In the wake of Jerry Richardson’s disgraceful behavior, his subsequent disgrace and his announcement that he intends to sell the Carolina Panthers, the list of people offered and offering to buy the team has created a feeding frenzy of celebrities wanting to buy.
Including, to what could be his eternal shame, Wardell Stephen Curry.
You see, owning an NFL team used to be a prestigious thing as well as a massively lucrative one. It was a cash machine, it was free access to any lawmaker in the country, it was a walking talking tax break, and it was a way to say, “Even among the special, I am special.”
Now, with the number of problems the league seems incapable of navigating, including the long-term medical danger to the sport itself, the growing willingness of cities not to be bullied into fiscal surrender, the diminishing ratings, the business’ growing inability to explain itself to even its biggest fans, the political thickets it can no longer avoid, and even the deteriorating quality of the owners themselves, the only thing you can say for owning an NFL team is that it is an ATM, and a less efficient one at that.
Plus you have to spend more time watching, listening and pretending to care about Jerry Jones while he nakedly (maybe even literally) muscles you into doing his bidding.
Now what’s fun about that? I mean, other than the ATM thing, I mean?
Being an NFL owner is not the thigh-slapping commode-hugging hoot it used to be. We as a nation know too much now, and whether it’s Diddy, Curry, Oprah, having a piece of the action means becoming a target of disdain and even revulsion. When someone says, “I’ll take a piece of that action,” I cringe for them. When someone is put forward as a potential owner, I think, “Why do you hate that person so?”
True, this may be an overgeneralization about the 32 owners – I mean, I don’t know if they’re all creepy, amoral, money-eating bullies. I haven’t met them all.
But NFL owners were royalty once upon a time, and we see yet again what’s happening to royalty -- it is being revealed as the rotting hulk it has always been. Maybe owners aren’t behaving differently than they used to, but they’re getting caught now, and between that and the widening flaws in the sport and its business, being an NFL owner looks like it’s a lot less enjoyable than it used to be.
Again, except for the ATM thing. Money is a hard thing to screw up – though, and let’s be honest here, it’s easier than it used to be.
Anyway, for Stephen Curry and all the other prospective buyers of the Carolina Panthers, this warning:
It won’t be any of you. Guaranteed. Bob McNair isn’t sitting down to talk expansion with Diddy or Super Bowl sites with Ted Nugent. Your eagerness to buy is not matched by their eagerness to watch you try.
Besides, there are other ATMs that allow you to take a little less and still sleep at night. Consider that.