Thursday, November 04, 2010

How ‘bout them Cowboys?! – Losers these days


NBC’s Sunday Night Football has been a ratings winner since the start of the current National Football League season. In fact, it has been the highest rated program each week since the NFL season started eight weeks ago. With the NFL season reaching the half-way mark this weekend, NBC’s Sunday night game features the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. Will America watch the Cowboys Sunday night that is the 1-7 Cowboys on Sunday night? Despite owning the second worst record in the NFL, the Cowboys might be an embarrassment on the football field but off the field they remain the strongest brand in the NFL and one of the strongest brand names in sports today.

Forbes annual NFL franchise valuation did not surprise anyone when the Jerry Jones’ Cowboys had the highest appraisal value of any NFL franchise at $1.8 billion. Consider that Jones purchased the Cowboys for $150 million in 1989 and the return on his investment has been staggering. According to Forbes, the Cowboys brand name has a value of $208 million, fourth highest behind Manchester United, the New York Yankees and Real Madrid.

Forbes gives Jones most the credit for the value in the franchise’s brand name but when it comes to the gridiron; the Dallas Cowboys are in a league of their own. The Cowboys brand, worth $208 million, is $128 million more valuable than that of the average NFL team. The reason? Jerry Jones’ big push to appeal to fans not just in Texas but across the country since purchasing the team in 1989.

So popular are the Cowboys, who have become known as ‘America’s Team’, that in 2002 they became the first – and to date, the only – team to opt out of the NFL’s merchandising program and instead take control of their own apparel rights. Jones’ success in the owners’ suite has been staggering. Since he bought the team, the compound annual growth of its enterprise value (equity plus net debt) has been 13 percent, which is 63 percent better than the S&P 500 as a whole.

How and why do the Cowboys rate as highly in Forbes estimation as they do? According to Forbes, its part Jones, part the Cowboys new stadium, part the NFL and the Cowboys being the Cowboys. Forbes suggested: Jones is trying to turn his new stadium, which has the largest video screen in the world, into a miniature version of Las Vegas. During the past year, the stadium hosted a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey and also hosted the NBA All-Star game. Another big fight featuring Floyd Mayweather may come to the stadium before long. On top of all this, Jones gets to keep all the revenue the stadium generates, excluding a sales tax on tickets.

This year the stadium will showcase both, college and high school football, international soccer, as well as the Super Bowl in February of 2011. In 2014, Jones will host the NCAA Men's basketball Final Four. But not all has gone smoothly for Jones, who is on the hook for $200 million in stadium debt. A tennis event was canceled this year when players pulled out and the team is suing people who have not paid for their luxury suites. Jones also has not found a naming rights partner for the stadium (remember, the new Giants/Jets facility is also without a corporate naming partner).

The Cowboys are much more than what Forbes suggested the franchise represents. A few weeks ago Harris Interactive released their annual survey as to who Americans feel are the most popular football team.

For the fourth year in a row, the Cowboys are the favorite team of adults who follow professional football. Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts come in at number 2, up from number 4 last year while the Green Bay Packers have moved from number 6 to number 3. Rounding out the top five favorite football teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers at number 4, down from number 2 last year and the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints who jump from 24th on last year's list to number 5 this year.

Since Harris Interactive began taking the pulse of Americans in 1998, the Cowboys have been number one seven times, number two three times and number four once. Much of the credit has to go to Jones – he is one of the best owners in sports today, a winner on an off the field.

Jones' stewardship of the Dallas Cowboys has brought unprecedented results and success to one of the worlds most popular sports entities. Aside from being one of only four current owners to guide their franchises to at least three Super Bowl titles, Jones is also one of the most active figures in the area of service to the leadership of the NFL. His contributions are visible on a daily basis with his participation on a wide range of committees that assist in maintaining the NFL's current level of success and stature.

Highlighted by Super Bowl victories following the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons, Jones became the first owner in NFL history to guide his team to three league championships in his first seven years of ownership. In 1995, Dallas also became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four seasons while tying the NFL record for most Super Bowl victories by an organization with five.

By 1999, the first decade of Jones's ownership closed with eight playoff appearances, six division titles, four conference championship game appearances and three world crowns. Dallas closed the millennium as the NFL's “Team of the Decade” for the 1990s. In 2007, the Cowboys added their seventh division crown and advanced to their 10th playoff appearance under Jones's leadership.

Although his ownership of the organization has brought championships and a generous compliment of the games brightest stars to the region, the future success of the team and its new stadium provide the driving inspiration for the entire Jones Family. The new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas will serve as the beacon that will help North Texas stake its claim as a major focal point on the sporting and entertainment landscapes of this country.

Scheduled to open for the 2009 NFL season, the state of the art home of the Cowboys may serve for Jones as the crowing achievement is his tenure as Cowboys owner

The stadium which will host Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011, serves as a powerful catalyst to attract a wide range of national and international events that could define the future of the region for generations to come.

Since he took over as general manager in 1989, the Cowboys have drafted 23 different players who have gone on to appear in a combined total of 80 Pro Bowls. Dallas has also signed nine free agent players who have made 21 Pro Bowl appearances while representing the Dallas Cowboys. Since 1989, the Cowboys have made 120 trades, the most celebrated of which was the 1989 deal that sent Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings and provided the personnel foundation for three league titles.

In selecting the on-the-field leadership for the Cowboys, Jones hired a pair of coaches who won three Super Bowls in Dallas: Jimmy Johnson (1992-1993) and Barry Switzer (1995). Chan Gailey followed with a division title and playoff appearances in 1998 and 1999. In 2003, Jones successfully recruited two-time Super Bowl winner Bill Parcells to Dallas and Parcells directed the team to three winning seasons and two playoff trips in four seasons. In February of 2007, Jones added another successful NFL head coach in Wade Phillips, who in his first season guided the Cowboys to a club-record tying 13-3 regular season record and the organization's 20th division title.

In the last 30 years, 32 different owners have entered the National Football League. Of that group, only Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft of New England have guided their franchises to more than two Super Bowl championships. Moreover, Jones joins Art Rooney, Jack Kent Cooke, Al Davis, Eddie DeBartolo and Kraft as the only men to have won at least three Super Bowls as NFL owners.

On the league front, he actively contributes his vision and enthusiasm to enhancing the NFL's status as the world's premier professional sports league by serving on a wide range of league committees. Jones is currently the Chairman of the NFL Network Broadcast Committee. He is a member of the Management Council Executive Committee, the Special Committee on League Economics and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee. Jones also served on the committee that was charged with overseeing the search for a successor to retired NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue - a search that successfully landed current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in September of 2006. In addition, Jones has served two prior terms as a member of the NFL's Competition Committee as well as a stint on the Business Ventures Committee.

His contributions and innovations in the areas of marketing, corporate sponsorships, television, stadium management, stadium development and community service have made a visible imprint on the ever evolving face of professional sports in America. Since becoming involved with the Cowboys, Jones' accomplishments have been recognized through his induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2007), the Texas Business Hall of Fame (2005), the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (1999) and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (1998). In August of 2007, he also served as the presenter for Michael Irvin's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jones imagined the 2010 season would be much better on the field then it has been. In the preseason, many NFL pundits believed the Cowboys would become the first city to both host and play in the Super Bowl. At 1-7, they own the second worst record in the NFL, times have been very tough for Jerry Jones.

"I'm embarrassed. Of course I am," Jones told ESPN Dallas after the Cowboys' 35-17 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. "And, to every fan, I should have and do take the ultimate, ultimate responsibility. I do. That's the way we're structured. That's the way I run it. There's no question that I have the plan and executing it to have the best players and the best coaching that we can have. I'm dumbfounded that we are 1-7.

"You couldn't get me to say it, but you know that I thought we had a team here that could be one of the top competitive teams in the NFL," Jones continued. "I'm very, very, very sorry to our fans. You should have better than this.”

As upset as Jones was after the Cowboys lost Sunday, as sorry as he appears to be, he is not ready to fire Wade Phillips the teams’ head coach yet and seems to understand the road back is going to be long and painful.

"You can tell by the way some of the things that we've done to certainly make the Cowboys everything you want them to be, you should be able to tell that I won't rest until we've figured some things out to get us in a different spot. ... What it is, I don't have that.

"I am not in any way for making changes," Jones said. "I have always thought our best chance to win, when you've got three-day weeks and you've got to get ready to go to play a team, the best chance to win was to continue to be coached and continue to do some of the same things. There's not enough time to change."

Forbes and Harris Interactive make pretty strong cases regarding how strong the Cowboys are as a brand and what the franchise is worth. Portfolio.com offered yet another view as to what the Cowboys represent to the business of sports. The website used a formula to determine “which NFL franchise had the highest success index” using the following formula based on the 2009 season: Success Score: 84.96 points, Record: 11-5-0, Average margin: 6.94 points per game, Playoffs: Lost in early round, Average home attendance: 89,756, Percent of capacity: 100 and Franchise value: $1.65 billion. It remains to be seen what impact the Cowboys failure on the field will have on their success index next year but given the franchises value continues to grow each year, the Cowboys will remain at or near the top of the next year’s list.

And the ratings for Sunday night’s game – count on another Sunday night ratings win for NBC, the Cowboys are a ratings winner. Sunday Night Football has been the top rated television broadcast each week of the NFL season – expect the streak to continue this week.

“For better or worse, for richer or poorer, the Cowboys always make for great TV.” – “Sunday Night Football’s” Al Michaels

For SportsBusinessNews.com this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited and used in this Insider Report: Cowboys.com and ESPN

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