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As kickoff nears, stories within the NFL generating talk


There’s never an absence of stories to observe across the NFL, and listed below are a number of that dominate my conversations with sources.

MARKET WATCH: The Chicago Bears’ possible relocation to Arlington Heights. The team signed a $197.2 million purchase agreement for the 326-acre Arlington International Racecourse property. Such a deal isn’t just like the McCaskey family and sure takes them out of their comfort zone. Don’t underestimate the scale and scope of this deal — it’s not only a stadium but an enormous $5 billion mixed-use project rivaling the SoFi Stadium development in Inglewood. However the McCaskeys usually are not Stan Kroenke, they don’t have Kroenke-type wealth, usually are not developers and won’t over-leverage the franchise or the longer term of the franchise. Keep your eye on what sort of financial assistance they get from the state, as they are going to need funding and may have to position this as an actual economic development stimulus driving jobs and growth in a state that will welcome that. … Also, I’m watching the stadium development plans for the Buffalo Bills. I’ve heard early renderings for the planned facility across the road from Highmark Stadium are progressive and daring. The Bills have a lot energy and interest straight away nevertheless it is fascinating to keep in mind that if Andrew Cuomo was still governor and never Buffalo native Kathy Hochul, the team’s stadium plans could have been stuck in neutral.

SUCCESSION TALK: As my colleague Ben Fischer smartly lays out in his comprehensive story (see Pages 20-25), all eyes are on Commissioner Roger Goodell and ownership. When it comes to Goodell, he completed his 10-year labor deal and just about all media deals are set for various years. He’s not going anywhere soon, and why should he? He’s been that effective. He’s still engaged, and most observers don’t see him running to his next profession goal. Although his father was a U.S. senator, politics don’t seem a part of this future and like so many other retirees, he’ll learn you’ll be able to’t golf day by day even in case you’re a member at Augusta National. But sooner or later, the owners need to say, “Yes, Roger has done an important job, but we want to start our succession process.” Remember, their ownership predecessors didn’t have that foresight in 1989 when Pete Rozelle suddenly retired; owners were caught off guard, and it took six months to determine on a successor in Paul Tagliabue. I’ll be watching to see how the method is began — one school of thought floated to me is a two-track approach, with Goodell putting internal candidates through a process and owners quietly hiring a firm to help them in doing a search outside of the league office. There remains to be too little we all know concerning the league’s plans here, but Fischer touches on a number of the names floated as a possible successor.

NEXT GENERATION: The opposite issue that Fischer digs in on is ownership turbulence, and pretty much as good as things are within the league, you could have never seen a time like this. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has few friends amongst owners after the recent league sanctions. Dan Snyder has no allies and has put the league in a terrible position. The PR issues and ownership issues across the Haslams and David Tepper are well-known. So, who’re the longer term leaders to switch Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft and John Mara? Who will step up in those league-first, big-time roles? Clark Hunt could possibly be that influential consensus builder, but has never looked as if it would relish it; Art Rooney has the clout, does the labor, and is clearly listened to, but does he wish to tackle the political skills crucial? Michael Bidwill is one to observe, as he serves on eight committees. Bottom line, the forecast around team ownership and emerging leaders is murky at best.

GAME READY: All of this comes because the game has never been higher. The narrative a decade ago of the NFL’s rapidly declining role and influence in society is clearly behind it, isn’t it? Remember all of the columns and press inches on football losing its hold on fans and declining in interest? Seems those couldn’t be farther from the reality today. Goodell says every 12 months the sport has never been higher on the sphere, but you could have to offer the league credit — it’s true. The existential issue of player health and safety was real 10 to 12 years ago and the storylines were of the NFL getting overtaken by other sports. However the league doesn’t get the credit for stepping in and making massive investments in technology, research and equipment to deal with this. And the talent of Dr. Allen Sills has made an incredible difference in professionalizing the NFL’s approach. Goodell knew in the event that they didn’t address this issue, it will have a trickle-down impact and negatively affect football in any respect levels. He was adamant on rule changes and practice changes that many house owners and coaches pushed back on, but they’ve made an actual difference. He showed true leadership on this area.

Abraham Madkour might be reached at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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