I was all set to write something explaining why the implied connection between payroll and competitive balance isn't really much of a connection, but ESPN's Tom Haberstroh did it far better than I or anyone really could. This is really a must-read. Here's the major takeaway.
What we’re seeing is a strong tie between drafting efficiency and win percentage, but not so much for winning and payroll. In fact, draft efficiency alone explains 34 percent of the variability in a team’s record over the past decade. How much does payroll explain?
Just 7 percent -- a tiny amount in comparison.
Just goes to show that no matter the system, it's all about good management. Good teams have it. Bad teams don't and can't cheat their way to success with it. This is why I generally think the "competitive balance" argument the owners keep bringing up is somewhere between misguided and disingenuous. The real issue here is money and profitability, not competition.