It takes money to win, so it is not surprising that some of the most valuable teams in the NFL are also the most successful. This was no more proven than when an outlier proved this theory wrong when Kansas City won the Superbowl. It became clear that the surprise was not that Kansas won but that one of the big spending franchises had not. If you want evidence that the most successful teams are often the wealthiest, then let’s just look at the numbers:
Dallas Cowboys: $5.7 billion
New England Patriots: $4.4 billion
New York Giants: $4.3 billion
LA Rams: $4 billion
San Francisco 49ers: $3.8 billion
Now, let’s look at these teams to see how this wealth equates to success on the pitch or if it just happens that these teams exist in a large market that offers them a huge following.
Here is a team that seems to underperform in comparison to their wealth. They have finished .500 or better in eight of the past 10 seasons but have only made the playoffs once in six years. This season promises a resurgence but their 10 year record only places them sixth in the list of top teams – and after placing 14th in the power listings in 2019, something needs to happen..
New England Patriots
The number one team over the last 10 years, with a record of 136 wins and 34 losses in that time. They have only ever missed the playoffs once in that time. Obviously having Brady as your QB is a massive influence on your stats and likely on your fan following. New England has been out and out the best NFL team over the past decade and it is hard to see who would halt their dominance. You would have to see the 6th place in 2019 as an aberration rather than a pattern – though they have lost an iconic, once-in-a-generation QB – so let’s see.
New York Giants
The New York Giants’ record is nothing more than mediocre over the last decade, giving them a lowly 11th place out of 32 teams. 2017 saw the first time the franchise returned to the playoffs after winning the Superbowl in 2011. Consequently, you could easily argue the team’s wealth is a direct result of being in the large population centre and they are not using their financial strength to make an impact in the locker room. 29th in the rankings in 2019 doesn’t do much to promise anything more from the not so Giants.
But New York is nothing in comparison to the LA Rams, who rank 32 out of 32 for their record over the last 10 years or so. Between 2007 and 2017 they won 5 or less games in each season – a shocking record. It is hard to equate the wealth in the franchise with the performance on the pitch. There is an argument that big city equals big wealth but not necessarily stellar performance.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had a great 2019 and have a talented and, more importantly, young team. They have a great defence but they have not invested in some big names in the offense. The only household name is George Kittle – but they do have a lot of weapons and so do seem to be investing on the on-pitch activity. They have the money to invest in a top pick to boost their chances and push them beyond the 4th place ranking. Fans will be looking to the owners for some sort of move to strengthen the teams weapons – else they are banking a lot on potential.
The financial underdogs
The Jets, Seahawks and Eagles have had comparable financial growth in 2019 and yet only the Seahawks seem to have translated this into performance on the pitch. They ranked 7th in 2019 – compared to 11th for the Eagles and 22nd for the Jets.
Yet, we have to fall back on the example of the Chiefs. They are only 23rd on the list of value, with $2.5 billion – but they did enjoy 9% growth last year, which amongst the highest in the league. Yet, they are in a modest market and they are succeeding beyond expectation.
There is evidence in the Patriots that wealth does matter – and probably means other franchises over perform because of the money they can throw at problems. Yet, it seems that money is not the only determining factor for the successful teams – look at the consistent success of the Packers who won 13 and lost 3 last season, for instance, or the surge of the Baltimore Ravens last year who went 14-2 and ranked top. The Ravens even managed to rest key players and still dominate the season.
We began with the premise that it takes money to win. It seems that is only part of what it takes. While wealth has helped the Patriots, it has done nothing for the Giants. Equally, there are some scrappers who are proving better value for their cash.