, Harvard University, May 2010.