👋 Good morning! Today's newsletter is one of my favorites ever. See you at the bottom.
Today's word count: 1,738 words (6 minutes).
Private equity giant Silver Lake Partners has agreed to invest $500 million for a ~10% stake in City Football Group, owner of reigning English Premier League champs, Manchester City, and seven other soccer clubs around the world.
Why it matters: The deal makes CFG, now valued at $4.8 billion, the world's most valuable soccer group, as well as the second most valuable enterprise in all of sports, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys ($5 billion, per Forbes).
The backdrop: After buying Manchester City in 2008 and quickly turning it into a juggernaut on and off the field through massive spending, CFG began purchasing teams in key global markets, hoping to replicate its success elsewhere.
How it works: Each club has one person in charge of the business (COO) and one person in charge of the soccer (director), both of whom report to CFG. In certain cases, women's teams have also been launched and brought into the fold.
The bottom line: CFG is at the apex of what it means to be a 21st century sports business — a mixture of sports, content/media, technology and worldwide reach.
Go deeper: Inside the Manchester City Football Group (Book excerpt)
Through 13 weeks, the NFC East is a dumpster fire. The Cowboys sit in first despite not having beaten a winning team, the Eagles are extremely "meh" and the Redskins and Giants are two of the league's worst teams.
Why it matters: With six non-division games left, the NFC East is 10-26 against the rest of the NFL, good for an awful 0.277 winning percentage.
Go deeper: The NFL's worst divisions since realignment, ranked (The Ringer)
Note: Since we were off for two weeks, the arrows represent that team's movement since the last time I published one of these (Nov. 14).
Left to right: Mets president Saul Katz, majority owner Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon. Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The New York Mets are in the process of being sold to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen, who is currently a minority owner in the team.
Why it matters: This would represent a massive change in the landscape of New York sports and a new chapter for the beloved, if troubled, Mets franchise.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Roy Williams was not happy about suffering the most lopsided home loss of his Tar Heel career, as No. 7 UNC fell to No. 6 Ohio State, 74-49. After only trailing 29-27 at halftime!
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In his first-ever start, Sasha Stefanovic scored a career-high 20 points and unranked Purdue shut down No. 2 Virginia, 69-40.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Jalen Smith (15 points, 16 rebounds, 5 blocks) and No. 3 Maryland cruised past Notre Dame, 72-51.
The XFL revealed the uniforms and helmet designs for all eight teams on Tuesday night.
P.S. ... XFL balls are also color coordinated. During games, the team on offense will use a custom ball featuring their color scheme. Sounds like the newly-designed ball could lead to better performance, too...
"The ball has different pebbling (the little bumps spread over a football) in tiny, interconnected X shapes instead of the traditional grains, which arguably makes for better gripping. [It] also has a different internal system that helps evenly balance weight so the ball does not flutter as much."— Daniel Kaplan, The Athletic (subscription)
In 1986, Mike Schmidt won the NL MVP award. In 1987, the Phillies paid him $2.1 million — the third highest salary in the league behind only Boston's Jim Rice ($2.4 million) and Baltimore's Eddie Murray ($2.5 million).
Online retailer Fanatics had its best start to the holiday shopping season ever, the company confirmed to Axios. And get this: 70% of all sales this past weekend came via mobile.
It had been expected that 61-year-old NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who makes as much as $40 million annually, would retire in the next few years. But now, some think he might stick around.
Photo: Collegiate Images via Getty Images
27 years ago today, Alabama beat Florida, 28-21, in college football's first conference championship game.
Why it mattered: All 10 FBS conferences now play a championship game, and the landscape of college football has shifted several times over the last two decades as leagues tried to hit the magic number of 12 to allow them to hold one.
Go deeper: ESPN documentary "The Play That Changed College Football" explores how different things might be if Florida had won, thereby preventing Alabama from playing Miami for the national title and potentially killing the conference championship experiment in its tracks.
John John Florence (left) and Kelly Slater. Photo: Kelly Cestari/World Surf League via Getty Images
Growing up on Hawaii's North Shore, John John Florence's favorite pro surfer was Kelly Slater. Then Slater moved in next door and became a mentor, friend and ultimately rival, as Florence became a star in his own right.
The intrigue: As surfing prepares for its Olympics debut in Tokyo, Florence and Slater are vying for Team USA's final spot and it will be decided this month at the Billabong Pipe Masters on waves that break just feet from their houses. Sometimes life can be poetic.
What they're saying (per NYT):
Answer at the bottom.
Kendall "Team Slater" Baker
Trivia answer: LeBron James (4th), Carmelo Anthony (18th), Vince Carter (20th)