NFL fans suffer from greedy team owners

Recently in the NFL, everything consistently changes except the New England Patriots. Their consistent play is unparalleled, highlighted by their seven Super Bowl appearances since 2001, by far the most in that span. They are the strange outliers in the ever-inconsistent league over the past 15 years.

Over time, divisions have changed; the way the game itself is played is different from that of 20 years ago. And of course, teams themselves have changed, not just from winning to losing franchises, but disappeared from the football realm entirely. While the league has not seen a team diminish completely in over 20 years when both the Cleveland Browns and Houston Oilers left their cities and became new teams, that does not mean current fans may be safe from losing their teams. The Rams franchise relocated from St. Louis to Los Angeles to start the 2016 season, and one month ago the Chargers announced their move to LA as well, leaving San Diego behind. Both St. Louis and San Diego now sit without a team, leaving millions of fans heartbroken. The common denominator behind all of the moves is the want for a new stadium to play in. These moves, as one can imagine, are not easy, cheap, or fun, and for the league, a bad look. And as rare as these moves are, a third team may be on the move as well.

The Oakland Raiders are currently exploring relocation options, and Las Vegas is the frontrunner for the team to call home. That sentence pains me as a diehard fan of the franchise, but in the grand scheme of it all, many forget the NFL is truly a business. Teams will go where the money is, and Vegas has millions to offer for a new stadium. But what pains me more, and I’m sure the fans of San Diego and St. Louis as well, is these billion dollar franchises’ expectancy of funding to come from the communities that house them. In November, the San Diego residents shot down a measure that would have pledged a whopping $1.1 billion in public backing to fund the stadium. The wealthy businessmen in charge cannot call upon the pockets of local taxpayers, some of which have no interest in the team or attending games, to save them from paying out the millions they actually have access to. On top of that, coming along with a new stadium is the likely skyrocketing of ticket prices for the new venue, leaving fans to pay more and more. In a sense, it seems as if the owners would like to pay nothing and only sit back and receive the profits. It is pure selfishness on the part of the owners to place a burden of this magnitude on the public, when the cities and states that house the teams have more pressing issues than a football stadium. And after all of this, the owners still expect the support of their fans, or former fans for that matter, to continue supporting the team that ripped out their hearts. If the reaction of the San Diego residents is any indication, fans do not take the change easy. Many went to the San Diego headquarters of the team after the announcement, renouncing their support and leaving their now unwanted jerseys and team affiliated items for the team deal with. After all, the team had spent all but one of its 57 years of existence in San Diego.

The NFL and its 32 franchises have moved into a new era of sports, one in which the top-tier players command hundred million dollar contracts, and many more upwards of 10 million. The required money is clearly not the issue; it will always be there. It is the greed of those who look down from the top of the NFL foodchain who cause the messy endings to the loyal fan who has been through it all.

If one day the owners begin to see things from the perspective of the fans, maybe things will change. Or better said, the team won’t change