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Volume 26 No. 111
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Potential NFL Ownership Policy Changes Could Attract New Bidders

The NFL is "mulling ownership rule changes designed to attract buyers outside of the richest of the rich," as the league is suffering a "dearth of bidders amid skyrocketing franchise values," according to Scott Soshnick of BLOOMBERG NEWS. The move to reexamine the "strictest ownership guidelines in major U.S. sports took on new urgency" after last year's $2.275B sale of the Panthers to David Tepper. NFL guidelines "require that the principal owner put up at least 30% of the purchase price in cash," which makes buying an NFL team "difficult even for billionaires." The NFL has "sought input on possible changes from a quartet of firms that have in various capacities participated in its franchise sales: Allen & Co., Inner Circle Sports, PJT Partners and Proskauer Rose LLP." The league's owners last year "bandied about many ideas, including a bump in the amount of debt a would-be buyer could take on, but they made only one significant alteration: the elimination of the cross-ownership rule that banned owning non-NFL teams in markets containing other NFL teams." There has also been "some discussion about loosening the prohibition against NFL owners also holding stakes in gambling companies" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 9/5).

FOOTBALL IN THE FUTURE: A USA TODAY editorial states it is "far from certain" that football's "grip on the American psyche will last forever." Last year's TV ratings "were good after two soft years." But football has a "big time injury problem, most notably with concussions." Fewer school-age kids are "playing, or even following, the game, and many fans are growing frustrated with the randomness that injuries bring" (USA TODAY, 9/5). USA TODAY's James Murphy noted Andrew Luck's retirement was "one of the more shocking occurrences of the NFL off-season." But NFL football is a "very tough sport that makes tremendous demands of players mentally, physically and emotionally." To use Luck's retirement as "evidence that the NFL has an injury problem is a complete overreaction" (USA TODAY, 9/5).

SCHEDULE CHANGE? In Boston, Christopher Gasper writes expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams is a "silver-bullet solution" to the NFL's preseason problem. It "adds two games to the most meaningful part of the season, it appeals to the players' competitive nature, and it fixes a flawed playoff format that doesn't always produce the most deserving participants." Ideally, the enhanced postseason "would be married to a 17-game regular season with two bye weeks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/5).