What Every Business Can Learn From Pro Football

Football is a sport that a lot of people (including Charlene)  view as an almost primitive game. They criticize it for how it is so testosterone filled, too easy to get hurt, and can cause damage to the brain.

In high school, I was a football jock for a while until I got creamed by an over-aggressive safety and that was the end of that.

But even though I was sidelined by my injury, and was never able to play on that level again, I have carried with me a healthy respect for the game of football and got a bit of an inkling into why the kids who played it loved it.

What the haters never seem to consider is just how beautiful a game it actually is. My sister with whom I have watched many NFL games, calls it ‘Ballet for Big Boys’. My sister is brilliant and I agree with her.

The amount of sheer planning, teamwork and effort required to make a football game simply ‘Okay’ is awesome to behold. Everybody on the field, at any given time, has an important role to play. And if they let up or hesitate even for an instant, they can send things into chaos.

The New England Patriots’ Model

Over the past decade I have been following the NFL New England Patriots because, in addition to being the winner of 5 SuperBowls, they are basically a marvel of football engineering.

A lot of people focus their attention on their quarterback Tom Brady. But if you know anything about him, he will be the first to explain that:

  • He is just a cog in the wheel, and he is only as good as
  • The protection he gets consistently from his linemen, and
  • The skills of his running backs and the ability of his receivers to get open, make plays and catches that very close to 100% of people in the world could never ever make, and
  • His ability to evade tacklers and not get blindsided by safeties and defensive ends who are as fast and powerful as they are.

On the other side, their defence must cover all the receivers like a blanket, break through the other team’s offensive line and put their quarterback or running back down, cause a fumble or misdirect a pass.

The amount of sheer experienced thinking that goes into creating a game plan for any pro football team is staggering and a close look at how this organization runs is something a lot of other businesses can learn from.

The NFL is one of the most successful and profitable business entities in the world. The reason for this is that it has 30 divisions (franchises) that are all well-oiled machines, with some being a bit more well-oiled than others.

NFL franchises are valued at anywhere from $500 million to over $1 billion, and that doesn’t include the cost of players, coaches, management, support staff, equipment, travel, promotion costs and the stadium in which the team will play!

So you can bet that making them profitable is of paramount importance.

How NFL Franchise Owners Ensure Their Success

In order to make owning an NFL Franchise profitable, there are a few key things needed.

  1. A highly experienced management team that is completely in synch and an owner who is willing to trust the experience and expertise of the people he hires all the way down the line.
  2. A team brand that makes it very attractive to the community in which it operates by making sure that players and coaches are willing to develop a strong profile in the community and generously support local charities and community services with both time and money.
  3. Stringent hiring practices that result in acquiring and keeping best and most qualified people AND give them enough freedom to do their jobs. This is a bit of an Achilles’ heel for a few NFL teams where the owners tend to micromanage things a bit too much, and the overall success of the franchise suffers accordingly.
  4. And LASTLY, and most importantly, the NFL franchise owner must do whatever it takes to put the best possible product on the field. Because, as a general rule, the success of any franchise is directly related to the degree of success of the team on the field.

Now it may seem that many smaller businesses have little in common with a major corporation like the NFL. But in point of fact, each one of those NFL franchises is governed by the same set of principles that most businesses are governed by.

  1. Getting to know and love your customers
  2. Striving for excellence, precision and simplicity in the way your business runs (both on and off the field)
  3. Giving back to your employees and your community so that you are always seen as good corporate citizens.

Not coincidentally, this is the mantra we chant here at Bullet Proof. Because this is what our experience (many games) and business intuition (many years) have taught us.

If you’re thinking that your business could use a little fine-tuning along these lines, we should talk. Because, these days, perhaps more than at any time so far, brand engineering and forward thinking are critically important components of future success.

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