Fans Are Gaining PowerMarch 18th, 2014
Longtime NFL agent Jack Bechta is convinced that increased fan passion combined with driven, scrutiny-crazed bloggers have changed the direction of NFL ownership.
“The tail is wagging the dog” in many cases, Bechta claims.
He made the case in one of his often excellent columns for NationalFootballPost.com. The NFL feeding fans more and more information, such as inside the NFL Scouting Combine, NFL Network reporting and analysis, etc., has created a powerful beast that is no longer ignored.
Having that information available to the public and then reported, analyzed, scrutinized, speculated upon and criticized has created a fish bowl environment for owners, coaches and front office execs to operate in. And being that owners want to be popular, head coaches want to get extensions and front office people want to keep their jobs; just about every decision is made with heavy consideration as to what the public/fan base will think and how they will react. Therefore, many decisions made on hiring’s, personnel, and draft transactions are now based on avoiding scrutiny from the thousands of media outlets that exist. Sure, there are the Belichick’s and Thompson’s who will still have the courage to move on from a Welker or Favre, but they are a dying breed.
Mark my words; there will be an owner in the next seven years that will let his fan base actually vote on who his team will take with their first draft pick.
Even though this trend started several years ago with bloggers (who weren’t under contract with the NFL), it’s getting worse.
Now Joe’s not sure he can buy into this extreme level of fan/media power. Yes, fans are the customers and keeping them happy is important to running a successful business, but that only goes so far. National TV money drives the NFL and has decreased the value of ticket sales, stadium deals and, subsequently, winning.
But that doesn’t mean owners aren’t looking to earn every possible dollar and appease the masses.
Bechta referenced Bill Belichick and Ted Thompson as strong team leaders who don’t bend to public perception. Joe absolutely has to put Team Glazer into that class. The happenings of the 5 1/2 years tell you all you need to know.