I hope Santa was as good to everyone as he was to me. He made me an owner of an NFL team. That's right. I was given a share of Green Bay Packers, Inc. That makes me a part owner of the NFL's only non-profit, community-owned franchise.
OK, I know what the cynics are saying. The stock pays no dividends. It can't be sold. It can't even be given away (except to an immediate family member). It doesn't come with rights to buy game tickets. I'm an owner of a piece of paper. What's the big deal?
After the jump, the benefits (and drawbacks) of being an NFL team owner.
Although it's impossible to profit from ownership of the Packers (it's a non-profit corporation, d'oh), it's more than just a piece of paper to hang on the wall. It's real ownership. For the first time in my life, after a Packers' win, I can say "we" won and not mean it figuratively. Stock ownership comes with voting rights for electing the board of directors which, in turn, appoints the executive committee that really does run the Packers.
It's also a donation to the team. I know that. Many people make donations to their favorite charity (UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, etc.) or non-profit organization (PBS, Dallas Museum of Art, etc.). A donation to the only community-owned pro sports franchise is similar. Each dollar raised in this fashion is one less dollar taxpayers are asked to chip in to keep the Packers in Green Bay. Ask a Minnesota Vikings fan how he or she feels about the recurrent rumors of that team's move to another city willing to build them a new stadium. Green Bay Packers' fans never have to experience those feelings.
Even if you still consider it just a piece of paper, who is to say what a piece of paper is worth? Collectors pay good money for autographs, photos or portraits of the game's heroes, programs or ticket stubs to famous games (I wish I had kept my ticket stub to the 1967 Ice Bowl), etc. All just pieces of paper. Even one of the 1997 Green Bay Packers' stock certificates recently sold on the collectibles market for $750 (for just the piece of paper, not the ownership rights that the original owner retains).
All that said, ownership does come with some drawbacks. NFL bylaws prohibit owners from publicly criticizing the Packers or any other team or NFL employee (so, no more Chicago Bears' jokes from me). And owners are forbidden to bet on NFL games (goodbye office pool). Still, here's where the widely distributed ownership rights are a real benefit -- the NFL is unlikely to police the behavior of hundreds of thousands of Green Bay Packers' owners.
Anyway, for future reference, if this blog is ever silent for a few days, it just might be because I'm in the middle of important meetings with Jerry Jones, Robert McNair, Robert Kraft and other NFL owners. I'm already thinking of applying for membership on the NFL Rules Committee. If anyone has any ideas for how to improve instant replay, pass them along.
Oh, and before I forget, "Go Pack!"