NFL

Peyton Manning Wants to Apply the ‘Michael Jordan Blueprint’ to the NFL

So many people who follow football have wondered which broadcasting job Peyton Manning will eventually take that they have possibly missed the obvious: The answer is “none.”

A recent story points out that that television work constitutes low-hanging fruit for the former NFL quarterback. He would be better suited for a job with real responsibility in an NFL front office – or owning the team.

The Michael Jordan blueprint doesn’t really apply

A story by Bleacher Report’s Kalyn Kahler suggests that retired NFL great Peyton Manning wants to run a football team with an ownership stake and suggests the “Michael Jordan Blueprint.”

One scenario would make Manning a minority owner with the title of general manager or president but not much of a financial stake. The other would have him slide in somewhere as the managing partner, which requires a substantial financial stake under NFL rules.

The later would be closer to the scenario under which Michael Jordan operates the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan bought into the franchise in 2006 and then bought out Bob Johnson’s controlling interest four years later. He gradually raised his stake to 97% ownership before selling a portion to two investors last fall, but Jordan maintains control of the franchise.

Jordan was able to take over the Charlotte franchise at a discount because it was a money-losing operation at the time. Although the team’s value has soared to the $1.5 billion range, it remains one of the least valuable franchises in the league.

Though the team constitutes a large portion of Jordan’s estimated $2 billion net worth, it is now believed to be profitable. Still, Jordan makes a lot more money from Nike each year than he does from the Hornets.

Controlling an NFL team requires more money than Peyton Manning has

According to Forbes, the Buffalo Bills are the least valuable franchise in the NFL but could still command a price of nearly $2 billion if Terry and Kim Pegula wanted to sell.

If Peyton Manning intended to be the managing partner of a group buying the team, be would have to own a 30% stake. With a $350 million debt limit written into the NFL bylaws, that implies Manning having to put in around $300 million in cash just to reach the minimum.

Realistically, he’d need more because the NFL also limits the number of members in an ownership group — and there isn’t a long line of people willing to invest $75 million or $100 million without having a say in running the company. Rather than a 30% stake, he’d probably need something closer to 50%.

According to Business Insider, Manning earned $248.7 million playing football. While he has also made money via endorsements and presumably from investing, there are taxes and living expenses to consider.

A recent estimate puts his net worth at $200 million, so the numbers seemingly don’t work for Manning if he wants to be the managing partner of an NFL team. A similar math problem will keep John Elway from ever owning the Denver Broncos.

Does Peyton Manning have the skills to run a team?

Peyton Manning has zero official experience in an NFL front office, but the recent Bleacher Report story offers insight into how well connected and engaged he is, which explains why three sources told the writer that Manning wants an ownership stake and to run the operation.

“I could see him running an organization,” former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan said. “He is so on top of every area because he has been working at it his whole life.”

A particularly interesting anecdote had to do with the 2017 NFL draft, when the Cleveland Browns, who owned the top pick, and Chicago Bears, who were scheduled to pick third, were both kicking the tires on North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, a major donor to the University of Tennessee, had known Manning since his days as the Vols’ quarterback and sought his opinion. At about the same time, then-coach John Fox of the Bears was also taking to Manning about the prospect. The Bears were understandably nervous about what Manning was telling Haslam since they coveted Trubisky enough that they traded up one spot to get him.

Manning also remains a regular visitor to NFL training camps and the NFL Scouting Combine, where general managers regularly pull him aside to ask his opinion on players and occasionally coaches. It stands to reason that he would be a candidate for the position of general manager or team president somewhere.