NFL Jets Chair & CEO Christopher Johnson said he hopes to "have a larger role" with the organization than he did previously when his brother, Woody, returns from his U.K. ambassadorship, according to Brian Costello of the N.Y. POST. Woody is expected to return in '20, and his brother said of an expanded role, "I think [Woody would] welcome that. I know he would. I think I have a new perspective at this point that would be valuable for the franchise after that point.” Costello notes since Woody left last summer, Christopher has "made a seamless transition into the owner’s chair." He "handled the national anthem controversy last season very well, winning over his players." He also "OK’d the trade this March to move up in the draft," which netted the team QB Sam Darnold. Meanwhile, Johnson said that the early returns on ticket sales for this season are "good." Johnson: “They’re well ahead of where we were last year." He said Sunday's home opener against the Dolphins is "trending toward a sellout.” He "limited his comments about the national anthem issue because the NFL has asked owners not to comment on it." Johnson: “I obviously feel very strongly about this, but I’m hopeful that the Players Association and the league will come up with something in the end that respects the players and the fans and the flag" (N.Y. POST, 9/13).
SMOOTH OPERATOR: On Long Island, Bob Glauber writes Christopher Johnson has "deftly fostered a healthy environment in which to work." He is a "hands-off owner on major decisions," and last year "drew praise from his players and coaches for his handling of the controversy over protests during the national anthem." His "patient handling of a team in transition -- there is no playoffs-or-else edict -- has created an atmosphere conducive to building a winning team" (NEWSDAY, 9/13).
The Redskins' approach since the arrival of President of Business Operations & COO Brian Lafemina has "pivoted," as the team has gone from "waiting for ticket buyers to come to them to actively courting them with promotions, incentives and a pledge to serve fans better," according to Liz Clarke of the WASHINGTON POST. Lafemina said, “There is a different type of competition now: The competition for people’s time, for their money, for everything. We needed to -- as an entire league -- really market ourselves, sell ourselves and make our fans understand what the benefits are of coming to an NFL game.” Clarke notes fans attending Sunday’s home opener against the Colts will "notice some of the changes ushered in by Lafemina." The west end zone of FedExField has been "turned into an open plaza -- a communal square, of sorts, for fans to congregate, with 30 high-definition TVs." Meanwhile, Lafemina has "created a department that will use data and analytics to better understand fans preferences, likes and dislikes." There are some "unsold tickets for Sunday’s game," but that comes as the Redskins took a "close look at the number of season ticket holders who appeared to be ticket brokers and were buying the packages primarily to sell individual games to fans of opposing teams." Lafemina said that starting last season, the Redskins "declined to renew season tickets for would-be brokers, taking control of the tickets themselves." He added that as an upshot, the Redskins "now have a larger inventory of seats" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/13). In DC, Matthew Paras notes some other changes for the Redskins this season include a "new mobile ticketing app, craft beer and cocktail stands, increased food options, a new fan zone and 'enhanced' team intros" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/13).
TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT: Redskins CMO Steve Ziff said that he has "heard the message on the radio and around town" that the team and Owner Dan Snyder are "only interested in making money." Ziff: "That was fans' internalization of our decision-making tree, was, 'How do we make money?' Now it's, 'How do we please our fans? How do we be a first-class organization? How do we protect our brand and make it something that means integrity and means class to people? All those things are more important than any decision related to revenue generation." One of those things includes "creating an in-game atmosphere that makes people want to leave home and the comforts of high-def television" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 9/13).
The Red Sox and Nationals "remain the only teams on track" to pay the luxury tax this season, while the Yankees, with a payroll of $192.1M, are "set to finish below" this year's $197M threshold for the first time since the luxury tax was adopted, according to Ronald Blum of the AP. The Yankees have "paid the tax 15 straight years" for a total of $341M. The Red Sox' luxury tax payroll was at $238.4M on Aug. 31, up from $233.9M on Opening Day. The Nationals' luxury tax payroll was second at $203.9M on Aug. 31, an increase from $201.1M on Opening Day. Both figures still "might go up because of earned bonuses and call-ups." The Giants had to "cut luxury tax payroll slightly" from $196.7M to $195.3M since Opening Day. The Red Sox' base tax rate was 30% in '16, but reset to 20% because the team "dropped under the threshold last year." Under the surtax in the CBA that began last year, the rate for the Red Sox rises to 32% on the amount above $217M this year and to 62.5% on the amount above $237M. Because the Nationals "paid the tax last year," their base rate is 30% (AP, 9/12).