Just as soccer is the king of the sports world, the NFL is the monarch of North American professional sports. This fact is seen in the latest list of the world's most valuable sports teams that was published by Forbes on July 16.
One half of the top 20 slots on the list consists of NFL franchises. What may be surprising to some is that not all of the teams mentioned below have won a Super Bowl.
In fact, a club that is in the top five has never before even played on pro football's biggest stage.
Here are the 10 most valuable NFL teams in 2014.
10 San Francisco 49ers -- Value: $1.224 billion
One pass tipped by Richard Sherman aside, it's not a bad time to be associated with the 49ers. San Francisco will once again be favorites to, at the very least, qualify for the postseason. The Seattle Seahawks, rivals of the Niners, will have to avoid the dreaded Super Bowl hangover.
San Fran is about to play the team's first season in the brand new Levi's Stadium. The club netted $220 million for the naming rights of that venue.
Don't discount the value that comes with professional athletes playing with chips on their shoulders. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick is going to want to match the feats accomplished by Seahawks signal-caller Russell Wilson one season ago, and you can be sure that the Niners haven't forgotten about last January's NFC title game.
9 Baltimore Ravens -- Value: $1.227 billion
It's yet another shot to fans of the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore has what was once your team, and the Ravens posses two replica Vince Lombardi Trophies that should reside in Berea, Ohio.
The old Browns are also more valuable than the new Browns.
Baltimore last season went through what the Seahawks are about to deal with in 2014. That lackluster campaign behind them, the Ravens are, on paper, a team capable of winning the AFC North. From there, anything can happen in a postseason tournament.
8 Chicago Bears -- Value: $1.252 billion
So much about the Bears are a throwback. Their uniforms bring with them visions of the days of old. Chicago plays at Soldier Field, the smallest NFL Stadium in the United States (the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum isn't an NFL-specific stadium).
The Bears could be set to make some history this coming fall. Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall make up what is arguably the most exciting wide receiver duo in the NFL. Quarterback Jay Cutler will, if the Bears are to go on a run, need to take that next step into the top-tier of NFL QBs.
It could happen.
7 Philadelphia Eagles -- Value: $1.314 billion
Unlike NFC East rivals the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles have never once possessed the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The days of those “empty trophy” jokes may be nearing an end, however, as Philly fans have plenty of reasons to feel positive about the team's immediate future.
While the sample size is unquestionably small, one cannot deny the numbers put up by quarterback Nick Foles during the 2013 season. Foles was, during a stretch of time in the fall, the best QB in the NFL, better than the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. He could be the best signal-caller in the NFC East heading into August preseason games.
6 New York Jets -- Value: $1.38 billion
The Jets cannot escape the “little brother” complex that has haunted them for decades. They finally got to stop playing home games in “Giants Stadium,” only to then get beaten by their same-city/same-stadium rivals in the first meaningful match-up between the two that occurred at MetLife Stadium. Gang Green could then do nothing but sit back and watch as the G-Men won the first Super Bowl in the MetLife era.
The bad news continues for the Jets. They were 23rd in home attendance during the 2013 NFL regular season. Remember that it could be worse, NYJ fans.
You could root for the Eagles.
5 Houston Texans -- Value: $1.45 billion
The Texans were, for several consecutive years not that long ago, perceived to be legitimate championship contenders. Then came the 2013 NFL regular season. Houston struggled right out of the gate, and they finished the season with the worst record in the league.
Fans of the Texans looking for a bright light to break through the darkness need only dream of the team's future defensive line that will include J.J. Watt and rookie Jadeveon Clowney. Sure, there are some concerns about Clowney's work ethic and about his health (sports hernia).
He could be an all-time great if he becomes all that he is advertised to be.
4 New York Giants -- Value: $1.55 billion
Despite a disappointing 2013 regular season, fans of the Giants still have plenty of reasons to smile and feel optimistic about the upcoming campaign.
The G-Men have twice hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy since February 2008. New York's offense has, in Eli Manning, a quarterback who is a two-time Super Bowl champion, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, and a leader who has engineered Super Bowl-winning drives on two occasions.
There are at least 20 NFL franchises who would trade places with the Giants.
Granted, the window for Manning to win one more title is closing. Don't close the curtain on that window yet. Manning is 100 percent healthy, and he will be working with a new offensive system that should exceed that of New York's one season ago.
3 Washington Redskins -- Value: $1.7 billion
It is, even as on-the-field activities loom ahead, impossible to talk about the Redskins without at least noticing the elephant in the room. Pressure continues to grow on owner Daniel Snyder to change the name of the club.
Heck, multiple outlets are now refusing to even print or mention the name.
The shame of it all is that Washington has plenty of talent on the roster. Quarterback Robert Griffin III is a star on the field and in advertisements, and he is hardly the only good player on the team. It would be in the best interests of literally everybody involved for this issue to disappear entirely.
Make it so, Dan.
2 New England Patriots -- Value: $1.8 billion
One can't help but wonder if the Patriots are nearing the end of an era. Quarterback Tom Brady isn't getting any younger. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is very beat up for a player who turned 25 years old last May. The Aaron Hernandez scandal was obviously unsettling to behold, and it also erased a true play-maker from the New England offense.
The Pats are, in some ways, similar to the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. People keep waiting for age to catch up with both, and both continue to contend for titles every season. Expect no less from the Patriots in 2014.
1 Dallas Cowboys -- Value: $2.3 billion
That is the last time that the most valuable franchise in all of the NFL won a Super Bowl. Division rivals the Giants, by comparison, have since thrice played in the Big Game, and the G-Men have won it on two occasions during that stretch.
I'm sure that fans of America's Team are delighted to know that Jerry Jones controls so much equity. Big D' are represented by fans all over the country, largely because of the success the team enjoyed in its storied past.
That fan base deserves better, and it's on Jones to deliver it to those customers.
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