The recent NFL Forbes rich list does not make for enjoyable reading for those associated with the Detroit Lions, as despite seeing their net worth jump from $1.44 billion to $1.65 billion in the space of a year, they find themselves second from bottom in the standings. With only the Buffalo Bills in a worse off financial state, the Lions finished 2015 with a revenue of $321 million, with the average NFL team enjoying a 19% increase in their worth from 2014. The Lions finished third in the NFC North in 2015, with a 7-9 winning record, and subsequently missed out on a place in the much coveted play-offs. So just how much of an impact do finances have upon the on-field success of a team?
The most obvious reason for the Lions lackadaisical financial performance compared to the rest of the NFL is the teams disappointing performances on the field, and rarely featuring in the season ending play-offs. After winning the 1957 NFL title, the team has gone on to win just one play-off game (1992), despite making the post-season twice in the past six years. The Lions certainly have a loyal fan base however, with the 64,000 seat Ford Field regularly selling out. However, the Lions winless season in 2008, along with their 2-14 record just a year later certainly hit the team hard, and coupled with the effects of the recession in Michigan, the Lions are struggling to compete with their closest rivals. Without the necessary finances, and despite having star players such as Ziggy Ansah and Matthew Stafford in their ranks, it is almost impossible to attract the quality of players necessary to reach the latter stages of the season.
It comes as little surprise that all of the top 5 most backed teams last season find themselves within the top 20 of the Forbes rich list. Super Bowl 50 winners the Denver Broncos were ranked at 11 in the list by Forbes, with a current value of $2.4 billion, demonstrating the differences in resources throughout the league. MVP Von Miller has recently put pen to paper on a new six year, $114.5 million contract with the Broncos, and when compared to the $18 million that Ansah is earning over four years, it is easy to see the struggles for the likes of the Lions.
However, the fact that the Dallas Cowboys, who have missed out on the play-offs for the past two years, as well as failing to reach a Super Bowl since 1996, have been named as the most valuable NFL team for the 10th consecutive year perhaps offers hope to some within the league. However, this argument can be countered by the fact that from the top 5 in the list, which is made up by The New England Patriots, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins, three of the teams have won a Super Bowl title within the last five years.