Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport

By Michael Oriard | Go to book overview

4
THE
NEW
NFL

In 1989, when Paul Tagliabue replaced Pete Rozelle, the league took in $975 million in revenue and the average franchise was worth about $100 million. The most recent figures calculated by Forbes magazine in 2006 are $6.2 billion and $898 million (previous year’s revenue, current worth).a For perspective, Forbes noted that the increase in franchise value since 1998 was 11 times the growth of the S&P 500 over that same period.1 The “new NFL” that emerged in the 1990s had three cornerstones: labor peace, television contracts, and stadium revenue. (Leaguewide sponsorships and licensing added a smaller but still sizable pot of money, while favorable tax laws invisibly undergird the entire enterprise.) Labor peace arrived in 1993 after more than five years of litigation following the collapse of the 1987 strike. Ever-richer television contracts arrived with seeming inevitability, as the NFL always managed to have fewer TV packages than networks to bid for them. And the bounty to be extracted from stadium leases and local marketing was a gift to the NFL from its two “rogue” owners. Al Davis won for every owner the right to move his franchise for a better deal or extort generous stadium financing from the local community to keep him at home. Jerry Jones then showed everyone how to make a stadium pay.

Shrewdness, luck, and unintended consequences have all played a part in the new NFL’s prosperity. Davis’s fellow owners fought him in court until they lost completely, then they capitalized on the franchise free agency that he won for them all. Tagliabue understood the entertainment business and stadium

a. Forbes will have released a new set of estimates (in September 2007) at about the time this book appears.

-140-

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Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Creation of the Modern NFL in the 1960s 10
  • 2 - No Freedom, No Football 55
  • 3 - The End of the Rozelle Era 95
  • 4 - The New NFL 140
  • 5 - Football as Product 175
  • 6 - Football in Black and White 210
  • Conclusion 250
  • Afterword 258
  • Notes 265
  • Acknowledgments 315
  • Index 317
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