In the business world, it's fairly straightforward regarding how to determine which company is the most successful. You just look at a common economic calculation like annual revenue, net income, or overall value. After all, since the prime directive of almost every business entity is to make money, the benchmarks for success line up nicely with numerical dollar amounts.
But things are different in the sports world. While the people in the management suites do everything they can to maximize profit, the real measure of success comes from the team's performance on the field, court, or ice rink.
So in a sense, every sports franchise is trying to accomplish two important but distinctly different goals: to make money and to win championships. Inevitably, these two goals will conflict with one another; this is most often seen when player contracts are negotiated, new playing venues are built, or fan ticket prices are increased.
In professional football, NFL teams didn't had to worry much in the past about the bottom line. The league had signed some mega-deals with TV networks, merchandise sales were humming, and profits kept rising for almost every team. But recently, a few scandals have rocked the NFL concerning player bounties, spying on practices, head injuries, and domestic violence. Some are saying that the days of the NFL printing money are over.
If that's true, team owners will be focusing more on their balance sheets than they have in quite a while. That may lead to coaches and general managers having to do more with less in the years to come. These circumstances will make it harder for any NFL team to attain the ultimate prize: a Super Bowl title.
With this profit-performance dichotomy in mind, let's take stock of where the NFL franchises are now. Here are the ten most financially valuable teams (as determined by Forbes magazine based on August 2014 figures) who have yet to put a Lombardi Trophy in their locker room.
10 10. Cincinnati Bengals: $990 million
9 9. San Diego Chargers: $995 million
8 8. Arizona Cardinals: $1 billion
7 7. Cleveland Browns: $1.12 billion
6 6. Atlanta Falcons: $1.125 billion
5 5. Minnesota Vikings: $1.15 billion
4 4. Tennessee Titans: $1.16 billion
3 3. Carolina Panthers: $1.25 billion
2 2. Philadelphia Eagles: $1.75 billion
1 1. Houston Texans: $1.85 billion
It's not surprising that the NFL's newest franchise has yet to win (or even make it into) a Super Bowl. But the fact that the Texans are the fifth-most valuable team in the league is pretty amazing. Owner Bob McNair has already nearly tripled his investment of $700 million that he paid for the franchise in 2002. But it helps that the team plays in America's fourth-largest city in the massive-yet-beautiful NRG Stadium, which will host the NFL's championship game in 2017.
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