SI Vault
 
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Ray Kennedy
January 31, 1977
Are they civic benefactors? Or crazy? Or merely rich men with an expensive hobby? Whatever they are, pro sports owners all think they've got troubles
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
January 31, 1977

Who Are These Guys?

Are they civic benefactors? Or crazy? Or merely rich men with an expensive hobby? Whatever they are, pro sports owners all think they've got troubles

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Joy tended to such niceties as meeting the mother of No. 1 draft pick Leroy Selmon at the airport with a bouquet of flowers. She read The Superwives and Pro Quarterback, hoping to "learn by osmosis." A former state golf champion in both Alabama and Florida, she was quick to spot little correlations, especially when she first saw a thing called a punt. "Looks like a good nine-iron shot to me," she said.

Then the season opened. Hoping to break even or better at the gate and perhaps win a few games in the Bucs' first season, Culverhouse reassured himself with a little saying that is his personal motto. "As Louis Pasteur said," he recites imprecisely, "chance favors the prepared."

Final season results. Buccaneers: 0-14. Culverhouse: minus $1.7 million.

Was it Pasteur who said you can't win 'em all?

While winning helps, it is no guarantee that a team will flourish at the gate. Witness the Oakland A's and their successful but lonely pursuit of three World Series championships. Or the Indiana Pacers, who in the ABA's first seven seasons lost less than any other team. On the court, that is; on the ledger, the Pacers dropped $500,000.

Conversely, losing is not all bad. Since they were purchased by Leonard Tose in 1969, the Philadelphia Eagles have never had a winning season. But their profits have nevertheless risen each year, from $412,000 in '69 to an estimated $1.5 million in 1975.

Ed Garvey says, "Most of the NFL owners have made so much more than they expected that they don't want to get involved in negotiations with the Players Association. They don't want to rock the boat. Their average cash flow is $8.5 million a year, and they've been making an average—an average, mind you—of $1.7 million net profit before taxes." Of course, the NFL owners hotly dispute Garvey's figures, claiming that at least four teams finished in the red last season, that the average pre-tax profit was $800,000 and that the profit was that large only because of a $215,000 per team windfall from returned pension contributions. Of course, Garvey has an answer for that, too. "These guys don't want to show a profit," he says, "so what they do is spend it all on the good life."

Tose, a trucking magnate who travels by limo and 'copter, is a high roller. Squiring models and entertaining Jet Setters, he follows the horses at tracks around the country and the sun to Beverly Hills, Acapulco and Nice. In 1969 and 1970, because of the amortization of players, he paid no personal income tax. An involved owner who once charged that his players "lacked character," Tose attends practices, chattering with reporters and dropping comments like, "If the play works here, why doesn't it work on Sunday?"

Playboys or philanthropists, in the red or black, the bottom line on the NFL owners and the Players Association has been the same for three years: no contract.

THE HEIR

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14