Mar 14, 2011
On what could be the first of many Monday mornings with no NFL action (outside of the courts), I thought I would chime in here to give readers an update on where we stand as a company.
I’ve said many times over the years that I’m not exactly a businessman. I took zero business classes in college, and while I do regret that now, I’m generally not that interested in business-related things.
However, while the fantasy industry has been re-invented several times and many companies have come and gone, we’re still here doing the exact same things we were doing in 1995 (admittedly, it was basically only me back then). Through 2010, my company has been in business for 16 years, and we’ve grown in each and every one of those years. So I’m doing something right. Yes, I was fortunate enough to grab onto an industry that has been very popular very early on, but over those 16 years there have been many businesses supposedly run by “businessman” that have gone under.
Basically, my approach has been a conservative one. I could have gone for the gusto and gotten in bed with some investor/venture capital people – and I’ve been approached by them a ton in the past – but I wasn’t comfortable doing that mainly because of the BS factor. I’m more of a lunch pail guy who gets his hands dirty, as opposed to a suit who tries to make money from those who actually do the work.
I passed on the upside potential those kinds of deals could have brought, but I’ve slept well at night knowing I was in complete control of my own destiny. Most importantly, I avoided any serious downside. As I said above, the business has grown in each of our 16 years of existence, and I’ve been content with that growth. I haven’t been looking to explode 300% over a year or two; I’ve been content to grow 10%. In fact, over the last few years, I’ve been content to simply keep the status quo. Business in this country is all about growth, and I’m not sure it’s healthy. Sure, we all want to grow, but what’s so bad about maintaining? Especially in this economy.
It’s possible that I’m simply not greedy, and that lack of greed has enabled my business to excel over the last decade and a half. A lack of greed has helped me keep things very contained, and keep expenses down, both for the business and for our customers (we haven’t raised our subscription price in 16 years, and if anything we’ve lowered it).
And a lack of greed will enable me to withstand the ugliness that is looming in the NFL world.
I’ve annoyed some people over the years by pointing out the hours I work during the season, but I’ve really done that to let people know that I’ve been in the trenches all along and to dispel the notion that I don’t really work as much these days. It is true that we have assembled a larger staff than ever, but that’s simply to keep our product top-notch, and to compete in an incredibly competitive marketplace. The fact of the matter is our staff is literally 500% larger than it was 10 years ago, yet I’m still working the same number of hours as I did in 2001, probably even more. I appreciate the support I’ve received from our customers who have given us their business, and I accept nothing less than 100% effort from myself for that business. In addition, I listen to what our customers want from us, constantly strive to get better in every way possible, offer more and more services and benefits with no increase in price, and along the way strive to inform, educate, and entertain. If that makes me a good businessman, then I guess I am.
Of course, there’s no denying a prolonged NFL lockout would hurt me and my staff. A canceled NFL season in 2011 would be devastating for me personally, since I have a large family and a lot of obligations, and it would be very problematic for my guys Joe Dolan, Matt Camp, and Matt Brown.
I’ve thought about college and CFL fantasy football, but I really don’t see enough interest to make it a viable endeavor and most importantly I’m not confident that we can produce an excellent product. That’s why we stopped doing fantasy baseball, because I wasn’t comfortable with the quality of the product. My wife calls me “all-or-nothing boy” because I’m either 100% in, or I’m out completely. I wouldn’t be 100% in with something other than covering the NFL for fantasy football purposes.
So for as long as it takes, we’re going to sit back and hope that we can once again do what we do best, which is cover the National Football League. As for what we’re going to be doing if there is a long lockout as it appears will be the case, we’re going to be producing our content as usual. I’m still confident there will be a season, and if it takes a while for that to be a reality, we’re going to be ready as always with a ton of content (such as our massive player profiles) to get everyone pumped up for the upcoming NFL campaign. If things drag on a while, my goal is to be able to break the news that the labor situation is over and we’ll have a season. And then very shortly thereafter announce that we’ve got 2011 profiles and projections on all players of note that total about 100,000 words. This stuff takes months to produce, anyway, so when the NFL flips its switch back on, we’ll be ready.
If there is no season, well, that would be quite harsh, especially for me. But we sure as hell aren’t going anywhere. We’ll do what we can to pay the bills, and we’ll reflect all year about how good we had it covering the NFL for a season and we’ll be back more motivated than ever in 2012. I highly doubt it will come to that, but I figured I’d make that clear. For the record, my position on the current labor situation in the NFL is that we’re currently in a process. Each side is looking to get the best deal possible, and both sides seemingly feel the best way to do it is through the courts.
It’s unfortunate that we all have to endure this process, but when you think about it, this is just business. It may not be good business, but it’s just business. I believe the fact that they are going through these lengths is directly tied to how they can’t let the 2011 season slip away: there is too much at stake.
There’s no doubt this NFL labor situation is looking very unfortunate for the fans, but if it’s any solace whatsoever, just these last 4-5 weeks with the prospect of no league up in our grills, we’re all more motivated than ever to crank out the best content in the business.
I’m still 95% sure that’s what we’ll be doing in 2011 – eventually.