Thursday, May 6, 2010

NATIONAL FOOTBAL LEAGUE - AMERICA

National Football League

Fact File:

􀀹
Founder: Ralph Hay, George "Papa Bear" Halas, Jim Thorpe, and

others.

􀀹
Distinction: Reshaped professional sports and associated

businesses.

􀀹
Primary business: Overseas individual franchises, general

merchandising and marketing.

􀀹
Annual Sales: $3.27 billion.

􀀹
Number of Employees, League : 150

􀀹
Major Competitors: Major League Baseball, National Basketball

Association, National Hockey League.

􀀹
Commissioner: Paul J. Tagliabue; President and COO: Neil

Austrian.

􀀹
Headquarters: New York N.Y.

􀀹
Year founded: 1920.

􀀹
Website : www.nfl.com

It may be hard to believe now, but the National Football League

wasn't much when Pete Rozelle took the reins in 1960. Although it had


 

(3) of (12)

been around for 40 years, the NFL was a distant second to the college

game in terms of fan support. Its 13 franchises were worth an average of

just $2 million each. Television right for all games sold for an

underwhelming $4.65 million. Two clerks and one temporary employee

comprised the entire workforce at league headquarters. Baseball was still

the undisputed national pastime.

Rozelle, a 33-year-old public relations executive, was general

manager of the Los Angeles Rams when he was named the NFL's sixth

commissioner. He had bit plans when he assumed control, and in less than

a decade, he realized most of them. He first renegotiated the league's

national TV contract, which brought the games into many more homes and

considerably boosted its income and its profile. He then engineered a

merger with the upstart American Football League that unified the

sport's warring pro factions and created a dynamic 26-team alliance with

franchises in major cities from coast to coast. He convinced ABC to

broadcast a national "game of the week" every Monday evening,

establishing an event that became one of the most popular of all regular

programs on television. And he initiated a season-ending championship

contest that came to be called the Super Bowl.

Things didn't always go as smoothly for Rozelle or the league, of

course. Big-time labor battles, highly publicized contract disputes, serious

injuries that ended careers and put popular players in wheelchairs,

inappropriate (and even criminal) behavior both on and off the field,

owners who surreptitiously moved established franchises to new cities in

the dead of night—these were just a few of the unfortunate episodes that

marred the NFL's otherwise impressive performance as it evolved through

its second 40 years. But no one could deny that the league emerged from

this period as the dominant sports organization in the world. Or that Pete

Rozelle, who retired in 1989 and died in 1996, was primarily responsible

for the way it irrevocably changed both professional athletics and the

enormous business that it has become.

The game that's now played in the NFL began in the latter half of

19th century as a rough-and-tumble combination of other sports. It is

generally acknowledged that the first true match in the United States was

played in New Jersey. In it, Rutgers defeated Princeton, 6 to 4—although

the differences between that 1869 contest and those held today are

actually as numerous as the similarities. Play was exceedingly fierce (like

rugby), and the winner was the one who scored the greatest number of

goals (as in soccer). There also were 25 players on each side, who could

advance the ball only by kicking it or butting it with their head. A variety of

similarly bizarre regulations held sway in the games that followed, until

standardized rules were instituted in 1873. An intercollegiate schedule was

drawn up at the same time for the teams from Princeton and Rutgers, as

well as those from Yale and Columbia. The distinct American version of

football now known began to solidify soon after.

The early game's extremely violent nature contributed to dozens of

serious injuries, and even some deaths. This prompted President Theodore

Roosevelt to call in 1905 for immediate and far-reaching changes in its

play. A subsequent drive to increase safety and more closely monitor

competition resulted in information of the National Collegiate Athletic

Association (NCAA), which also initiated the post-season bowl games

that remain popular to this day. A move to establish professional teams

already was underway, with the first surfacing before the turn of the

century. The NFL was founded at Canton, Ohio, in 1920 as the American

Professional Football Association. Part of its eventual success must be

attributed to the fact that Jim Thorpe, the distinguished Native American

athlete, was selected as its first commissioner. Before the NFL, teams

really didn't last too long.

The league's current name was adopted in 1922 by Joe Carr,

Thorpe's successor. Carr held the top spot until 1939 while teams like the

Akron Pros, Columbus Panhandles, Frankford Yellow Jackets, and Staten

Island Stapletons came and went. Carl Strok followed as commission for a

single year; he was replaced in 1941 by Elmer and owner Bert Bell took

over in 1946, the advents of television finally helped league officials bring

their sport to the masses. Bell remained the boss until his death in 1959,

when Pete Rozelle came aboard. It was then that professional football as

we know it today really arrived.

When Rozelle entered the fray, the NFL had two conferences with a

dozen total franchises: the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns,

Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, Chicago

Cardinals, Baltimore Colts, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, San

Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Los Angles Rams. The year he took

control, the Cardinals were moved to St. Louis and Dallas was awarded a

tem; another in Minneapolis, was added in 1961. Many more cities around

the country wanted to get in on the burgeoning action, however, and a

rival league had sprung up in 1959 that was far stronger than any of the

insurgents that came before. And while the NFL initially tried to ignored

these upstarts, the so-called American Football League began to make

inroads into its previously exclusive territory with teams in Boston, Buffalo,

Denver, Houston, New York, Oakland, Dallas, and Los Angeles. By the time

the L.A. team was moved so San Diego and the one in Dallas was shifted

to Kansas City, the AFL was worrying Rozelle and his peers.

For a time, the NFL refused to even recognize its new rival's

existence. But when the two leagues began aggressively bidding for top

players, the resultant financial competition threatened profitability on all

sides. Rozelle, in what would become one of his two greatest moves,

understood the implication and started working toward a merger that was

announced in 1966 and consummated in 1970. In what proved to his other

great move, he initiated a championship game between the leaders of

each league that kicked off on January 15, 1967. With its name taken from

a then-popular hard rubber child's ball that bounced incredibly high when

thrown to the ground, the Super Bowl was born.

Since the NLF and AFL were considerably unequal in terms of talent

at the time, nobody expected much that first year. They weren't surprised,

either. Played in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the inaugural match was quite

unlike anything that came before (or since, as observers were soon to

learn). The highest priced ticket was just $12, but about one-third of the

stadium's 95,000 seats still went unfilled. CBS and NBC both broadcast the

clash, paying a mere $1 million each for the rights. And even before Vince

Lombardi's Green Bay Packers finished demolishing the Kansas City Chief's

35-10, fans turned away with a yawn.

That was soon to change. By the time Broadway Joe Namath

guaranteed (and then delivered) a victory for his AFL New York in Super

Bowl III, the Roman numerals used to differentiate the annual events no

longer seemed falsely imperious. The Super Bowl had become a national

preoccupation, and football a national religion. Rozelle built upon that in

everything he did, from marketing his stars to merchandising related

products. And it worked. When the league recently negotiated a new fiveyear

TV contract with CBS, it pocketed $2.5 billion—more than 500 times

what it realized from Rozelle's first broadcast contract in 1961. Franchises

jumped even higher in value. Magnificent new arenas were built across the

nation to accommodate them. And cities without teams were soon

competing with one another for new franchises as well as those that grew

disenchanted with their existing homes. New rivals like the Untied States

Football League sprung up, but throughout it all the NFL and its franchises

continued to grow stronger.

Stirrings of labor unrest in the NFL first surfaced in 1970 and 1974,

when player boycotts during the preseason caused a few changes (added

money to the pension fund and better fringe benefits such as insurance)

and helped them organize. After the NFL signed a $2 billion five-year TV

deal in 1982, players resentful of the increasing revenue streams pouring

only to owners demanded 55 percent as their share; the owners refused

and the first work stoppage in league history followed, canceling 98 games

over eight weeks. The settlement included significant increase in player

salaries, but the owners were able to fight off their demand for a fixed

percentage of team income.

With the issue unresolved, the NFL Players Association struck again

during the second week of the 1987 season, canceling 14 games and

bringing on the debacle of briefly using replacement players to resume the

season (an ignominious period in American professional sports history that

was resurrected fictionally in the recent movie called The Replacements).

The ending this time was acrimonious at best and an antitrust suit filed by

the players was one result. Negotiations eventually led to the 1993

Collective Bargaining Agreement between players and owners, which

among other things featured the initiation of free agency (making the NFL

the last major pro sports league to grant it) and a salary cap (that would

come into being once player costs for all teams reached 64 percent of

designated gross revenues). The cap was triggered the following season

and has been in effect ever since. Growth has pushed it higher each year,

from $34.6 million per team the first year to a projected $68 million in

2001 (up from $62.2 million in 2000). While it has raised the average

salary of players and kept owner profits high, it has forced "creative"

payroll structuring and resulted in a lot of generally equal teams with a

couple of highly paid superstars and a huge mass of moderately

compensated supporting players. It has also made football free agency the

least effective of the major sports, and, critics charge, made the game less

fun to watch.

Under Paul Tagliabue, the commissioner since Rozelle retired,

another kink in the league's armor may b the off-field behavior of some of

its athletes. Former great O.J. Simpson is undoubtedly the most notorious

accused (but not convicted) of murdering his ex-wife—but that happened

long after his playing days were over. Other more recent acts, including

the substance abuse and charges of violence that have been filed against

current players, may prove more problematic if they turn fans off to the

game and influence the advertisers who now pay as much as $67,000 per

second to advertise during the Super Bowl. But if the fact that hundreds of

thousands are now willing to pay the average cost of $45.63 to see a

game in person, and tens of millions more are fanatical about parking

themselves in front of a TV set every Sunday afternoon, the health of this

not-for-profit behemoth seems assured for many years to come.


 

Quickies

The National Football League (NFL) is the largest professional

American football league in the world.

Started in 1920, the league currently consists of thirty-two teams from

the United States.

Divided evenly into two conferences — the American Football

Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC), and each

conference has four divisions that have four teams each.

The National Football League was the idea (1918) of legendary

American Indian Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe, player-coach of the

Canton Bulldogs, and Leo Lyons, owner of the Rochester Jeffersons,

a sandlot football team. In August 1920, at a Hupmobile dealership in

Canton, Ohio, the league was formalized, originally as the American

Professional Football Conference, One month later, the league was

renamed the American Professional Football Association. On June

24, 1922, the organization changed its title a final time to the National

Football League.

In recent years, the NFL has expanded into new markets and ventures

outside of the United States, beginning with a regular series of exhibition

games known as the American Bowl, then with a European based

developmental league culminating in the now defunct NFL Europa, and

starting in 2005 the league began hosting regular season games outside

the United States, the first in Mexico City, Mexico, and then from 2007

hosting games London, England, and from 2008 in Toronto, Canada.

After 100 years of football influence in Mexican territory, in 1998 NFL

opened a representation office in Mexico, called NFL México, as the NFL

identified Mexico as a key market outside the United States due to

proximity and tradition. The Mexican office handles sponsorship, licensing,

detail dealers, sport culture, broadcasting, public relationships and

community service.

The Pro Bowl, the league's all-star game, has been traditionally held on

the weekend after the Super Bowl. The game was played at various

venues before being held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii for 30

consecutive seasons from 1980 to 2009.

The 2010 Pro Bowl will be played at LandShark Stadium, the home

stadium of the Miami Dolphins and host site of Super Bowl XLIV, on

January 31, and the first time ever that the Pro Bowl will be played

before the championship game.

The NFL consists of thirty-two clubs. Each club is allowed a maximum of

fifty-three players on their roster, but they may only dress forty-five to

play each week during the regular season. The league has no full-time

teams in Canada, although the Buffalo Bills play one game per year in

Toronto. Most teams are in the eastern half of the United States;

sixteen teams are in the Eastern Time Zone and ten others in the

Central Time Zone. Most major metropolitan areas in the United States

have an NFL franchise, although Los Angeles, the second-largest

metropolitan area in the country, has not hosted an NFL team since

1994.

The Dallas Cowboys are the highest valued American football

franchise, valued at approximately $1.6 billion and one of the most

valuable franchises in all of professional sports worldwide, currently

second only to English soccer club Manchester United, which has an

approximate value of $1.8 billion at current exchange rates.

Since the 2002 season, the teams have been aligned as follows:

American Football Conference:

East Division Teams: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England

Patriots, New York Jets

North Division Teams: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals,

Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

South Division Teams: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts,

Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

West Division Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Oakland

Raiders, San Diego Chargers

National Football Conference:

East Division Teams: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia

Eagles, Washington Redskins,

North Division Teams: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay

Packers, Minnesota Vikings

South Division Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New

Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

West Division Teams: Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, San

Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks

Annually, the Super Bowl often ranks among the most watched shows of

the year. Four of Nielsen Media Research's top ten programs are Super

Bowls.

Under the current television contracts, which began during the 2006

season, regular season games are broadcast on five networks: CBS, Fox,

NBC, ESPN, and the NFL Network.

Nationally televised games include Sunday night games (shown on

NBC), Monday night games (shown on ESPN), the Thursday night

NFL Kickoff Game (shown on NBC), the annual Dallas Cowboys and

Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day games (CBS and Fox), and beginning

in 2006, select Thursday and Saturday games on the NFL Network, a

wholly owned subsidiary of the National Football League.

Each NFL team has its own radio network and employs its announcers.

Nationally, the NFL is heard on the Westwood One Radio Network,

Sports USA Radio Network, and the Dial Global-Compass Media

Sports Network and in Spanish on Univision Radio and the United

Stations Radio Networks.

In October 2006 the NFL announced the league would fully operate

NFL.com, including the development of the technology, infrastructure and

editorial content. Launching its first major redesign since 1999 in August

2007, the site had been previously produced and hosted since 2001 by

CBS SportsLine. It is estimated that the contract cost CBS $120 million

over a five year period. Prior to CBS, ESPN.com produced and hosted the

NFL site.

Announced in March 2009, NFL.com received its first-ever Sports

Emmy nominations, which earned recognition for its NFL.com LIVE

coverage of NFL Network's Thursday and Saturday Night Football

(Outstanding new approaches, coverage) and its Anatomy of a Play, a

short-form 360-degree analysis of key plays of the week.

Player contracts and compensation:

NFL players are all members of a union called the National Football

League Players Association (NFLPA). The NFLPA negotiates the

general minimum contract for all players in the league. This contract is

called the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and it is the central

document that governs the negotiation of individual player contracts for all

of the league's players. The current CBA was originally scheduled to expire

at the end of the 2012 season, but in 2008 the owners exercised their

right to opt out of the agreement two years early.

Players are tiered into three different levels with regards to their rights to

negotiate for contracts:

􀂃
Players who have been drafted, and have not yet played in their first

year, may only negotiate with the team that drafted them. If terms

cannot be agreed upon, the players' only recourse is to refuse to

play ("hold out") until terms can be reached. Players often use the

threat of holding out as a means to force the hands of the teams

that drafted them.

􀂃
Players that have played three full seasons in the league, and whose

contract has expired are considered "Restricted Free Agents". They

have limited rights to negotiate with any club.

􀂃
Players that have played four or more full seasons in the league, and

whose contract has expired, are considered "Unrestricted Free

Agents" and have unlimited rights to negotiate with any club. Teams

may name a single player in any given year as a "Franchise Player",

which eliminates much of that player's negotiation rights. This is a

limited right of the team, however, and affects only a small handful

of players each year.

Salaries:

A player's salary, as defined by the CBA, includes any "compensation in

money, property, investments, loans or anything else of value to which an

NFL player may be awarded" excluding such benefits as insurance and

pension. A salary can include an annual pay and a one-time "signing

bonus" which is paid in full when the player signs his contract.

Minimum Salary for League Year

Years of exp 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

0 $295,000 $310,000 $325,000 $340,000 $355,000

1 $370,000 $385,000 $400,000 $415,000 $430,000

2 $445,000 $460,000 $475,000 $490,000 $505,000

3 $520,000 $535,000 $550,000 $565,000 $580,000

4 - 6 $605,000 $620,000 $635,000 $650,000 $665,000

7 - 9 $730,000 $745,000 $760,000 $775,000 $790,000

10 + $830,000 $845,000 $860,000 $875,000 $890,000

2 comments:

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