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Minnesota Vikings 28th-most valuable NFL team

Sorry Donovan McNabb, we're still not worth a damn.
Sorry Donovan McNabb, we're still not worth a damn.

The Minnesota Vikings are worth a lot compared to, say, a car, or a turkey sandwich. But compared to other NFL teams, they're not doing well.

Just in time for tonight's opening kickoff of the NFL season, Forbes Magazine has compiled its annual rankings of teams by their estimated value. The Vikings moved up the rankings two spots this year to 28th -- or fifth from last. The only teams worth less than Minnesota are long-terrible teams in cities hit hard by the economy. Even more surprising are some of the teams considered a better buy than the local team.

The Detroit Lions, operating out of a downbeat city that's shrunk to half its size, a team that has never won a single playoff game, are worth about $50 million more than the Vikings.

Hey all you people who want to keep the Vikings in Minnesota: Why don't you just pass around the hat and buy them?

At an estimated value of $796 million, the Vikings are considerably under the league average of $1.04 billion. Most of the teams Minnesota beat out are national punchlines: The Buffalo Bills, the St. Louis Rams, the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars fill out Nos. 29-32, with the Jags valued at $725 million.

Forbes finds that the new, owner-friendly collective bargaining agreement that ended the NFL lockout lifted all boats, including the one being rowed by the Norsemen. But, as so often happens, the rich got richer.

Somehow, this gorgeous building doesn't make the Vikings valuable.
Somehow, this gorgeous building doesn't make the Vikings valuable.

The top 10 teams from last season added an average of 4 percent in total value over last year's estimations. The Dallas Cowboys, still, and maybe always the most valuable team in the NFL, are No. 1 at $1.85 billion. Even the second-ranked Washington Redskins, at $1.55 billion, are nearly twice as valuable as the Vikings.

The fact that neither of those teams is all that good indicates that these rankings speak more to monetizing and playing in a football-friendly environment than actual on-field performance. The best way to get your team value up, apparently, is to be in Texas -- which has the Cowboys at No. 1 and the lowly Texans at No. 6 -- or New York City, where the Giants (No. 4, valued at $1.3 billion) or the Jets (No. 5, at  $1.22 billion) are rolling in the dough.

The rest of the top 10 are teams in major metropolitan areas, with a big, built-in TV audience and ticket base... except for one: The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers come in No. 9, valued at $1.08 billion. It's worth remembering that in order to fill the 73,000-seat Lambeau Field, about one out of four Green Bay residents needs to show up.

Okay, so this is more bad news for Vikings fans. But can you really put a dollar value on the experience of sitting in that gray, cement-filled marshmallow, drinking $10 beers and watching the Vikings get blown out for three quarters before leaving to beat the traffic?

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