(from Sports Business Journal, March 18, 2013) “Face it: Football is a violent game, and every player who signs up for it understands that, and that is part of why it is so popular,” these are the recent words of Jimmy Haslam, the new owner of the Cleveland Browns. He just purchased the lower-tier NFL team for a purchase price of $1.1 billion, despite recent questions posed by experts regarding the NFL’s future market value due to lawsuits from retired players.
These huge legal payouts have proven to be a major thorn in the side of the league, particularly the pocketbooks of the teams’ owners. Retired players are rising out of the woodwork by the thousands to cash in from their years of concussions in which they feel the NFL hid the potential dangers throughout their respective careers.
Jimmy Haslam is the first purchaser of an NFL franchise since the concussion explosion hit the headlines in recent seasons. The liability that head trauma brings to the sport has raised significant, somewhat grave, questions about the future of America’s most popular sport. Haslam believes, based on his discussions with the NFL regarding the exponentially large growth rates the league has made its standard, the Browns value could realistically double in his first 10 years as owner.
Haslam states that concussions were the main concern in his due diligence research for the Browns. He stated, “I think we feel very good there is no smoking gun that is going to come back like there was in cigarettes. Everyone I have talked to, and I have talked to all kinds of people, feels very good there is no kind of suppressed evidence.”
Although he opted against identifying the “all kinds of people” in which he is referring to regarding the medical issues of football concussions, Haslem claims there were between 10 and 20 individuals in the fields of law, business, and medicine.