While we're all wondering who will buy the Buffalo Bills and whether or not the team stays in Western New York, don't under estimate the power of the NFL owners who will ultimately decide if the franchise stays or goes.
In fact, the NFL was most likely doing its "due diligence" on potential buyers for the Bills before Ralph Wilson passed away. That according to Daniel Kaplan who covers the NFL and financial stories for Sports Business Journal.
“Absolutely. I would be shocked if they weren’t" Kaplan told WGR during an interview on Monday. "It would shock me if they didn’t have a list of individuals or groups in the Buffalo area or elsewhere that they’d be comfortable with.”
Conducting background checks on potential owners before a team was put on the market, is exactly what the NFL did with the most recent sales involving the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns.
“In the case of the Browns, no one even knew the team was for sale and it was pretty much done, if you look at it from an investment banking perspective, by the National Football League itself" Kaplan said.
“This is just not a situation where the Bills trust is trying to sell the team, find an owner and you’re done. The National Football League has a tremendous say in the matter.”
Before a franchise sale can be completed, league officials have to sign off on the new owner or owners. The Finance Committee must then give its approval and following that it goes before the other 31 owners, 24 of whom must approve of the deal.
Kaplan said the number one thing owners will look at when considering a potential sale to local interests, will be long term viability.
“They don’t want the Bills, over the next 10, 15 or 20 years if they are in Buffalo, to be a drain on the National Football League" Kaplan told WGR. "That means it’s a drain on them. It means they want to see a viable stadium option in Buffalo but I don’t know if that’s going to be known by the time the team is sold.”
One "x" factor could be the presence of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who of course is a Western New York native and could be Buffalo's biggest ally in the board room but Kaplan says that allegiance will only go so far.
"He will have enormous impact on the sale but at end of day he is a businessman In my heart, if he believes that the Bills don’t have a viable stadium situation in Buffalo, he’ll recommend to move it. But I do know that he will work as hard as he can to insure that does not occur.”
You can listen to the entire interview with Daniel Kaplan: