What a Difference an (NFL) Organization Makes

As the 14th week of the 2011 National Football League season approaches, teams are vying for playoff spots on the road to the Super Bowl.  The league is full of talented players, but unfortunately some of them end up playing with poor organizations that stunt their otherwise promising careers.  Other players are fortunate enough to play for well-run football organizations that allow them to maximize their performance and achieve their potential.

NFL teams are businesses.  There is a “culture” within business firms, whether they actively promote it or not.  For example, the Oakland Raiders have a “bad boy” aura around their club that has persisted for years.  The Detroit Lions are developing a similar image with a management and coaching staff hasn’t shown the resolve to control their “man child” Ndamukong Suh.  On the other side of the coin, the New England Patriots football club has maintained an excellence both on and off the field that is the envy of most NFL fans.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are another NFL organization that has displayed consistent excellence over the years, as have the Green Bay Packers.

FoxSports.com releases an annual ranking of football organizations.  These are not power rankings, but an overall view of the excellence of each football organization.  Fox grades each team on six vital categories — owner, quarterback, head coach, front office, coaching staff and intangibles, which include facilities, fan support and public relations.

The 2011 rankings put the Packers as #1 followed by New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and the New England Patriots.  The worst organization goes to the Buffalo Bills, with Carolina, Tennessee, and Cincinnati rounding out the bottom four organizations.  The full Foxsports rankings can be seen at:

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/green-bay-packers-are-best-nfl-organization-in-2011-rankings-060111

As a resident of Minnesota I view the Minnesota Vikings organization with a lot of sadness. They are ranked 25th out of 32 NFL organizations in 2011.  Unfortunately, the Vikings have suffered from poor ownership and management for decades.  You have to go back to the Bud Grant era to find true excellence in the Viking organization.  Each week that I see Adrian Peterson and Jarred Allen working their hearts out on the gridiron I feel badly that they had to play for an organization like the Vikings.  Allen in particular, is an outstanding player and human being.  There is no team in the NFL (including the Packers) that wouldn’t want him on their roster.  Yet, week after week he must play football for a strip mall developer who hasn’t a clue about running a football club.

One wonders what Barry Sanders’ career stats would have looked like if he hadn’t been forced to play for the Lions for nine years.  He retired early and healthy after it became apparent that the Lions were not going to let him go to either the Green Bay Packers or Miami Dolphins.  Where you play and where you work makes a difference.

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