Independent Thinking Blog

Why I’m Not an NFL Owner

You might have read that the Green Bay Packers are selling ownership shares. Which means that, for $250, you can own a share of the franchise. You can’t sell you share (or shares) and it won’t increase in value–but it makes you an owner of the NFL-Super-Bowl-winning franchise that was once coached by Vince Lombardi.

It would look really cool on my LinkedIn profile. But I’m not going to be an NFL owner.

$250 is real money. It maybe buys my next smartphone. It definitely buys lots of pints of beer at the ballpark this spring. But that’s not the problem.

The fine print is.

Ownership has its privileges. And its price.

Page 5 of the Common Stock Offering Document has a clause entitled NFL Rules that reads, in part:

The NFL Rules prohibit conduct by shareholders of NFL member clubs that is detrimental to the NFL, including, among other things… publicly criticizing any NFL member club or its management, employees, or coaches or any football official employed by the NFL.


Which means that, as an owner, I could be fined by the commissioner and/or required to sell my stock back to the organization–for $0.025 per share. (Come to think about it, that’s better than zero. But I digress.) Which means I couldn’t opine about whether Dan Snyder is the worst sports franchise owner since Marge Schott. And I couldn’t tweet that even a 2-year-old has more discipline than the Oakland Raiders. Not to mention that “what’s up with [insert name of player here]” would be off limits.

There’s a point here. And it’s not about American football.

It’s about reading the fine print.

Fining fan-owners of the only public NFL team would be a public relations nightmare. It’s not going to happen (unless someone really provokes it, or behaves in “conduct unbecoming” that defies public mores). But the business reality is that buying into this deal requires limits on your free speech. Not illegal limits–it’s not a 1st amendment issue. But limits nonetheless.

Business is about choices and trade-offs. Before you make your next deal, make sure you understand both.

Photo by Jeramey Jannene (Flickr).

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