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Owning The Texans: For Love Or Money?

When Spencer Tillman talks about EBITDA, is that a tell?

NFL: International Series-Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
When not making racist jokes, Cal McNair can also be seen watching his team play football.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This story starts with one of the most inane things I have ever heard in my life.

Eventually, reaction to that statement upset Spencer.

“Finantial (sic) dumpster-fire.”

Tillman continued by focusing on the financial aspect of the Texans.

Well, Spence, there are lots of general managers that have been in salary cap hell. Even the Texans! It’s not new. I responded, and the financial discussion continued.

Before I continue, I get it. Spencer Tillman is a mouthpiece for the front office. For years, he has deemed virtually every Texans player the best at his position regardless of actual, you know, facts. Spencer’s role has been to be the biggest cheerleader for the team because, hey, he knows where his bread is (often) buttered. We’re all hustlers. I get it.

My worry is, when Tillman is at HQ on Kirby, is this what he’s hearing? Is this the message the front office is sending internally?

Let’s pause for a moment. Just what is EBITDA, anyway? EBITDA = earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Basically, what is the company’s profitability on the business side. In this case, the company is the Texans.

While we’re on the topic of financial statements, please allow me to introduce you to the term “goodwill.” Goodwill includes non-tangible assets such as customer loyalty and brand reputation. Do a bunch of fundraisers for local charities? Goodwill. Punching every fifth customer? Not goodwill. Get it? Got it? Good. When you are an NFL franchise, loyalty and brand recognition are slightly important.

One more important little thing: when Jamey Rootes was the President for the Texans, his primary function was decoupling financial performance from the on-field performance. For context, the McNairs are worth about $4.3BB dollars. Let’s say you’re worth $1MM. Good for you! I’m totes jelly! For every $1MM Nick Caserio saves the McNairs, you have saved $250. It’s what the McNairs tip skycaps (I hope!).

My point is, do you see how irrelevant the money is? It’s meaningless. No matter the savings he reaps from the Texans’ operations, Cal McNair will still have plenty of money left to buy Battlefield 2042. Promise.

So, how’s this for EBITDA?

How is this for goodwill?

Caserio’s focus, aside from COMPETITION, was restructuring contracts, but to no apparent end. Nothing was done with the money that was freed up.

Let’s bring this to a not-so-happy-ending. One of the primary mouthpieces for the Houston Texans is talking about EBITDA. Caserio restructures a bunch of contracts without doing anything with the extra cash.

In the meantime, nobody is showing up to the games, and merchandise sales are way down. I mean, whose jersey are you going to buy? Justin Britt? Lonnie Johnson, Jr. (which I hear is delivered already burnt)? Concessions and merch bring in a lot of dough. Cal is getting none of that, or at least far, far less than he used to.

For my money, every indication seems to be that Caserio’s primary focus is to make extraordinarily rich people just a bit more rich. The problem is that the Texans are ignoring the other non-EBITDA factors like goodwill.

In other words, the Texans’ front office is running the franchise into the ground because they don’t understand how successful teams operate. I get that Caserio is facing an uphill battle and there’s plenty of salary fat on the roster, but he seems to care more about enabling Failson than he does about improving an NFL team. He’ll need to prove to me otherwise in the future (as an aside: I don’t understand the blind faith I am supposed to have in Caserio any more than I was supposed to trust Bill O’Brien. Didn’t we see how well that worked out?).

I’m so sorry, Spencer. As a fan of the Houston Texans, I would like to have a team that competes for the Super Bowl, not one that make billionaires just a tad more money. That’s on me.