According to a report from CBS Sports, Jeff Bezos is apparently following in the tradition of numerous other white billionaires and exploring the option to buy an NFL team. And he has the tacit approval of many of those fellow white billionaires.
The report, from Jason La Confora, notes that Bezos watched the most recent Super Bowl alongside NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and “has strong support within the league.”
For Bezos, who’s currently worth $111 billion, buying an NFL team would be like spending the change he finds between couch cushions. The most expensive team sale in league history (so far) was the 2018 sale of the Carolina Panthers for around $2.3 billion.
Plus, buying an NFL team is a smart investment if you can, you know, actually afford it, as team valuations are increasing exponentially.
Take the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were sold for $1.05 billion in 2012. According to Forbes, as of the kickoff of the 2019 season in September, the team is now worth $2.175 billion. In other words, the Browns — yes, the same Browns whose fans celebrated an 0-16 season with a parade in the frigid January sunshine — have doubled in value, despite an overall record of 27-84-1 from 2012 through the 2018 season.
But which team would Bezos even buy? The CBS Report points out the Seattle Seahawks are due to be sold since team owner (and Microsoft co-founder) Paul Allen died in October 2018. And the death of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen in June has brought about a lot of legal wrangling over who inherits the team.
It’s another team, though, that leads the list of possibles Bezos has his eyes on, and it’s definitely on our list of the five teams Bezos should purchase.
1. The Washington NFL team
The team with the terrible, racist name and the pretty terrible owner seems to be at the top of Bezos’ list, according to CBS Sports. Bezos owns a mansion in D.C., after all, and Amazon’s HQ2 is setting up shop in a nearby part of Virginia. But while the CBS report suggests Bezos might team up with team owner Dan Snyder, what Bezos should really do is buy it outright. Snyder is one of the most maligned owners in professional sports, and if anyone has the power — and cash — to overpower Snyder, it’s Bezos. And go ahead and change the team name while you’re at it, Jeff.
2. The Buffalo Bills
Another team that’s trying to claw itself out of years of irrelevancy, the Bills are almost certainly not for sale. Not right now, anyway. They were just purchased in 2014 by the couple that also owns Buffalo’s NHL team, the Sabres. But this is about another rich person who once tried to buy the Bills but was rebuffed: Donald Trump. Trump has made no secret of his disdain for Bezos and the Bezos-owned Washington Post, so what better way for Bezos to thumb Trump in the eye (metaphorically) than to buy the team Trump couldn’t? Again, if anyone has the money and power to buy a team that’s not on the market, especially for pure revenge reasons, it’s Bezos.
3. The Miami Dolphins
It’s hard to believe that someone could make a pro sports team in Miami seem like the worst possible destination, but that’s just what Stephen Ross has done. Ross became majority owner of the Dolphins in 2009 for $1 billion, and the team has done nothing but (wait for it) flounder since, making the playoffs just once and sinking into a pattern of mediocre ineptitude. Sure, the team is clearly tanking in the 2019 season to prep for a rebuild, but Ross has little goodwill left thanks to his outspoken support of Donald Trump. Ross faced criticism from one of his own players for a pro-Trump fundraiser that seemed like a direct contradiction to the mission statement of Ross’s nonprofit, the Ross Initiative for Sports Equality. The reaction was such that Ross was removed from the league’s social justice committee. Bezos could Make Miami Great Again which would surely stick in Trump’s craw.
4. The Cincinnati Bengals
If you can believe it, the Cleveland Browns aren’t even the worst team in their own state. That would be the Bengals, who are, as of this writing, the NFL’s only winless team in 2019. For Bezos, the Browns would be a steal at only $2 billion, but the cost would come in rebuilding the franchise. Literally. Besides the need for big roster upgrades, the Bengals’ current stadium lease expires in 2026, and the team is known for its lack of a full-sized indoor practice facility. The biggest thing hindering the sale? It’s been in the same family throughout its entire existence: the current owner, Michael Brown, is the son of team founder Paul Brown, and it seems he’d be unlikely to sell. Also, it’s Cincinnati, which, sorry, just doesn’t have the same appeal as a team in Miami or D.C. Though if Bezos wanted to pull a house-flip on the Bengals — buy them, renovate them, and then re-sell them for a higher price — it’d be worth it.
5. The Dallas Cowboys
Okay, so we’re in pipe dream territory here. The Cowboys are arguably one of the most well-known sports franchises in the world, up there with the New York Yankees. And team owner Jerry Jones is one of the most outspoken, spotlight-hogging owners in all of sports. He cherishes being the ringmaster of a three-ring circus, and there’s nothing about his ego that suggests he’d ever step down. Jones famously said in 2018 he wouldn’t sell the team for even $10 billion, which is what he thinks the franchise is worth (Forbes says the team is worth about half of that, but it’s still the most valuable team in the league). Plus, the team is likely to stay in Jones’ family. But there’s always a price, right? Jones may not sell for $10 billion, but what about $20 billion? That’s 20 percent of Bezos’ worth, yes, but it’s also the Dallas Freaking Cowboys. With all due respect to the other teams on this list, if there’s a team that fits Bezos’ globe-conquering worldview, it’s the Dallas Freaking Cowboys. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a crack in Jones’ resolve. The team is approaching 25 years since their last Super Bowl win which, in context, is several lifetimes for Cowboys fans. Maybe Jones will tire of the constant cycle of disappointment (only 4 playoff appearances in the last 10 years). If nothing else, the clash of egos and management styles in negotiations would be fascinating.