Last week, after the NFL announced it was suing Cowboy owner Jerry Jones, his team and Texas Stadium for $300 million in retaliation for Jones's independent marketing deals, New England owner Bob Kraft floated a compromise that could keep the league out of court.
Kraft would permit each team to market its own logo, while keeping 50% of the proceeds and depositing the other half in a league pool. Each team would be assigned a merchandising quota, based on market size, that would have to be reached before a club could then dip into the league pool for its one-thirtieth share of the proceeds.
For example, let's say Green Bay—the NFL's smallest market—is assigned a $1 million marketing quota. The Packers might license their logo to a cheese company for $300,000 a year, to a paper company for $500,000 a year and to a supermarket and a department store for $100,000 apiece. Having attained the mandated $1 million figure (of which they would keep $500,000), the Packers would then be entitled to receive their share of the league pool. How much would that be? Jones and Kraft, who made his own deal with Pepsi in August, believe that with each team aggressively marketing itself, the pie would be far greater than the $90 million that the 30 clubs will divvy up this year. Say the figure is $120 million. The Packers would reap an additional $4 million for a total of $4.5 million.
What does Jones think of this?
"Make the split 60-40, just like the gate-share agreement we have now, and I'd like that," he said.
Kraft pushed his idea last week, but he wasn't getting far with the owners. And that's a shame. Last week they were calling Jones irresponsible and reckless, but to not consider the Kraft plan would be the same.
The most surprising development of this young season may be that the two expansion teams look like—well, expansion teams. The Jaguars and the Panthers had more picks in the college draft (14) than past first-year teams had, and they were able to purchase some competent free-agent talent in a market that did not exist before 1994. But Carolina, which had a bye on Sunday, and Jacksonville, which lost 24-14 to the Packers, are a combined 0-7, and, if anything, they seem to be getting worse.
The Panthers have been outscored 62-13 in their last six quarters, and the Jaguars have been hopeless in their two most recent outings, a 27-10 loss to a bad Jet team on Sept. 17 and Sunday's defeat by the Pack, in which the offense gained 18 yards in the first half. The preseason was filled with optimistic predictions about the new teams—Jimmy Johnson said that one of them might finish at .500, and I thought that Carolina would win five games—but Johnson and I overlooked two big factors: 1) The expansion teams have lousy offensive lines.
2) They have no playmakers. While both teams corralled some good defensive players, they filled their offensive rosters with marginal skill players and linemen who were either untested or unwanted by the other 28 teams (chart).