Friday, June 21, 2024

Will Tom Brady ever become part-owner of the Raiders? Even for an icon, money talks.

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The holdup with Tom Brady’s deal to purchase a stake in the Las Vegas Raiders likely goes beyond concerns about his Fox broadcast role.

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NASHVILLE – Another Tom Brady roast continues.

NFL owners held another round of meetings this week, and the business did not include finalizing a much-anticipated deal that would allow the iconic former quarterback to purchase a stake in the Las Vegas Raiders.

Again.

Brady’s apparent deal with Raiders owner Mark Davis to buy an undisclosed percentage of the franchise, which is escalating in value, has been in the works for more than a year.

Yet Brady, the subject of a recent Netflix special labeled “The Greatest Roast of All-Time,” is still waiting for his proposed purchase to pass muster with the league’s finance committee – the first step toward final approval before advancing for a vote before the full body of owners.

It’s fair to wonder: Will Brady, poised to launch this season as an NFL analyst for Fox Sports, ever become a part-owner of the Raiders? Will this vision of a New England Patriots legend joining the Raider Nation ever really happen?

The proposed deal was apparently rejected by the finance committee recently for at least the third time and wasn’t even on the official agenda to be voted on this week, despite the expectation weeks ago that the deal was close to the finish line.

Brady, 46, gained approval in October to buy a stake in Davis’ champion WNBA team, the Las Vegas Aces, yet his NFL approval for a piece of the Raiders keeps falling short of the end zone.

“It’s alive, but I’m not going to comment any more,” Davis told USA TODAY Sports before the meetings began on Tuesday. “I’m going to leave it at that for now.”

It’s worth noting that as the Brady proposal has been under consideration, the Raiders’ value has popped, bolstered by their new home, Allegiant Stadium, in a new market since the move from Oakland. In its last report on NFL team values in September 2023, Forbes ranked the Raiders as the NFL’s sixth most-valuable franchise, worth $6.2 billion – and one of four teams with a value growing at least 20% over the previous year.

While the Brady matter wasn’t voted on this week, it was apparently discussed behind closed doors.

On Wednesday, Davis beamed as he stood in the lobby and shared a quick update. “There may be some progress,” Davis told USA TODAY Sports, without elaboration.

Progress. That’s the word NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell used, too, when asked about the potential Brady deal (again) during a press conference as the meetings concluded on Wednesday.

Part of the issue: Would Brady’s role with Fox open up a can of worms that involves a competitive advantage – or suspicion of an advantage – for the Raiders?

In his media role, Brady would gain access that conceivably could include his presence at team practices. Generally speaking, the network TV crews are at practices sparingly – maybe once per week – as they prepare for calling the games.

As a minority stakeholder in the Raiders, it seems likely that the franchise would want to tap into Brady’s football expertise. After all, Brady won a record seven Super Bowl rings with the Patriots (six) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (one).

So, in a league with rampant paranoia and instances over the years where spying has been alleged or proven (see Spygate), a comfort level with Brady is apparently a box to be checked as it pertains to a potential conflict of interest.

“I do think progress is being made,” Goodell said. “The finance committee has done its work on this. We have a little more to do, but that was one of the factors. As a member of the media, what access would he have every week as he prepares for the broadcast of the game. We discussed that. We’re making progress on it.”

During the last NFL owners meetings, in Orlando in late March, an NFL owner who requested anonymity told USA TODAY Sports that he believed the conflict-of-interest question had been resolved. The owner did not want to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

It also seemed apparent during the meetings in Orlando that Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt was at peace with the conflict-of-interest question. This week, Hunt, chairman of the NFL’s finance committee, declined a USA TODAY Sports interview request to address the Brady matter (or any of the other embarrassing off-the-field issues linked in recent weeks to his two-time defending Super Bowl champions). In March, though, Hunt, mindful of the snags, told USA TODAY Sports that he considered the Brady transaction to be on track for approval.

“I would expect that at some point it will be back in front of the finance committee for approval,” Hunt told USA TODAY Sports in March. “It’s an ongoing process. There were a lot of hoops that had to be jumped through.”

Well, now it seems that Brady, who had a huge hand in the biggest comeback victory in Super Bowl history, is engaged in a different type of overtime.

Is there another issue? In the context of NFL big business, you can never forget about money.

While Davis or any other NFL owners or officials have not publicly revealed details of the proposal – including the exact percentage or total investment – it is logical to suspect that the value or structure of Brady’s proposal is at the heart of the inability to gain approval from the finance committee.

If you’re Davis, you might be willing to sell a piece of the franchise for less than market value because it’s Brady, who would bring celebrity gravitas.

If you’re a fellow NFL owner, though, such a sale with a so-called “pretty-boy discount” could conceivably devalue your franchise at a time when team values keep rising. Talk about conflict of interest.

So, while in a separate matter NFL owners ponder changing policy to accommodate investments from private equity firms, the Brady case may test the conditions for selling off pieces of their franchises to minority stakeholders.

In the meantime, Brady’s deal remains under further review – a big-business replay of The Tuck Rule.

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