Should Jeff Bezos Buy the Seattle Seahawks?

Prominent NFL owners have been pressuring Bezos to buy the Seattle franchise

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According to reports, many prominent NFL owners want Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to buy the Seattle Seahawks, a team that may soon be up for sale in the wake of Paul Allen's passing. (His sister and heir, Jody, doesn't want to run the Seahawks or Allen's NBA team, the Portland Trail Blazers.) For the NFL, Bezos buying in would achieve two things at once: It would keep the Seahawks rooted in Seattle, an important West Coast market for the NFL, and it would all but guarantee Amazon's money flowing into the league in some capacity.

While American tech giants have dipped toes into the live sports broadcast game, the NFL is anxious for someone (Apple, Amazon, Facebook) to commit to a more substantial broadcast agreement. While traditional cable providers will always be in the market for live TV rights, a pact with a tech company could potentially be more lucrative for the NFL. Since the NFL's business has always been about squeezing every dollar out of every possible partnership, the prospect of Bezos buying into the league is tantalizing.

But does the Bez believe in the future of football?

Unlike Comcast or Spectrum—who have cut major deals with teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers whether they might not be able to fulfill if current cable TV trends continue—Amazon has money to burn. The NFL is still American sports’ live television behemoth; franchise values have ballooned over the past decade, and they're still rising. As an investment, it's a no-brainer. Jerry Jones paid $140 million for the Cowboys in 1989 and the team is now worth $4.8 billion. Bezos likely isn't being held up by the sticker price because, of all the American sports leagues, the NFL has proven to be the surefire wealth-maker. He couldn't lose.

While it's far too early to speculate that Bezos is leaning one way or the other, whatever he decides should be telling about the health of the sport, which is plagued by health issues and growing disinterest. (Additionally, the NFL has far and away the weakest players' union. Of the four major sports, the NFL's players are by far the least financially protected despite playing the most violent American sport.)

Once upon a time, cultural commentator Malcolm Gladwell predicted that football would be dead in a couple decades' time. If Bezos declines to buy the Seahawks, we could very well look back at this moment as the one that sealed the NFL's fate.

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