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Tom Brady’s Minority Ownership Deal Could Use Some Competition

10:57 AM EDT on October 6, 2023

Sportscaster Jim Gray, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Las Vegas Raiders owner and managing general partner and Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis watch players warm up during halftime of a game between the Connecticut Sun and the Aces
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Consider this the first and almost surely last episode of Abnormal Conspiracies, Defector's initial flirtation with an unreported and almost completely fanciful story that we just want to be true because of all the people who would yank their heads from their moorings and turn the bar into a gigantic fountain of plasma. Strapped in? Good.

A sufficient number of the NFL's 32 ownership groups are hesitating on approving Tom Brady's proposed deal to buy a minority stake in the Las Vegas Raiders, according to the Washington Post's Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala, in part because they are skittish about the bargain price. That's the reported part.

Now the fun part, which we just now decided to make up: The NFL would prefer that Taylor Swift become that minority owner because of all the unusual concessions they have allegedly made to graft their name to hers, including muscling their affiliate networks to run free ads for her upcoming movie.

And well, why not? Brady gets them football fans, whom they already have. Swift gets them an audience that has entirely different priorities. Brady's net worth, according to a bunch of not-entirely-hinky aggregators, is $300 million. Swift's net worth, according to leading industry guesstimator Forbes, is $740 million. Whatever else you want to say about the NFL, it does math, especially when the number is preceded by an S with a slash down the middle, and 740,000,000 is more than 300,000,000 every day of the week.

Having fun yet, hyenas? Good. Let's play our game.

Maske and Jhabvala report that the price Brady agreed to pay to Mark Davis isn't the only issue, but it is the one the Post focuses on, with the juiciest graf being this:

It is believed that Davis is selling Brady between five and 10 percent of the Raiders. Minority shares of a sports franchise generally are sold at a discount from the applicable percentage of the team’s full value, given that limited partners in the franchise usually have little to no say over major operational decisions. But in this case, Davis may be giving Brady a discount of as much as approximately 70 percent, one of the people with knowledge of the deliberations said.

Washington Post

If we take all these numbers as accurate, and they almost surely are too low across the board because that's how these numbers usually work, this would mean that Brady would have to pay less than $100 million for his non-voting piece of a franchise that has no discernible football leadership anyway.

Maske and Jhabvala are careful to say that eventual approval is expected after the numbers are tweaked upward, but said that approval is not expected at the October owners' meetings in two weeks. This gives us a two-month window before the December meeting to suggest some seriously delightful mischief in the interim.

Traditionalists would crave Brady the owner the way they craved Aaron Rodgers the Jet, and there is less chance of Brady blowing out a leg stepping out of a limo. On the other hand, the lure of untapped mines of fresh money (of which Swifties definitely qualify) is the thing that makes Jerry Jones do handstands on hot coals. Of course, there is also less chance of Brady blowing out that leg than there is Swift hurting herself onstage, but there is no IL for owners.

And best of all, if Swift got approved for a piece of a team either before or instead of Brady, the old-school footballistas would eat their own faces in incandescent rage. Now tell us that doesn't beat televising the combine every time.

That is, after all, what we want. We're not interested in any statement the NFL wants to make about women in positions of influence, or for their newfound interest in women's eyes and wallets. We're not even that interested in Swift's portfolio, as we have already avoided any interested in her discography. When she does a properly slapping version of "54-40 That's My Number" or "Diamond Baby," then we'll feign the requisite interest.

We're interested instead in the hailstorm of fragmentation grenades that ensue with Swift at an owners' meeting rather than Brady, from the TV studios to the factory town bars. Brady will always hold a special place for football people, which is exactly why he should either be turned away or jacked around for more money while Swift breezes through the vetting process by singing a three-song medley to the finance committee. Why? Why aren't you asking, "Why not?"

Best of all, what if they got into a bidding war? Davis, who already has Brady as a partner in the Las Vegas Aces, his good team, would have to be torn between his loyalty to Brady and the possibility that Swift and what will surely be her future home (yeah, tell me casinos don't want to give her a theatre next to the sportsbook) could engage in a fight for the same piece of financial real estate. As we have stated in this space before, rich folks tearing each other asunder for the last quarter nearest of the sewer grate is the last and best entertainment our dying culture can produce, which is only reason anyone pays attention owners' meetings.

In short, while this almost certainly isn't the endgame we will get, it is the endgame we should want. Brady having to kick twice as much money as he thought he would may satisfy you of pettier mind, but we always err on the side of the force five shitticane. So yeah, give us all the Taylor Swift ownership news there is. Sell her a piece of the Raiders. Sell her a piece of the Aces and sit her at courtside right next to Brady. Sell her a piece of DraftKings and FanDuel so that every football fan has to go through her for their football fix. After all, if the NFL will pander a little for access to her power, it has already established the price for whatever her version of the market will bear.

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