Forbes has completed its annual evaluation of NFL franchises, and the New York Jets came in sixth this season, marking no change from last year’s edition (the full list can be found here if you’re interested). Many people will be surprised to see the Jets ranked so highly, but the truth is that winning football games has very little to do with the value of an NFL franchise.
This can be seen very clearly at the top of the list, where the Dallas Cowboys rank first for the seventh year in a row despite having only made the playoffs four times since the year 2000. Furthermore, while the Jets are sixth, the New Orleans Saints are 23rd and the Atlanta Falcons rank just 26th. Winning doesn’t matter for this list, stadiums and media market size do.
The Jets have the New York market obviously, which is the biggest media market in the country. They have advertising opportunities that only the New York Giants can match (they rank fourth in case you’re wondering). The Jets never have to worry about home games being blacked out, and they have ranked among the league leaders in nationally televised games over the last few seasons.
The Jets have a huge fan base in the tri-state area, and those fans are willing to pay absurd prices for game tickets no matter how bad the team is. The Jets and Giants collaborated on a new stadium that opened in 2010, and the value of that facility is a huge boost to the overall value of both franchises.
What this news may actually do is worsen the public perception of Jets’ owner Woody Johnson, who is not a popular figure among fans. Many fans (myself included) believe Johnson doesn’t know anything about football, couldn’t care less about winning games and sees this franchise as nothing more than a money-printing machine for him.
If Johnson wants to show that he truly wants to build a winner, then he needs to take some of this money he is making and spend it to get talent on the roster. Whether it’s upgrading the college scouting staff or spending on free agents, fans want to see these huge profits be used for making the product on the field better.