The NBA free-agent season starts this weekend. Due to the huge new TV contract, the salary cap for each team has gone up by a bit more than $20M and I read somewhere that some teams like the Sixers will have to spend $50M just to get to the salary floor. [Aside: There is a floor and a cap in the NBA.] What this means is that there will be some players who will get contract offers that will make you shake your head in disbelief. However, even before the NBA’s silly-season gets underway, the NFL has a staggering contract announcement.

    The Indianapolis Colts signed Andrew Luck through the 2021 season to a contract with a total value of $140M with $80M of that contract guaranteed and with $75M of that contract going to Luck in the first three years.

    That is the biggest contract in NFL history with the largest guaranteed money ever.

What this means is really pretty simple. Franchise QBs are a rare commodity in the NFL and when a team has a young franchise QB, they need to dig deep into the pockets to make sure they have him locked up for a while. Andrew Luck just set the bar for contracts that young franchise QBs are going to aim at. There will likely be more of these sorts of deals down the road.

Do not weep for the NFL owners here; this contract – even if it becomes commonplace – will not send them to the poorhouse. While the financial specifics for 31 of the teams is not known outside the world of tax accountants and the IRS, there is one team that is publicly owned and therefore has to share its fanatical with the world. Here are some data points:

    The Green Bay Packers scored a record profit of $48.9M last year.

    The revenue-sharing they got from the NFL (from the TV deals and other league-wide deals) was $222.6M. [Aside: Since teams share equally, that means the NFL revenue stream was sufficient to pass along $7.12B to the teams after the league kept a smidgen for itself to run the Front Office and pay for things like the Wells Report.]

    Revenue should be up this coming year over last year as there are expanded network telecasts of Thursday Night Football games.

I wonder if there is actually a way for an NFL owner to run his team such that it loses money for a year – and I do not mean “lose money” as a result of some accounting legerdemain. It seems to me as if that would be very difficult to do.

Speaking about NFL owners and profits, there appears to be some sort of movement in Las Vegas with regard to where they might put a stadium in which the Raiders would play. Matt Youmans had a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently that outlined the pros and cons for what he calls the “final four stadium sites.” In addition to the site that had been touted before right next to McCarran International Airport, there are three other possibilities. One of the alternate sites is the field where the Las Vegas 51s – the Mets’ Triple A affiliate – play their home games. The reason that site is on the radar is that the 51s are planning to move to a new park out on the western edge of Las Vegas sometime soon.

Rather than go through the pros and cons here, let me give you a link to the report in case you are interested in the details.

I am not sure I understand what this next item is supposed to do, but I read a report that there is a joint venture between the NFL, the NFLPA and Cirque du Soliel to put on an “NFL experience” exhibit. I do not know the common denominator among those three entities but supposedly things are moving ahead and you will never guess where they plan to put this “thing”. If you said Times Square in Manhattan, you would be correct. I would have needed at least 72 hours of guessing before I got to that site.

There will be a theater with a 360-degree multimedia “experience” for fans that will be produced by NFL Films. As is always the case when something like this is announced, there are statements made by managers that demonstrate what I like to call a “value-subtracted process”. You read the statement; you can define every word in the statement; nevertheless, when you read it as a whole, it makes little sense. Consider this statement from Dawn Hudson, the NFL chief Marketing Officer:

“The NFL and Cirque du Soleil are two iconic global brands. We are pleased to team with this industry leader to set the new standard of excellence in sports and entertainment. We are thrilled to re-imagine what it means to authentically engage with fans by providing them an immersive, innovative experience celebrating football and available year-round. We hope to bring fans of all ages and avidity into the huddle and give them an all-access pass to players and teams.”

Can someone explain to me the difference between “authentically engaging” with fans and “dubiously engaging” with fans? Someone must know all about that because the NFL is re-imagining” it here and that means they imagined it in the past and must know what the heck it means.

The President of NFL Players, Inc. was not to be outdone. Here is what Ahmad Nassar had to say about all of this:

“We are happy to facilitate an experience that brings NFL players closer to football fans from around the world. This will be a unique and innovative showcase of professional football and an example of how our business can be a unifying force.”

Now that you have read that statement do you feel you know anything more than you did 30 seconds ago?

Of course, the big cheese at Cirque du Soliel, Daniel Lamarre, had some cogent remarks to offer:

“Our new venture with the NFL signifies the next phase of Cirque du Soleil, and we see tremendous opportunity in working creatively with the League as well as other world-class brands throughout the world. No other brand in professional sports is as strong and popular as the NFL and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase the NFL from a whole new perspective.”

Having heard all of those statements, I still know nothing more than the fact that there will be a multimedia presentation/experience produced by NFL Films.

Finally, Greg Cote had this comment in the Miami Herald with regard to happenings in the NHL off-season:

“Wheelin’-dealin’ Florida [Panthers] signed all-star defenseman Keith Yandle to a seven-year, $44 million deal, traded Dmitri Kuliokov, and had the 23rd and 33rd picks early in NHL Draft, according to analyst Pierre Kiper Jr. I bet big they’d draft two white teenagers you’d never heard of. How’d I do?

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………