Posts Tagged ‘New England Patriots’

Bounty-full: Financial Implications of NFL’s Ruling on Gregg Williams’ Bounty Program

When the New England Patriots were found guilty of videotaping opponents’ signals in 2007, the NFL punished the Pats with a then-unprecedented penalty: a $500,000 fine to Bill Belichick, a $250,000 team fine and the forfeiture of the squad’s first round draft pick in 2008.

With news that former Saints’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams instituted a bounty program in which he paid players to injure opponents, punishment is imminent for the Saints. The question is how much will the penalty be? Some are calling for Williams to be banned from the league while insisting the team get docked draft picks. Some suggest this crime is worse than the Patriots’ “Spygate” fiasco.

The punishment — whatever it may be — could impact the league for the next decade, or longer. Since Commissioner Roger Goodell took over in 2006, he has pushed for increased player safety. Goodell has had no issue levying fines against reckless hits, drawing the ire of players across the league. The Saints action flies right in the face of Goodell’s initiative, so it would seem this is the ideal opportunity for Goodell to lay a heavy punishment. Many say this could be the NFL’s most-significant ruling.

If the NFL comes down hard on the Saints it stands to reason that everyone — except the Saints and their fans — will be satisfied. However, if Goodell does not dole out the appropriate punishment it could sever the relationship between the league and its players. It took nearly the entire summer for the league to end its lockout after players and owners grappled over money. The players union took exception to the league’s proposal of an 18-game schedule, arguing it only put player safety in greater danger. Should Goodell and the league take it easy on the Saints it would prove the theory that the league cares more about its image than player safety.

Players won’t forget this when the next collective bargaining agreement comes up for renewal, and it’s likely the fans would side with the players on the matter. Perhaps then players would get a bigger slice of the revenue pie. It seems clear the NFL must make the Saints pay now, or it will be paying later.

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All Eyes Watching: Why Super Bowl XLVI Will Set Viewership Records

The NFL hit it big this weekend with the Patriots and Giants winning their respective conference championship games to reach Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. League officials would never admit it but this was the match-up they were salivating over.

Why? Well consider the storylines. The Giants seem to have channeled their 2007-08 predecessors, turning what was a mediocre regular season into a late season stampede through the NFC playoffs as an underdog. In that season Big Blue shocked the football world by defeating the league’s only unbeaten team — you guessed it — the New England Patriots, in an unbelievable finish. (Disclaimer: If you’re a Giants fan, proceed to click the link. If you’re a Patriots fan just keep reading, unless you enjoy torture).

Now the Patriots have a shot at redemption (sort of) against the same foe that stripped immortality from them in Super Bowl XLII. Even those who know little about football know of the upset four years ago, and that alone should compel casual fans to watch.

Next, think of the big name players who headline the game, Brady and Manning (no, not that Manning). Tom Brady has long been a superstar of the sport, and Peyton’s little brother has elevated his game to an “ELIte” level. These established names, as well as new ones such as Cruz, Nicks, Gronkowski and Hernandez give the game some sex appeal.

Now throw in the fan bases and markets. The Giants and their mostly New York audience helped set TV ratings for the NFC Championship Game as high as they’d been in 17 years. The Patriots meanwhile have the benefit of the entire New England region to back them, and their run of success in the last decade has kept fans interested.

Of course the Super Bowl would draw big numbers regardless of who was playing in it. In fact last year’s Packers-Steelers Super Bowl was the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history. A grand total of 111 million people saw Green Bay win its fourth Lombardi Trophy, up from the 106.5 million who saw the Saints derail the Colts the year prior. The trend is all part of football’s dominance of American culture.

All of this will make for a wildly popular Super Sunday, but there’s one final puzzle piece which well put viewership over the top: online streaming. For the first time in Super Bowl history, the NFL and NBC Sports will allow the game to be streamed live on laptops, smart phones and tablets. This will undoubtedly expand viewership totals to new levels, and is why many predict this will be the most-watched Super Bowl ever.

God Save the Rams: NFL Franchise to Play a Game in London For Next Three Years

Could the NFL’s St. Louis Rams soon become the London Rams? The London Lambs perhaps?

Sam Bradford may want to familiarize himself with Wembley Stadium.

Big news dropped today from the league that the Rams will move one home game for the next three years to Wembley Stadium in London.   Next season’s game will be played Oct. 28 between the Rams and the New England Patriots.

The shift across the pond is nothing new. The league’s first regular season game outside the U.S. came in 2005 when the Cardinals and 49ers met in Mexico City, and every year since 2007 two teams have played a game in Wembley.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been keen on expanding the sport internationally, and once even hinted a Super Bowl could be played in London.

What makes this move interesting is that rather than having two teams randomly selected to play overseas, the Rams chose to move games to London with approval from Goodell. Unlike sports like baseball, basketball and hockey, football has a schedule of only 16 games per season, which means each team hosts eight home games. That allows teams only eight games to earn revenue through ticket sales, concession sales, game-day merchandise, parking, etc. Now the Rams, and more specifically the city of St. Louis, only has seven true home games through 2014.

Though the NFL is hugely popular, believe it or not there are some squads struggling through rough financial times, and the Rams are one of those teams. This past season the Rams finished 27th out of 32 teams in attendance, selling out only 86.3 percent of tickets in the Edward Jones Dome. Conversely, nine teams were at or above the 100 percent threshold of stadium capacity this season. The Rams finished 2-14 this season, tied for the worst record in the league with the Colts.

As Mike Sando of ESPN astutely points out, the fact that next season’s London game will feature the Patriots is a major blow to St. Louis. Though the Rams are struggling in attendance, the attraction of having Tom Brady and one of the league’s most exciting and successful teams would likely help boost ticket sales for the game. Now that the game is in London, however, St. Louis loses out on this possible revenue.

The news just dropped this morning so there will likely be reaction from across the league, but there are lots of things to consider: Could the Rams be relocating to London? I say probably not, but if the games draw huge fans like they have in the past then it would only add fuel to the fire. Could the Rams be relocating elsewhere (read: Los Angeles)? Very good chance of this I believe. It’s no secret the NFL would like to re-establish itself in L.A. Ironically, the last team in Tinseltown was the Rams, who moved out in 1995 at the same time the Raiders moved from L.A. to Oakland. In August, the city of Los Angeles unanimously approved a plan to build a $1.2-billion stadium.

The Rams will have a chance to leave St. Louis after their current lease with the Edward Jones Dome runs out in 2014. Don’t be shocked if the Rams, like Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis,” set off on a journey toward a new destination.

Photo (cc) by Dave Herholz and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.