When I sit back and look at the current situation and how both sides are digging in their stances I can’t help but wonder if the system has not reached it’s next level. Today the NFL Landscape is basically 2 parties, the NFL (Owners) and the NFLPA (Players association).
The NFL is the league that was formed by the team owners, which also serves as the de-facto owners association also. The problem is that the NFL has become much more than just the owner’s association, it has evolved into a huge business. This business has blossomed over the past 30years into a 9 billion dollar money machine. There are 3 major stakeholders in this business, the Owners, the players and the fans. All three parties have a big vested interest in the well being of the NFL and its future growth.
As a fan who has invested a lot over the past 20years in this industry, I am so disappointed in the NFL leadership. When I see that ego maniacs like Jerry Jones and Jerry Richardson, making moronic comments that derail the process, I realize that something needs to be done. Their actions are certainly not in the best interest of the NFL, and as a stakeholder I think something needs to change. We need to think outside the box!
In my opinion the NFL should be spun off into a completely separate company, a publicly traded company. I could see the owners creating a NFLOA, which could retain a fairly large share like say 35%, the NFLPA could own an equal amount and then the balance (30%) could be offered in a restricted IPO. This would provide a perfect structure where all three major stakeholders partake in the success of the company. It would also provide equal representation of all relevant stakeholders on the board of directors. A good portion of the proceeds from the IPO would go directly to a retired players fund to help finance medical costs (given that they are the ones that paved the way for all this bounty), the balance could go back to the Owners as an incentive for setting up this structure.
All revenues from normal seat sales would flow back into the NFL and Owners would be able to keep all luxury box seating as well as all concession stand revenues. All TV, Radio & Print revenues would flow into the NFL. All revenues from apparel* & other NFL sanctioned products & events would also flow back to the NFL. A similar salary cap system would ensure a minimum and maximum cap for all teams. The NFL would establish the amount to flow back to the teams to cover a portion of the salary cap. The balance would come from their own coffers. The NFL would be run as a public company and pay dividends to its shareholders. The NFLPA can coordinate distribution proportionate to player salaries and the NFLOA could distribute proportionally as well (proportionate to seats sold).
* Individual players and teams could get a proportionate amount based on their own team/player sales
League minimum salary
I also think the minimum base salaries should be doubled, which would essentially reduce the pool of available money within the cap to pay the superstars. This would go a long way to helping the majority of the players in the league while not having that big of an effect on the superstars. The disparity between the top echelon players and the guys earning the minimum is way too large.
It is also important to establish a Rookie cap in order to preserve a healthy draft process. The other big advantage to establishing a cap would be to ensure that the established veterans receive a equitable share of the overall pool of money available for salaries. Initial contract lengths should be reduced in order to provide rookies with an strong incentive to produce quickly for the big pay day. This would ensure that players get rewarded for actual play on the field and not just draft rank order, which is based on hype and perceived potential.
The NFL would be responsible to cover core expenses such as health & disability insurance, drug testing, etc.
The biggest advantage is that the NFL would be run like a real company and would be built to service it’s 3 major stakeholders. It would greatly reduce the confrontational situations that currently exist in the current model because you would now have representation from all three major stakeholders. Because it would be a publicly traded company, the books would be open to all shareholders. Big Market teams would still make their money but smaller market teams would be way better protected because they’d have an equal share in the NFL pie and fans would also be sitting at the table which could prevent team relocation based solely on big market team greed.
So there you have it folks, my option for fixing the NFL for the foreseeable future. Making it a public company would ensure that all three major stakeholders would participate in decision making. Revenue sharing would be fair and proportionate. Total transparency in related revenue sharing. And major market teams would no longer have a stranglehold over the system.