The NFL's Motto: Greed Is Good

Dan BooneSenior Analyst IJune 27, 2008

It ought to be on every stadium plaque and underneath all the endless stats the network's run constantly during games.

It ought to be on players' jerseys and included in every new stadium's corporate name.

At the draft, it should be etched in gold on Roger Goodell's podium.

The owners and players should get it tattooed across their chests.

And it ought to be in big, bold letters across every invoice sent to every long-time fan ordering season tickets.

Greed is Good. Gordon Gekko said that in Oliver Stone's Wall Street, a movie about corporate greed gone mad.

The NFL thinks of itself as the master of the universe. The more greed the better.

$8 beers, $5 soda, $200 tickets, $8 hot dogs, $10 burgers, and $25 parking.

Just pile the charges on the lowest denominators, the building blocks of the franchise's wealth, the folks waiting to be fleeced: the fans.

Just price gouge, baby.

The New York Giants announced that they will join other NFL corporate behemoths by pushing the epitome of NFL greed, the Personal Sect License.

For fees ranging for $1000 to $20,000, fans can buy the right to buy a ticket.

Which will cost thousands more and rise each year.

The New York Jets say PSLs at the 50-yard line will be about $50,000.

Luxury boxes at the new stadium will range from $275,000 to a cool $1,000,000.

And the taxpayers are dropping about another half billion or so in infrastructure improvements.

The bonfire of the vanities still burns bright in Gotham.

PSLs are rather new in the NFL. But they have spread like a bad strain of bird flu.

Chicago Bears fans coughed up $10,000  a seat license. Jerry Jones sold luxury club seats for $150,000 a pop. The Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, and a host of other teams have joined the chase for the money train.

Buy the ticket and take the ride? No, buy the personal seat license first, then the ticket, then take the ride. Sorry sucker, no even break at this carnival.

15 teams gouge their fans with the grossly greedy Personal-Seat-License grab.

Even the Cincinnati Bengals, with the sad product they present, have jumped on the license money-grab.

The NFL leads all other leagues by far. Greed is good. Greed will take you far. It is, after all, morally wrong to let a sucker keep his money.

Bigger stadiums, bigger jets, bigger television contracts, and bigger payrolls.

The only thing able to slay the NFL behemoth is itself. The potentially fatal weapon it wields against itself is greed.

If regular fans, the building blocks of franchises for years, are priced out of the market, the NFL will begin to shrivel and shrink.

Kill the fan, and you kill the goose that laid the golden egg. You kill the goose with greed.

Fans will be disgusted. Children, future customers, will no longer be able to attend over-priced games, at least, certainly not see a season's worth of games.

In the short term, the NFL will reap millions, as fans still fill stadiums. But in the long run, in a depressing economic climate, how much can the league squeeze from the fans until they say no more?

We just can't afford it anymore. We just don't enjoy it anymore.

Drop a couple of thousand to take my kids to a game, or save it for that possible layoff down the lane?

So no, let's not do football games anymore. In fact, let's not watch it anymore.

Maybe kids will see that college football is more fun. Or maybe they'll find something else to do on a Sunday, because to them, the priced-out generation, the NFL will seem elitist. A sport only the chosen few and the massive corporations can afford to attend.

Maybe taxpayers will stop subsidizing billionaire owners and millionaire players, and they'll stop paying for their trillion-dollar playhouses.

Maybe enough is finally enough for the fans. Too much greed is obviously never enough for this league.

Bread and circuses to keep them happy, the old Roman said. But the bread is expensive nowadays, and the circuses are leaving the fans' side of town.

So who are the clowns?

Maybe sometime the center will not hold and something will come slouching back to haunt the league. Something angry, something wronged, something that harms the NFL's prospect for long-term prosperity.

The fans, angry, embittered, and drained dry, will finally go away.

Tired of being gouged. Sick of felonious millionaires being coddled, sick of complaining players and greedy owners. Tired of taxpayer gouging and seat-license robberies.

Not now of course. The NFL will reap its golden whirlwind, for now. Sold out stadiums. Huge television contracts. Dollars rolling in. Greed is not a sin. Greed is, in fact, in.

Perhaps not only pride, but an obsessed quest for dollars, comes before a fall.

Hubris and greed. Old demons, yet deadly.

Madness is badness of spirit, when one seeks profit from all sources, said an old sports fan long ago.

Wellington Mara would have known what he meant.

The new guard of NFL owners? I think not.

Or if they do, they care not.


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