NFL owners can learn from Mark Cuban

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Mark CubanMark Cuban celebrates the NBA Title with former Mavs owner Don Carter.

I know there are a lot of people who don’t like NBA Mavs owner Mark Cuban. The guy is passionate, smart, successful, and brash. And yes, he does like attention and he’s a bit of a geek. He turns people off with some of his game time antics. However, the guy won a championship and showed signs of class by dedicating the trophy to the previous owner, Don Carter. His fans and players love him and he won with a team effort (not his wallet) where every little thing had to go right.

As one of my NBA GM friends puts it, “love him or hate him he is determined to win and it vibrates through the whole league”.

By contrast, there are a good handful of NFL owners who may not have a pulse and are far removed from the day-to-day activities of their team, which in most cases is a good thing. There are others who are in the football office spending time going over ledgers and making sure the bottom line is profit, not necessarily wins and championships. To my count, we have about nine teams who put personal profit before the best interests of their fan base. At least six of these teams have publicly funded venues. I’m not saying these ownership groups don’t want to win but I am pointing out these owners may lack the passion and commitment to do so on a consistent basis.

If the NFL is looking for a new owner for one of their struggling franchises they need to have a serious sit down with Mark, or at least take note of his profile. The NFL needs more owners who are passionate about winning and dedicated to giving their fans a top-notch team they can be proud of every year. I would love to see him in LA.

Remember when Jerry Jones came to Dallas as a new owner? He really shook things up in Texas, the NFC East and even the league office by operating in the grey area of the leagues business rules so he could generate more revenue from his stadium. His fellow owners even filed suit against him. It was eventually dropped as he showed them all how to make even more money in their local markets. Owners like Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban are good for professional sports.

Jerry JonesJerry Jones gives his coaches, players, and staff what they need to win and get better.

Speaking as a long time NFL fan and an agent who has a front row seat as to how owners spend their cash, I am concerned that more and more owners are becoming complacent as they get older and their TV revenues and licensing rights income increases. We witnessed several owners shut down spending outside of what they had to spend to keep their teams operating once the NFL opted out of the last CBA. Will more cash coming in make even more of them complacent?

The fact is the NFL fan is financially tapped out come game day. He can’t afford anymore increases for season tickets, parking, the Direct TV package or a ninety-dollar jersey for his/her son and daughter. Furthermore, those owners who have not fielded a playoff team in a decade or more, risk losing a generation of fans. Thus, when that generation becomes parents they will not introduce their hometown team to their children and so on. The NFL has to be careful that they don’t push the fan any more financially because they will push him/her beyond the point of no return. In addition, owners who are not pushing the envelope to get the very best organization in place are wiping out generations of emotional investments by their own fans.

One of the best things that came along with the salary cap is the salary minimum floor; the amount each team is required to spend each year. Currently, the players want this floor to go higher to prevent owners from sitting back collecting TV revenue and not spending it on players. The NFL league office is also okay with a higher floor as well because they want to force complacent owners to also spend on top players and keep the good ones they have.

Any owner who purchased or inherited a team more than 15 years ago is a fat cat today sitting on a revenue producing machine whose value goes up every year. Even though the owners have the right to do what they want with their team, they have to recognize that owning a team should be like managing a public trust. As the tidal wave of revenues start piling up the incentive to win and fill the local stadium could further deteriorate.

Owners like Mark Cuban are obsessed with always fielding a competitive team and finding every edge they can to win while always keeping the fan experience along with their emotional investment in the forefront.

Each and every NFL owner (especially those who received a publicly funded stadium) owes it to their fan base to spare any expense, resources and put all their energy into producing a winner.

Follow me on Twitter: @jackbechta

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