Three NFL teams have broken the billion-dollar mark in value, led by Daniel Snyder's Washington Redskins.
The Redskins are worth $1.264 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which compiles such numbers every year. And just about every year since Snyder bought them in 1999, the Skins have been No. 1.
It helps that Snyder owns FedEx Field, the team's home and the largest stadium in the NFL. Snyder's club increased in value by 15 percent in the past year.
Dallas ranks second at $1.063 billion, but has the biggest operating income of $54.3 million. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also owns Texas Stadium and will be getting a new 75,000-seat home in Arlington for the 2009 season that will increase the franchise's worth exponentially.
The defending champion New England Patriots ranked third at $1.040 billion, well ahead of fourth-place Philadelphia ($952 million). As might be expected, the Patriots had the biggest value increase among the top teams, 21 percent.
Interestingly, the largest increase was by Arizona, which ranks 31st overall but heads to a new stadium next season. The Cardinals are up to $673 million, a 22 percent jump.
The only team with lower value than the Cardinals was the Vikings at $658 million.
While Dallas had the most operating income, Oakland had the least, $7.8 million.
Forbes said no American teams outside the NFL are worth $1 billion. The New York Yankees were closest at $950 million in the magazine's last baseball survey before this season.
The only other team to exceed $1 billion in value is the English soccer team Manchester United.
Not surprisingly, the average cost to attend an NFL game has jumped for the 2005 season, with ticket prices increasing 7.9 percent to $58.95.
According to Fan Cost Index conducted by Team Marketing Report, the increase is the largest since 2001, with all 12 teams that made the playoffs last season bumping up ticket costs.
The Patriots, coming off their second straight championship and third in four years, upped their tickets 20.7 percent. New England has the most costly average ticket price of $90.89, up from $75.33 last season.
Dallas raised prices 24.8 percent to a $66.20 average, followed by Atlanta (20.5 percent to $52.67), San Diego (17.1 percent to $54.82), Baltimore (16.9 percent to $62.01), and Arizona (13.2 percent to $44.98).
According to the Saints' Web site, ticket prices were expected to increase 21.1 percent before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. The Saints will not play any games in New Orleans this season.
The Buffalo Bills, at the bottom of the ticket price rankings for the past two seasons, remained there with an average of $39.37 a seat, up 6 percent.
So who has the best uniforms in the NFL? According to a survey conducted by Directions Research Inc., the Cleveland Browns have the league's worst and the Dallas Cowboys have the best. The survey of 1,149 randomly selected Americans also showed fans prefer the togs worn by the Patriots, Steelers, Dolphins and Vikings, in that order.
Getting votes for worst uniform behind the Browns were the Bengals, Packers, Ravens and, yes, the Dolphins. Sort of reminiscent of when Howard Cosell was voted the most liked -- and most disliked -- sportscaster in America.
While the mission of the Arena Football League is not to develop NFL players, it has done a pretty fair job in recent years.
This season, four players who were in the AFL earlier this year have made NFL rosters.
Rashied Davis was a defensive back with San Jose and now is with the Bears. He was the SaberCats' most valuable player and offensive player of the year, with a team-record 44 touchdowns and 264 points. That stood second in the league.
Michael Hawkins is a defensive back with Green Bay after playing for Dallas in the AFL. Guard Tony Wragge made the 49ers after a season with Los Angeles of Arena Football, and place kicker Rob Bironas has gone from the New York Dragons to Tennessee.
In all, there are 24 AFL graduates on NFL rosters entering the season, including Kurt Warner, Mike Vanderjagt and David Patten.
Six NFL quarterbacks are taking aim at the mark for most touchdown passes by a half-dozen players in one season, with a prize of $1 million for charity on the line.
The quarterbacks are Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. As reserves are Eli Manning and Alex Smith, the top pick in each of the last two drafts, whose touchdown throws will be counted if any of the other six quarterbacks don't play.
The idea is for six of them to total 207 touchdown passes, triggering a $500,000 donation by Reebok to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and another $500,000 to be split evenly and donated to each player's personal charities.
In addition, Reebok will make a $50,000 donation to a player's individual charity if he beats the NFL record for touchdown passes in a game (seven). Peyton Manning threw six touchdowns in one game in 2003.
Chris Hovan's last words with the Vikings were "Goodbye, Minnesota," a terse phrase he uttered several times on his way out of the locker room last January when the season ended.
Well, Hovan is headed back this week -- with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for today's opener.
"It's just business," he said, denying any extra emotion. "It's the first of 16 games. It just so happens to be against Minnesota."
Hovan, a first-round draft pick in 2000 whose productivity declined significantly over his final two seasons with Minnesota, said he's now getting the best guidance he's ever had in his career -- from Coach Jon Gruden, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
"I'm very fortunate to be down here," Hovan said.
Asked if he still thinks back about his time with the Vikings, Hovan praised three people in the front office -- Paul Wiggin, Scott Studwell and Rob Brzezinski -- for the help in his development, but he didn't go beyond that.
Inactive for three games last season while rookie Spencer Johnson made his way into the starting lineup, Hovan finished with 17 sacks in five years with Minnesota. The Vikings chose not to re-sign him.
"When a door closes, another one opens," Hovan said.
C.C. Brown wasn't asked to the NFL combine, and in high school he had given up on football and enlisted in the Army by the time he was offered a junior college scholarship.
The Texans gambled that the Mississippi National Guardsman and strong safety wouldn't be called to active duty by picking him in the sixth round. Less than five months later, Brown enters Houston's season opener at Buffalo as a starter.
He'll be the only rookie starting for Houston, a turn of events that has shocked the humble and quiet player.
"I probably won't believe it until Sunday at game time," he said.
The Texans are high on the hard hitter and even harder worker.
"He's a bright guy," Coach Dom Capers said. "He's on top of his assignments, and we look forward to seeing him play every week to see how much progress he's made."
Brown saw plenty of action in the preseason and led the team with 20 solo tackles. In his first game, he had seven tackles and nearly intercepted a pass in the end zone against Denver.
Brown took advantage of the oft-injured Glenn Earl's separated shoulder to snag the spot.
When the Houston defense lines up today, the Louisiana-Lafayette product's stomach will undoubtedly be churning.
"I'm nervous because it's going to be my first NFL game, but I'm going to be all right after the first snap," Brown said. "I feel that I'm ready. I mean, you're going to make mistakes whether you're a rookie or a 10th-year player. The thing is to try not to make too many."
Free safety Marcus Coleman, a 10-year NFL veteran and the unofficial leader of the secondary, agreed and said he'll be there to help Brown.
"He's going to make some mistakes," Coleman said. "I mean, he's young. It kind of comes with the territory. If he does make a mistake, I'm just going to pat him on the back and say, 'Hey you've got to forget about it and let's go onto the next play.' "