I know that I promised more draft analysis and more on the Moss trade, but there is another issue that begs for attention and which simply will not, and should not, go away. That issue is why Reggie Fowler would be named the lead man in the potential purchase of the Vikings.
Since Fowler agreed in principle to purchase the Vikings from Red McCombs, countless hordes have debated Fowler's ability to complete the transaction. The most optimistic figures suggest that Fowler has assets worth slightly more than $400 million. Whether this figure is accurate, I will leave for the NFL to decide.
More pressing among my concerns is why any group would put forth Fowler as the lead figure for a prospective ownership group. Let's assume that the $400 million figure is accurate. To serve as lead owner, Fowler must come up with one-third of the proposed sale price of the Vikings, or approximately $208 million and some big change. That looks like a tall order.
Fowler does not contest the $400 million or the evaluation of his net worth. He simply contends that he has the means to purchase the Vikings. But, in addressing the means issue, Fowler often lapses into references of "we"--as in, "we have the means." "We" is not Fowler. "We" is Fowler's investment group.
For Fowler to come up with the $208 million or so that he will need to come up with to purchase the Vikings, he must either sell at least half of his assets or borrow against those assets. Unfortunately, Fowler does not deny what the records appear to indicate. Namely, that Fowler has already borrowed heavily against his assets.
That means that, to come up with the $208 million or so, Fowler must sell much of his assets--maybe all of his assets given the extent to which they already are leveraged. That's fine if he can do so in short order. But, in the long run, it begs the question of how Fowler can make a go of owning the Vikings in the short term?
Fowler has already stated that the team is not viable without a new stadium. Given the dynamics of stadium construction, even if Fowler were to build the stadium on his own dime, there will be no new stadium until at least 2008. Which means that Fowler not only will have no new stadium revenue to finance the purchase of a team that Red found impossible to make a go of with debt on a much lower purchase price, but also that Fowler will be attempting to control the team minus approximately half of his current assets, and likely the assets that are most valuable given the need for him to make a quick sale of those assets to purchase the Vikings.
But, again, this is not about whether Fowler has the means to own the Vikings. In the end, he may have just enough to purchase the Vikings.
The larger and more puzzling issue, however, is why Fowler is the lead on this prospective deal? Why put someone at the fore who, even if they have the means to close on the sale of the Vikings, would only barely have the means?
Numerous people have suggested that this is all about race. That the NFL wants a minority owner. While it might be true that the NFL would welcome a minority owner, it is unclear why the NFL would champion a paper tiger. Moreover, this claim suggests that the NFL is brokering the entire deal. Yet, unless the NFL is actually funding the deal, there is no reason for the NFL to back this particular deal as it appears to leave the Vikings in a more precarious financial situation than the one under which they currently operate. What does the NFL gain from havign such a weak franchise in Minnesota?
What is interesting about this whole case is that Fowler remains tight-lipped about his investment partners. We have been told that his partners are billionaires, but, with the exception of tossing out the name of Landis, who purportedly is but one of the other investors, we have been told nothing. But if Fowler has billionaire partners, why is Fowler, a relative pauper as a multi-millionaire, put forth as the lead owner by that group? What is that group hoping to conceal about itself? About its own interests and designs as members of a Vikings' ownership group? What is there that we ought to know about this group that we cannot know at present?
And if the NFL is in on this deal, to whom are they selling what?
I'll have more on this later, but feel free to offer your thoughts as I dish out some more draft thoughts including from whence Matt Roth came onto page one of draft day.