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No property delivers, and delivers big, like the National Football League: TV ratings, ticket sales, sponsorships, stars and, yes, controversy.

The league long ago usurped baseball as America’s game. Thanks to its hold on U.S. sports fans, the average NFL franchise is worth about $2.5 billion, up 8 percent over last year, according to Forbes. It has amassed economic power that has made the health of the league vital to a variety of stakeholders, including the stad...

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