It’s one of the most exclusive clubs in America: NFL ownership.
But who are the men and women behind your favorite franchises?
The MMQB tells you everything you need to know—where they went to school, how they made their wealth, how they spend that wealth in the political arena and more.
Note: All political donation data via Federal Election Committee.
William V. Bidwill | Chairman and Owner | Age: 86
William (Bill) Bidwill largely leaves day-to-day operations of the Cardinals to his son Michael Bidwill, who has served as team president since 2007.
Education: Georgetown University
How They Acquired the Franchise: The team has been owned by the Bidwell family since 1932, the year Charles Bidwill purchased the then-Chicago Cardinals for $50K (the equivalent of ~$918K in 2018). Bill and his older brother Charles Bidwill Jr. jointly inherited the Cardinals in 1962 from their mother, Violet Bidwill. He then took over sole ownership of the team in ’72 when he bought out Charles Jr.
Net Worth: $1.4 billion (per Forbes in 2015)
Franchise Valuation: $2.15 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: The Bidwills have made the majority of their wealth from the Cardinals, watching the team appreciate from $50K to $2.15 billion.
In the Owner’s Words: Speaking to The MMQB in 2016 about the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Michael, the chair of the Conduct Committee, said: “Arrests were down by 38% between 2014 and ’15, so clearly the two years of training we’ve been doing and the emphasis on proper conduct, the message has gotten through. And I think we’re going in the right direction. Certainly there is more we can do. I just had a meeting with some of the college athletic directors along with some of the league staff out here in Phoenix around the national championship game to emphasize that we’re hopeful the message is getting down to the colleges. And it is that if you want to play in the NFL, you’ve got to make sure that you’re not making mistakes during college. It’s really important that we continue to push that message down to the colleges and high schools, not just because of the careers of future football players, but also because it’s the right thing to do.”
Political Donations: Per FEC filings dating back to 1997, Bill Bidwill has donated tens of thousands to the Republican National Committee, and contributed to the presidential campaigns of both Mitt Romney and John McCain. On the state level, while Bidwill has primarily donated to Republican candidates, he also has donated to the Arizona Democratic Party and several Democratic candidates for office, including Gabrielle Giffords.
NFL Committees:Michael: Health and Safety Committee; Stadium Committee; Stadium Security and Fan Behavior Committee (Chairman); Business Ventures Committee; Conduct Committee (Chairman); Workplace Diversity Committee; NFL Foundation Board.
Next in Line: Given his role as team president, it’s widely assumed Michael will eventually take over as chairman and owner.
Arthur Blank | Chairman and Owner | Age: 75
Education: Babson College
How They Acquired the Franchise: Blank purchased the team from Taylor Smith, the son of the original Falcons owner, in 2002 for $545 million.
Net Worth: $4.3 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.475 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Blank co-founded Home Depot in 1978. While he retired from the company in 2001, he reportedly owns 34 million shares of the world’s largest home-improvement retailer. In addition to the Falcons, Blank also owns Atlanta United FC and is the chairman of the PGA Tour Superstore golf chain.
In the Owner’s Words: On his decision to buy the Falcons, Blank told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: “I can either sit on the sidelines for the next 30 years of my life and complain … or [I can] try to buy it and fix it. ... My personality, the way I function, is to buy it and fix it.”
Political Donations: Blank has largely donated to Democratic causes, most notably: $32,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2013; $28,500 to the Obama Victory Fund in ’08; and $25,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund in ’16. Blank has donated to Republicans, as well, in smaller amounts: $10,000 to Georgia Republican Party, Inc., in ’08 and $2,500 to Romney Victory, Inc., in ’12.
NFL Committees: Legislative Committee, Conduct Committee, Workplace Diversity Committee, Finance Committee, Audit Committee (Chairman), Compensation Committee (Chairman).
Next in Line: Blank has six children, none of whom are actively involved with the team.
Steve Bisciotti | Owner | Age: 58
Education: Salisbury State University
How They Acquired the Franchise: In 2000, Bisciotti bought a minority interest (49% of the team) from Art Modell for about $300 million. Then, on April 9, 2004, Bisciotti completed the purchase for $600 million to become the second-youngest majority owner in the NFL (Washington’s Dan Snyder is the youngest). According to the Ravens, his initial investment in the team provided the funds needed to secure free agents for the 2000 Super Bowl XXXV championship team.
Net Worth: $4.4 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.5 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: At age 23, Bisciotti started Aerotek, an aerospace staffing company, with his cousin Jim Davis. Operating out of a basement, Aerotek made $1.5 million in its first year and grew into Allegis Group, the “largest privately held staffing firm in the world” which brings in $11 billion in revenue annually.
In the Owner’s Words: “I’m O.K. if I’m one of the least-known owners in sports,” Bisciotti was quoted as saying in the Ravens’ biography of him, per The New York Times.
Political Donations: Dating back to 2000, Bisciotti has made several contributions of $5,000 to the Gridiron PAC. His two largest donations were both for $10,000, to the Republican National Committee in ’00 and to the Maryland Republican State Central Committee in ’06. In ’12, Bisciotti also gave two separate donations totaling $5,000 to Democrat Thomas Carper for his “Carper for Senate” campaign.
Kim and Terry Pegula | Owner/President (Kim), Owner/CEO (Terry) | Ages: 49 (Kim) and 67 (Terry)
Education:Kim: Houghton College; Terry: Penn State
How They Acquired the Franchise: The Pegulas purchased the Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion from the estate of Ralph Wilson, who founded the team in 1959 and controlled the franchise until his death in March ’14. The Pegulas—who also bought the Buffalo Sabres (along with the NLL Buffalo Bandits) in 2011 for $189 million—were among a handful of ownership groups that reportedly submitted bids to buy the Bills, including a group led by President Donald Trump and another group that included rock star Jon Bon Jovi.
Net Worth: Terry’s net worth is valued at $4.3 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $1.6 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Terry founded natural gas drilling company East Resources in 1983, thanks to a $7,500 loan from family and friends, and eventually sold some of his company’s assets to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion and American Energy Partners for $1.75 billion in 2014.
In the Owner’s Words: After an apparent touchdown catch by Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was overturned in a 2017 game, Terry criticized the NFL’s replay protocol in an interview with a Buffalo radio station: “Replay was developed by this league to correct obvious mistakes … I don't know what’s going on, but we have to fix it. And I’m not saying that as the owner of the Bills. I’m saying that as a football fan. We can’t have stuff like this happening in our league.”
Political Donations: Together, Terry and Kim have combined to donate nearly $1 million, almost exclusively to Republican entities: $50K over the years to Pat Toomey, thousands for both John Boehner and Paul Ryan, tens of thousands to the Republican National Committee and hundreds of thousands to the Republican Senate Committee. Kim made a one-off $150K contribution to the Romney Victory Inc. fund in 2012 and sent more than $5,000 to Minnesota Republican Karin Housley—a senator campaigning for Al Franken's vacant seat and the wife of current Sabres coach and hockey Hall of Famer Phil Housley—on the final day of ’17.
NFL Committees:Kim: Business Ventures Committee, Super Bowl & Major Events Committee, NFL Foundation Board; Terry: Health & Safety Advisory Committee.
Next in Line: Terry and Kim have three children together—Matthew, Kelly and Jessica—and Terry has two children from a previous marriage, Michael and Laura. None are actively involved with the team.
David Tepper | Owner | Age: 60
Tepper, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh (BA) and Carnegie Mellon University (MBA), recently purchased the Panthers for an NFL-record $2.275 billion. The newest member of the owner’s club is the President and Founder of Appaloosa Management, a hedge fund with a reported $17 billion under management.
There are two things that the other 31 NFL owners must love about David Tepper, who officially took control as the newest owner of the Panthers on July 9.
First, the billionaire 11-times-over knows how to make money, but that’s necessary for entry into this elite club.
The second, and more important fact, is that he made so much of that money by seeing into the future and taking risks the majority wasn’t prepared to take. In the late 2000s, he bet the government would bail out the big banks in the recession. He was right, and he earned billions (the exact figure varies depending on the source) with the wager.
His utility to fellow owners is obvious. Tepper operated one of the most successful hedge funds in American history, and his business savvy is unimpeachable. Within three years, the league and the players will be looking down the barrel of another lockout. The NFL wants all the firepower it can assemble, and Tepper, who for nearly a decade was a minority owner of the Steelers, now has a seat at the table.
His utility locally in Charlotte is equally as obvious. Tepper follows Jerry Richardson—the only owner the team has known—who removed himself from league matters years ago after his push for a Los Angeles solution fell through, who unceremoniously put his team up for sale after multiple allegations of workplace misconduct, who hasn’t granted a press conference since the last NFL lockout and who twice presided over an NFC championship team but never hoisted the Lombardi.
Tepper already appears far more accessible than Richardson. He’s clearly more outspoken, calling the then-Republican nominee Donald Trump “the father of lies” before the election, giving an emotional speech at his alma mater’s commencement and commenting on two different reporters’ hairstyles days later after being approved as the newest owner.
All that winning he has done in boardrooms has led him here. Now he wants to win on the field.
“When you look at him being part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” veteran Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said, “I think the proof is in the pudding when you look at their history as a championship football program. We’re looking forward to him being that same thing here.” — Jonathan Jones
Virginia Halas McCaskey | Owner | Age: 95
Virginia’s son, George Halas McCaskey, is the Chairman of the team and oversees day-to-day operations of the team.
How They Acquired the Franchise: The team was originally purchased for $100 by George Halas in 1920. Virginia, his daughter, inherited the team when he died in November ’83. George Halas Jr. (Virginia’s brother) had been the next in line, but he died suddenly on the last day of the ’79 season. When Ralph Wilson died in 2014, Virginia became the oldest owner in the NFL.
Net Worth: The entire McCaskey family is worth $1.3 billion (per Forbes in 2015)
Franchise Valuation: $2.85 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: The family’s wealth stems from the Bears, as it owns 80% of the billion dollar franchise.
In the Owner’s Words: From Virginia in 2018, on her philosophy as an NFL owner: “Our Hall of Fame General Manager, Jim Finks, used to say, ‘Do the right thing.’ Those are pretty good words for any situation, including running a professional sports team.”
Despite repeated questioning, the senior members of the family have insisted the team will remain in their collective hands. George McCaskey said in 2017: “I’ve said it the same way every time. We have no intention of selling. My brother, Pat, says it very well. We intend to hold onto the Bears until the second coming. My brother, Mike, when he was president of the Bears, said it very well. We want to discourage people from even making inquiries. We have no intention [of selling]. There is no price. We have no intention.”
Political Donations: Virginia McCaskey has been a steady contributor over the last few years, doling out more than $70K in total. She's given a few thousand to local politicians—most notably $2K to Andrew McKenna's Senate bid in 2003-04. McKenna is the son of minority owner Andrew McKenna Sr. She gave $4K from ’09-10 to Family PAC Federal, a pro-Republican group that has contributed to campaigns of politicians such as Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. She has not been directly linked to any major politicians, though her contributions tend to lean to the right.
NFL Committees:All George: Stadium Committee, Stadium Security and Fan Behavior Committee, Super Bowl & Major Events Advisory Committee, International Committee, Conduct Committee, Workplace Diversity Committee, Hall of Fame Committee.
Next in Line: Virginia represents her 13 children and grandchildren as the chief holder of 80% of the Bears. The other ~20% is jointly owned by Andrew McKenna Sr. (former director and chairman of McDonald's) and Patrick Ryan (founder of consulting firm Aon—formerly based in Chicago—that sponsored Manchester United until 2014 and had its New York offices in the WTC in September ’01). McKenna Sr. is a former director at Aon as well.
Ted Phillips is the President/CEO (Virginia is notoriously hands-off), and he's the first non-Halas to occupy that role.
George McCaskey, the current team chairman, is probably next in line. But Virginia has nine other children and dozens of grandchildren to choose from as well. (Her second-oldest son, Tim, passed away in 2011.)
Mike Brown | President | Age: 82
Education: Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School
How They Acquired the Franchise: Paul Brown, Mike's father, helped found the Bengals in 1968, a few years after he was fired as coach of the Browns by Art Modell. Paul and a series of partners paid a $7.7 million expansion fee to bring the Bengals into the AFL, which would merge with the NFL in ’70. While Brown only owned 10% of the team, he became coach and GM and had autonomy over the business and football operations. Over the years, Brown worked to purchase the majority of shares, and in 2011 he paid $200 million to purchase an additional 30%, giving the Brown family 500 of the franchise's 586 shares.
Mike Brown inherited the team after Paul’s death in 1991.
Net Worth: $925 million (per ESPN in 2015)
Franchise Valuation: $1.8 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Being an NFL coach was profitable even in the middle part of the 20th century. Paul Brown turned that into an ownership stake in the Bengals, and then used team profits to purchase more shares of the team. Paul passed the majority share of the team—and hefty salaries—down to his progeny.
In the Owner’s Words: When asked about the outside perception of how he runs the franchise, Mike said (per the Ringer), “I’m not deaf to outside opinion. I’m aware of it. That doesn’t mean I always agree. I’ll do what I think I should do. You have the freedom to tell me that I shouldn’t. And you do. Fine. That ain’t gonna change.”
Political Donations: Mike Brown has been a consistent contributor to Republicans in the Upper Midwest for years. He’s doled out tens of thousands to representative Steve Chabot, and another ~$30K for current representative Brad Wenstrup since he took office in 2013. He has also given a couple thousand intermittently to candidates such as George W. Bush, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, plus a $10K donation to the Romney Victory Fund in ’12. He also gave a $15K donation to the RNC in '00 and a separate $5K donation to the RNC in '12 that mistakenly listed his employer as the Cincinnati Beagals.
NFL Committees: Management Council Executive Committee.
Next in Line: His daughter Katie (Brown) Blackburn and her husband Troy would be prime candidates. They presently serve as Executive Vice President and Vice President, respectively, and handle most of the day-to-day and media relations roles for the team. Mike’s brother Pete had been Vice President of Player Personnel until his death in 2017.
Jimmy and Dee Haslam | Owners | Ages: 64 (Jimmy and Dee)
Education:Jimmy and Dee: University of Tennessee
How They Acquired the Franchise: The Haslams purchased the Browns from Randy Lerner for $1.05 billion in 2012. At the time, he received a 70% share of the team, with the remaining 30% coming in ’16.
Net Worth: $3.7 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $1.95 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Jimmy Haslam (III) is the son of Jim Haslam, Jr., who founded Pilot Corp (the largest diesel fuel retailer in America) in 1958. The elder Haslam initiated his soon-to-be-famous truck stop company by buying one Virginia gas station for $6,000. Jimmy joined the company in ’76 and became vice president in ’80. Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway bought a 38.6% stake of Pilot Corp in October 2017, and by ’23, the Haslams will own only 20% of the company.
Pilot Corp became embroiled in a fraud scandal in early 2013, just six months after Haslam’s purchase of the Browns was approved. “No prosecuting authority has found reason to bring charges against Mr. Haslam … so that’s where we leave it,” an NFL official told CBS’s Jason La Canfora.
In the Owner’s Words: “The fact that this franchise has not done better … the blame lies squarely with me,” Jimmy said after the 2015 season. “Because ultimately it’s the head person who’s responsible for everything.” The team has gone 1-31 in the two seasons since.
Political Donations: Jimmy’s brother Bill, a Republican, is the current governor of Tennessee. Jimmy, his father and his brother teamed up to give $112.5K to the American Crossroads super PAC, a conservative group that spent nearly $85 million campaigning against Barack Obama in 2012. Jim, Jimmy and Dee also gave $100K in total to the Jeb Bush super PAC Right to Rise in ’16. Jim and Jimmy have also given $41K combined to the conservative Volunteer PAC from ’01 to ’06.
NFL Committees:Jimmy: Investment Committee (Chairman); Media Committee, Business Ventures Committee, Hall of Fame Committee; Dee: Legislative Committee, Conduct Committee.
Jerry Jones | Owner, President, General Manager | Age: 75
Education: University of Arkansas
How They Acquired the Franchise: Jones purchased the Cowboys for $140 million from H.R. “Bum” Bright in 1989, marking the first time a sports team was purchased for more than $100 million. Per Jones, at the time of purchase, the Cowboys were losing $1 million a month.
Net Worth: $5.6 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $4.8 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: In the early 1970s, Jones started an oil and gas exploration business in Arkansas and reportedly struck gas in the first wells his company drilled. In 1982, he bought oil leases for $15 million and after investing $35 million more in drilling and other costs, the company that sold him those leases bought out him and his partner for $175 million. The Jones family has long been wealthy—his father sold his Modern Security Life Insurance Company for millions.
The Cowboys, however, have been far and away Jones’s greatest investment.
In the Owner’s Words: “In my life, in my career, I’ve had many times when I could be more aggressive because of the financial shape that I was in and times I had to be pretty conservative because of the financial shape I was in,” Jones said to ESPN in 2014. “That’s the art of the deal is to make the adjustments. Now, you would say wouldn't it be better to get ahead of it and not have to make adjustments. The one who can look in that crystal ball, I want to meet, whether it be managing our salary cap or just business in general.”
Political Donations: Jones has been a steady Republican contributor over the years. Most notably, he shelled out $200K to America Leads, a 2016 super PAC that gave out nearly $18 million in support of Chris Christie's presidential bid. Glenstone Limited Partnership, of which Jones is president, donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. Elsewhere, he’s also contributed thousands to local Texan Republicans, Christie, Rick Perry and George Bush; more than $26K to the RNC in ’08; $10K for John Boehner's speaker campaign in ’14; and $28.5K to McCain's victory fund in ’08.
NFL Committees:Jerry: Hall of Fame Committee (Chairman), NFL Network Committee (Chairman), Media Committee, Health & Safety Advisory Committee, Management Council Executive Committee; Jerry Jr.: Digital Media Committee; Stephen: Competition and Stadium Committee; Charlotte: Conduct Committee.
Next in Line: Stephen Jones is the team’s COO/director of personnel and “Jerry’s right-hand man.” His other children, Charlotte (the executive vice president and chief brand officer) and Jerry Jr. (the executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer), could also be in the mix.
The Bowlen Family Trust
The Broncos ownership transition is among the most unusual in recent NFL history for one reason: None of Pat Bowlen‘s seven children have made careers in the NFL. While several have held positions or interned with the organization, the clan has remained disconnected from the day-to-day operation of the franchise valued at more than $2 billion. This has prompted Bowlen to designate a three-person trust tasked with determining the future of the team in the event of his death or illness.
The trust went on the clock in 2014 when Pat Bowlen stepped away from the club, revealing he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The group—consisting of team president Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Slivka and Denver attorney Mary Kelly—last year received a five-year extension from the NFL to perform their mandate: either determine that a member of the Bowlen family has earned the right to run the team, or sell the club if no viable candidate emerges. In the meantime, longtime club president and CEO Joe Ellis has represented the Broncos at NFL owners meetings and has assumed all hiring and firing power within the organization.
Meanwhile, the ownership limbo has sparked a family feud, with Beth Bowlen Wallace, Pat’s 47-year-old daughter, declaring her dissatisfaction with current management and a desire to own the team in statements this summer. While Bowlen Wallace has the support of Pat’s two brothers, she was promptly rebuked by the trust as under-qualified. It’s believed that 28-year-old Brittany Bowlen is the favorite to win approval of the trust instead. After graduating from Duke with an MBA this summer, Brittany has been working for renowned global management firm McKinsey & Company, and prior to that was a member of the NFL’s apprenticeship program in New York. She is expected to join the Broncos as an employee at some point early in the five-year window. — Robert Klemko
Martha Firestone Ford | Owner, Chairman | Age: 92
Education: Vassar College
How They Acquired the Franchise: Her late husband, William Clay Ford Sr., purchased the team from a consortium of 144 shareholders for $4.5 million in 1963, on the same day JFK was assassinated in Dallas.
Net Worth: $1.5 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $1.7 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Martha’s grandfather was tire manufacturer Harvey Firestone, and her husband’s grandfather was the immortal car manufacturer Henry Ford. The two married in 1947 in what local papers called “the biggest society wedding in Akron’s history” and “the biggest show Akron has seen in years.”
In the Owner’s Words: Responding to President Donald Trump’s call for league owners to fire players who disrespect the flag by protesting, Ford wrote in a statement, “Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation. Thanks primarily to our players, the NFL also has been a unifying force in our country and impactful change has and hopefully will continue to be the result of peaceful expression, done so in order to highlight social injustices of all kind.
“Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.”
Political Donations: Martha donated $1K to Paul Ryan in 2016. Her son, William Clay Ford Jr., has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Michigan Republican Party, $28K in total to joint fundraisers that overwhelmingly support Republicans, $20K to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and another $10K to the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee in ’12. All of those donations were under the title of chairman of Ford, not under any direct affiliation to the Lions.
Next in Line: Martha’s son William Clay Ford Jr. is currently both the vice chairman of the Lions and the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers, Inc.
The Packers pride themselves on being the only publicly-owned, not-for-profit, major league professional team in the United States. Instead of having one owner or a handful of partners like every other NFL team, the Packers are owned by hundreds of thousands of fans. In 1923, four years after the team was founded, the fledgling Packers found themselves on the verge of bankruptcy, so they sold shares to the community to keep the lights on. The team has held four additional stock offerings since the original in ‘23, and according to the team’s website, there are currently 360,760 shareholders who own a total of 5,011,558 shares. More than 269,000 shares were sold in the most recent offering that began in December 2011.
This isn’t your average stock. There’s no profiting off shares. No lucky Green Bay fan will get rich off the team’s next Super Bowl win because the stock pays no dividends and isn’t tradeable or saleable. There’s hardly even a point to owning more than one share because the articles of incorporation prohibit any individual from becoming too powerful. No one can own more than 200,000 shares. The stock isn’t currently available, but the price of a single stock in the last offering ($250) bought shareholders a souvenir certificate to hang up on the wall, the chance to buy exclusive shareholders-only merchandise and an invite to the annual shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field during training camp.
Without the ability to profit or weigh in on any important team decisions, owning a share of the Packers is essentially buying a lifetime membership to a Packers fan club. Green Bay shareholder Alex Stevens says the fan club characterization is selling it short. “The benefit that we get is that our team is run by board members and their only real goal is to make money so the franchise survives and that happens by the team winning,” Stevens says. ”So we don’t have to worry about an owner falling in love with a player in the draft and overriding the general manager.”
Packers shareholders vote to elect Green Bay’s board of directors and a seven-member executive committee that represents the team at league meetings, but they have no real say in team decisions, football or otherwise.
“I definitely don’t feel like part of an owner,” says Green Bay native and shareholder Brett VandeWalle. “Let’s be real—there are other people that make the decisions, you don’t really make the decisions.”
Stevens, 31, doesn’t mind that his opinion as shareholder doesn’t carry any weight. He inherited his Packers stock from his dad and uncle, and he’s always known the stock has no real value. “My uncle was a financial advisor,” he says. “He was totally aware of what this is. It really is just a piece of paper.”
For Stevens, satisfaction of being a shareholder comes from the simple fact that he can be one. He wishes there was more public-ownership in the NFL, as common as it is among European football clubs like fan-owned FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Stevens points to the Cleveland Browns as an example of a team that missed an opportunity to rebuild fan support after the franchise split for Baltimore. “Could the community in Cleveland have re-formed the Browns without Jimmy Haslam?” he asks. “That would have been an even better story. It helps create an identity and a community rooting for a common goal with people you might not know. How great would it be if the community supports it instead of through tax subsidiaries?” — Kalyn Kahler
Robert C. McNair | Founder, Chairman, CEO | Age: 80
Education: University of South Carolina
How They Acquired the Franchise: McNair paid a $700 million expansion fee in 1999 to bring the Texans to Houston. While the Texans ostensibly replaced the Oilers, who moved to Tennessee in ’96, the former inherited none of the franchise history, logos or players.
Net Worth: $3.8 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.8 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: McNair made the bulk of his money in 1999, prior to buying the Texans, when he sold his power generator company, Cogen Technologies, to Enron for $1.5 billion in cash and stock.
In the Owner’s Words: While discussing the Texans’ GM search in 2018, McNair told reporters: "You want somebody who's confident of their viewpoint, can present it and defend it, and yet listen to other people if somebody's got a better argument … If you disagree with me, I'm not going to get mad at you ... If you have a stronger argument, I can be convinced."
On the Texans’ desire for players with strong moral standing McNair said: “I think you need people you can trust playing next to you. You need to respect them. When you need to depend on them, you need somebody who'll be there.”
McNair also reportedly said of player protests: “[W]e can’t have the inmates running the prison.” He later later apologized for that “expression” and claimed he was referring to the league office, not the players.
Political Donations: McNair is one of the most active owners when it comes to political donations. During the 2016 campaign cycle, he donated $1.5 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC focused on protecting the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate; $100K to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to “protecting and strengthening the Republican majority in the U.S. House”; and various other sums to Republican presidential campaigns. Following the ‘16 presidential election, McNair donated $2 million to the Great America PAC, the “premiere Pro-Trump super PAC.”
NFL Committees: Finance Committee (Chair), Chairmen's Committee, Audit Committee, Compensation Committee.
Next in Line: Bob McNair’s son, Cal, has served as vice chairman of the Texans since 2008 and also assumed the additional role of chief operating officer in 2012. He reportedly took on a bigger role with the team during Bob’s battle with cancer in ’14.
Jim Irsay | Owner, CEO | Age: 59
Education: Southern Methodist University
How They Acquired the Franchise: Irsay inherited the franchise in 1997 after the death of his father, Robert. The Colts came into the family in ’72 when Robert exchanged his ownership stake in the Los Angeles Rams for ownership of the then-Baltimore Colts. Robert controversially moved the Colts from Baltimore to Indianapolis in the middle of the night in 1984 to avoid the city seizing ownership of the Colts by eminent domain.
Net Worth: $2.7 billion (per Forbes, 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.375 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Irsay has made the majority of his wealth from the Colts.
In the Owner’s Words: Irsay told the Indianapolis Business Journal in 2006: “I look at myself as a steward. And a good owner always keeps the fans at heart. We want this [the Colts] to be a vehicle that pulls this community together.”
“If you want to operate a shoestring franchise,” Irsay said, “you can make a lot of money every year. That's something I want no part of. There’s tremendous pride in winning.”
Political Donations: Irsay has donated to both sides of the aisle in recent years. Most notably, he contributed $25K in late 2016 to the Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to building a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.
NFL Committees: Legislative Committee, Super Bowl & Major Events Advisory Committee, Finance Committee.
Next in Line: Irsay has three daughters, Carlie, Casey and Kalen, each of whom took on greater day-to-day responsibilities during Jim’s inpatient treatment for a drug-related arrest in 2014. All three have the title of Vice Chair/Owner, while Kalen serves on the Employee Benefits Committee and Carlie serves on the Digital Media Committee.
Shahid Khan | Owner | Age: 67
Education: University of Illinois
How They Acquired the Franchise: Kahn purchased the team from Wayne Weaver in 2011 for $770 million.
Net Worth: $7.2 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.075 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: After years of working as an engineering manager at Flex-N-Gate, an auto parts company, Khan set out on his own to produce a one-piece truck bumper. The bumper, which greatly simplified manufacturing, was a success. Two years later, he purchased Flex-N-Gate, building it into a multi-billion dollar private company with plants around the world.
In addition to the Jaguars, Khan also owns the Fulham Football Club and is in the process of buying Wembley Stadium in London.
In the Owner’s Words: After his bid for Wembley, Khan said: “Today’s news changes none of what we envision for the long-term promise for the Jaguars here in Jax, and it changes nothing as to the goals we have for your downtown.” He added: “And the stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars’ future will be in Jacksonville.”
But building out the Jaguars’ profile abroad clearly remains a priority for Khan, who said the Wembley bid will, “protect the Jaguars' position in London at a time when other NFL teams are understandably becoming more interested in this great city." The Jaguars are scheduled to play one game per season in London through 2020.
Political Donations: Khan has donated to both Democratic and Republican efforts. Among his largest donations to date: $70K to the Romney Victory fund in 2012; $47,900 to the NRCC and Republican National Committee in ’12; $25K to the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC in ’16; and a reported $1M to Donald Trump’s inauguration.
NFL Committees: Health & Safety Advisory Committee, Finance Committee, NFL Network Committee, Business Ventures Committee (Chairman).
Next in Line: Shad’s son, Tony, is the Senior Vice President of Football Administration and Technology for the Jaguars and the Vice Chairman and Director of Football Operations of Fulham Football Club.
Kansas City Chiefs
Clark Hunt | Chairman, CEO | Age: 53
Education: Southern Methodist University
How They Acquired the Franchise: Hunt inherited the Chiefs from his father, Lamar. The franchise came into the family in 1960 when Lamar, who was spurned by the NFL in pursuit of a Dallas franchise, founded a rival league—the AFL—and introduced the Dallas Texans. Three years later the Texans relocated to Kansas City and were renamed the Chiefs. In ’70, the Chiefs became an NFL franchise in the NFL-AFL merger.
Net Worth: The Hunt family is worth $13.7 billion (per Forbes in 2016)
Franchise Valuation: $2.1 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: The Hunt family fortune was born in the oil fields under family patriarch H.L. Hunt and continued to grow with the Hunt Oil Company and Petro-Hunt. In addition to owning the Chiefs, Lamar had a wealth of other sporting interests, including an ownership stake in the Chicago Bulls and three MLS teams. Clark remains the Chairman and CEO of FC Dallas.
In the Owner’s Words: When asked about the possibility of signing Colin Kaepernick, Hunt told NBC Sports Radio, “I’m not going to tell our head coach or our GM not to bring in a player if they think that player can bring us some success on the field and make us better. Now there are certain circumstances where guys get in trouble off the field, and that is something as an organization and as a family we care about.
“We’re not going to bring those types of players in. In terms of a player like Colin, I would have no hesitation bringing him into the organization.”
Political Donations: Hunt has primarily donated to Republican causes, most notably with a $20K donation to the RNC in 2012; $25K to Romney Victory Inc. in ’12; and $10,400 to Team Ryan, a super PAC supporting Paul Ryan, in ’16.
NFL Committees: Management Council Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Digital Media Committee, International Committee (Chairman), Conduct Committee, Compensation Committee.
Next in Line: Hunt and his wife, Tavia Shackles, have three children that could inherit the team. Hunt also has three siblings—Sharron, Daniel, and Lamar Jr.—who own equal shares of the team but are not as involved with the day-to-day operations.
Los Angeles Chargers
Alex Spanos | Owner | Age: 94
Note: Alex Spanos is the majority owner of the Chargers but ceded day-to-day operations of the team to his son, Dean, the Chargers Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board, in 1994. In 2015 Dean ceded day-to-day operations to his sons A.G., President of Business Operations, and John, President of Football Operations.
Education: Both Alex and Dean attended the University of the Pacific
How They Acquired the Franchise: Alex purchased a controlling interest of the Chargers from Gene Klein in 1984 for just under $50 million. Over the next decade, Alex bought out a series of minority owners, increasing the family stake to 97%.
Net Worth: $2.4 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.275 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Alex made the family fortune in real estate as an apartment developer. Their company, A.G. Spanos Companies, is now one of the nation’s largest family-owned businesses.
In the Owner’s Words: “On the field, our goal each year is to put ourselves in position to bring home the Lombardi Trophy,” says Dean, when asked about his philosophy for owning the team. “Off the field, we want to do everything in our power to have a positive impact in our community and be a real difference-maker. How do you go about doing that? For us, it’s about seeking out and hiring the best talent available—both on the football side and the business side. After that, give them every resource necessary to succeed. From there, let your people do what they do best.”
Political Donations: The Spanos family has funneled most of its donations toward conservative causes. Most notable: A $5 million donation in 2004 from Alex Spanos to the Progress for America Voter Fund, a conservative issue advocacy organization that was closely aligned with George W. Bush.
NFL Committees:Dean: Business Ventures Committee, Management Council Executive Committee; Dean’s eldest son, A.G. Spanos: Stadium Security and Fan Behavior; Dean’s wife, Susie Spanos: NFL Foundation Board.
Next in Line: Dean is clearly next in line to Alex Spanos, who announced in 2008 that he’s suffering from dementia. Beyond Dean, the Chargers are very much a family-run business. As indicated above, Dean’s eldest son, A.G., acts as the President of Business Operations, and Dean’s youngest son John acts President of Football Operations.
Los Angeles Rams
Stan Kroenke | Chairman, Owner | Age: 70
Education: University of Missouri
How They Acquired the Franchise: Enos Stanley Kroenke came on as a minority owner of the Rams when they moved to St. Louis in 1995. In 2010, he purchased the majority share of the team from Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, paying $450 million on a $750 million franchise valuation.
In ‘16, Kroenke won approval from the NFL to move the Rams from St. Louis to L.A., a move which reportedly doubled the franchise valuation.
Net Worth: $8.3 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $3 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Kroenke is a real estate mogul with substantial commercial holdings. In addition to the Rams, he also has interests in the Colorado Rapids (MLS) and Colorado Mammoth (MLL)—he had to cede his ownership stake in the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche in order to buy a majority stake in the Rams—as well as a stake in Arsenal Holdings, the publicly traded operator of the Arsenal football club.
In the Owner’s Words: “When you look at where we are focused as a league,” Kroenke said in 2016, “Rams are playing the Giants in London this season, Arsenal is playing over here and the NBA is playing games in London. The upshot is that sports is so global … and that’s where I think people are focusing for growth. Los Angeles is so important to NFL—some people call it gateway to South America and Asia.”
Political Donations: Kroenke has been generous to both sides of the aisle. In 2016 and early ’17, he donated $100K to the Hillary Victory Fund (a joint fundraising committee benefitting the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and 33 state Democratic committees) and $1M to the Trump inauguration.
NFL Committees: Media Committee, NFL Network Committee.
Next in Line: Kroenke’s son, Josh, is already the president of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, and is widely seen as the heir to Stan’s sports empire.
Stephen M. Ross | Chairman of the Board, Managing General Partner | Age: 78
Education: Michigan, Wayne State University School of Law, NYU School of Law
How They Acquired the Franchise: Ross purchased 50% of the Dolphins, as well as Dolphin Stadium and the surrounding land, from Wayne Huizenga for $550 million in February 2008. A year later, Ross purchased an additional 45% of the team for $450 million.
Net Worth: $7.6 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.575 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Ross started The Related Companies, now a multi-billion dollar real estate business, in 1972. He also owns the gym chain Equinox, which has more than 100 locations across the world, and SoulCycle, a New York-based indoor cycling workout facility.
In the Owner’s Words: After conflicting reports emerged on whether Ross would compel Dolphins players to stand during the national anthem, Ross told the media: “I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued. I’ve shared my opinion with all of our players: I’m passionate about the cause of social justice and I feel that kneeling is an ineffective tactic that alienates more people than it enlists. I know our players care about the military and law enforcement too because I’ve seen the same players who are fighting for social justice engaging positively with law enforcement and the military.
“I care passionately that the message of social justice resonates far and wide and I will continue to support and fund efforts for those who fight for equality for all.”
Political Donations: Ross has donated to both parties over the years. Among his notable contributions: $200K in October 2016 to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a “super PAC exclusively dedicated to protecting and strengthening the Republican majority in the House of Representatives”; $100K in December ’11 to Restore Our Future, a super PAC affiliated with Mitt Romney; $10K to the NY Republican Federal Campaign Committee in ’10, ’12 and ’13; and $25K to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in ’04, ’05, ’06 and ’08.
NFL Committees: Finance Committee, NFL Network Committee, International Committee.
Next in Line: Ross has four children, none of whom are involved with the franchise.
Zygi Wilf, Mark Wilf, Leonard Wilf | Co-Owners | Age: 68 (Zygi), 56 (Mark), 71 (Leonard)
Zygi (middle) is principal owner of the team; Mark (right) is the president and co-owner; Leonard is co-owner and vice chairman.
Education:Zygi: Fairleigh Dickinson, New York Law School; Mark: Princeton, NYU School of Law; Leonard: Boston University, Georgetown, NYU School of Law
How They Acquired the Franchise: The Wilfs purchased the Vikings in 2005 from Red McCombs for $600 million. The ownership group pushing for the purchase was originally led by Reggie Fowler, but Fowler ended up taking a lesser role and ultimately withdrawing from the ownership group entirely due to financial difficulties. This put the sale in peril until Zygi stepped forward as majority owner.
Net Worth:Zygi: $310 million (per SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in 2011)
Franchise Valuation: $2.4 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: The Wilf family business is real estate. Their company, Garden Home (and its subsidiaries, Garden Commercial Properties and Skyline Developers) “is one of the largest builders of residential and commercial real estate.”
In the Owner’s Words: Responding to President Trump’s remarks about players kneeling during the national anthem, the Wilfs said: “Professional sports offer a platform unlike any other, a platform that can bring people from a variety of backgrounds together to impact positive change in our society. As owners, it is our job to foster an environment that recognizes and appreciates diversity of thought and encourages using this platform in a constructive manner. Rather than make divisive statements, we believe in promoting thoughtful, inspiring conversation that unifies our communities. We are proud of our players, coaches and staff for the important role they play in our community, and we fully support their constitutional right to respectfully and peacefully express their beliefs.”
Political Donations: The Wilfs have donated primarily to Democratic campaigns, with Zygi donating $28,500 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008; $26,200 to the Democratic National Campaign Services/Democratic National Committee in ‘08; and $25K to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in ’12. Mark donated $36K to the Hillary Victory Fund in ’16, and Leonard donated $10K to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee in ’04.
NFL Committees: Zygi: Investment Committee; Mark: Stadium Committee, Business Ventures Committee, Super Bowl and Major Events Advisory Committee; Leonard: Legislative Committee, NFL Foundation.
New England Patriots
Robert Kraft | Chairman, CEO | Age: 77
Education: Columbia University, Harvard Business School
How They Acquired The Franchise: Having purchased Foxboro Stadium in 1988, Kraft jumped at the opportunity to buy the Patriots when the team hit the market in ’94. Kraft paid a then-NFL record $172 million to acquire the franchise from James Orthwein, a St. Louis businessman who had purchased the Patriots just two years earlier.
Net Worth: $6.2 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $3.7 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Kraft made his initial fortune in paper manufacturing with paper company Rand-Whitney (he now owns International Forest Products and half of New-Indy, as well). In addition to the Patriots—and what’s now known as Gillette Stadium—Kraft also owns the New England Revolution of the MLS and a stake in UFC.
In the Owner’s Words: “You don’t know anything when you come in,” Kraft told the Palm Beach Post. “You might think you do. There’s a lot of very accomplished, smart people who come into the league and they get dressed down pretty quickly.”
Political Donations: Kraft has been a dependable Democratic donor for years, donating $25K to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008 and $40K in ’12. A longtime friend of Donald Trump, Kraft also reportedly donated $1 million to the Trump Inaugural Committee via the Kraft Group LLC., in ’16.
NFL Committees: Management Council Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Media Committee (Chairman), NFL Network Committee, Compensation Committee.
Next in Line: Robert’s son, Jonathan, serves as president of the Patriots and is described by the team site as “the day-to-day driving force behind the rebuilding and rebranding of the franchise, bringing long-overdue stability to the once wayward organization.”
New Orleans Saints
Gayle Benson | Owner | Age: 71
Education: Martin Behrman High School
How They Acquired the Franchise: The widow of former Saints owner Tom Benson, Gayle gained control of the team following Tom’s death in March 2018. But the acquisition was far from smooth. Prior to his death, Tom was embroiled in a multi-year dispute with his heirs over ownership stakes in the Saints and the Pelicans. The parties ended the dispute with a confidential settlement in early ’17, and Benson made arrangements before his death to ensure Gayle would assume ownership of both franchises.
Net Worth: $2.7 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Gayle started Gayle Bird interiors, an interior design firm in 1975. Per the Saints website, she “directed numerous major design efforts with her clients, including the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, several of the city’s most prestigious hotels, local supermarket chains and automobile dealerships.” In the late ‘70s she began buying and selling historic properties around New Orleans, and decades later, in 2014, she established GMB Racing Stables, a horse racing stable.
Tom owned several auto dealerships in New Orleans and San Antonio and a handful of Southern banks prior to buying the Saints for $70 million in 1985. He purchased the New Orleans Hornets in 2012 for $338 million, later renaming them the Pelicans.
In the Owner’s Words: “Please rest assured,” Gayle said in a statement after Tom’s death, “I will own and operate this franchise until my death and do so with the same drive and focus towards success that my husband displayed throughout his life. … I want to assure you that the New Orleans Saints are in good hands and my vision for strong, long lasting ownership and continuity are in place and already at work.”
Political Donations: Gayle has a very modest track record of political donations, but has been consistent in contributing to Republican causes. Notable contributions: $25K between 2014-15 to The Fund for Louisiana's Future, a super PAC aligned with Republican Senator David Vitter; $2,700 to Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign in ’15; and $2,700 to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign.
NFL Committees: Tom led the Finance Committee as chairman for several years, and Gayle said she is “anxious to be involved in committees that will also help forge and direct the future of our great game.”
New York Giants
John K. Mara, Steve Tisch | President, CEO (Mara); Chairman, EVP (Tisch) | Ages: 63 (Mara); 69 (Tisch)
Education: Tisch: Tufts University; Mara: Boston College, Fordham University School of Law
How They Acquired the Franchise: John’s grandfather Tim Mara paid $500 to purchase the franchise in 1925, the year five new teams entered the NFL. Decades later, in 1991, Bob Tisch (Steve’s father), paid more than $70 million to purchase 50% of the team. Steve inherited that stake after Bob’s death in November 2005.
Franchise Valuation: $3.3 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Tisch spent a career in the movie business, producing notables films such as Risky Business, Forrest Gump and American History X. His father co-founded the Loews Corporation, which started as a hotel venture and now includes subsidiaries in insurance, drilling and gas pipelines.
Mara worked at the firm Shea & Gould, specializing in labor and employment law, before officially joining the Giants in 1988.
In the Owner’s Words: “I think certainly we all hope that our players stand for the anthem this year,” Mara told SiriusXM in May 2018. “I think it’s the right thing to do. … We’ve been supportive of those in the past who have decided to protest, but I think we’ve gotten to a point now where it’s become such a divisive issue that I think it’s important that we come out of here with a policy that everybody can respect and adhere to.”
Political Donations: Tisch has been the much more active political contributor, especially to democrats, donating $10,400 to Cory Booker in 2014; $5,000 to Claire McCaskill and $4,800 to Chuck Schumer in ’12; and $2,300 each to Clinton and Obama in 2008. Tisch also donated $10K to the conservative super PAC, George Allen’s Fund for America’s Comeback, in ’12.
NFL Committees: Mara: Workplace Diversity Committee, Management Council Executive Committee (Chairman), Competition Committee, Health & Safety Advisory Committee, Compensation Committee; Tisch: NFL Network Committee, NFL Foundation Board.
New York Jets
Woody Johnson | Chairman, CEO | Age: 71
Note: Woody’s brother, Christopher, is currently serving as Chairman and CEO of the Jets following Woody’s appointment as U.S. ambassador to the U.K.
Education: University of Arizona
How They Acquired the Franchise: Johnson purchased the team for $635 million from the estate of oil baron Leon Hess in January 2000. Johnson reportedly outbid Charles F. Dolan—the chairman of Cablevision, which at the time owned Madison Square Garden, the Knicks and the Rangers—with a purchase price that was, at the time, the third-highest in NFL history, surpassed only by the Redskins and Texans (it has since been surpassed several times).
Net Worth: $4.19 billion (per Bloomberg in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: 2.75 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: He is the heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune (his great grandfather founded the company) and currently oversees a private New York investment company called the Johnson Company. In addition to the Jets, Johnson also has a stake in MetLife Stadium.
In the Owner’s Words: “If you want to go to the promised land, you've got to go in a certain direction,” Johnson told ESPN New York radio when asked about the team’s expectations in May 2017. “I think this a direction that we've never tried in 17 years that I've been involved with the Jets. We've never gone this way—build through the draft, build through young free agents that a lot of guys don't even pay attention to.
“We've tried various things over the years that I've been involved with the New York Jets, and what we haven't done is really concentrate on younger players, and making sure the coaching staff is capable of teaching those players and getting them better.”
Political Donations: Johnson is active in Republican politics, serving as a Trump Victory Vice Chair nationwide and as a State Victory Finance Chair in New York in 2016. Among his notable contributions: $449,200 to the Victory Fund for Trump (across three donations) in 2016 and $500,000 to Right to Rise USA, a super PAC created to support Jeb Bush, in ‘15.
NFL Committees: Served on the NFL Commissioner Search Committee that selected Roger Goodell.
Next in Line: As noted above, his brother Christopher is running the Jets while Woody he serves as the ambassador to the U.K.
Mark Davis | Owner | Age: 63
Education: California State University, Chico
How They Acquired the Franchise: Mark, and his mother Carol Davis, inherited the franchise from Al Davis (Carol’s husband, Mark’s father) after his death in October 2011. Al positioned himself as managing general partner of the Raiders starting in 1972, though he would not acquire a majority interest in the team until 2005. At the time of his death, it was reported Al only owned 47% of the team, but that the Davis family maintained full control of the franchise going forward.
Net Worth: $500 million (per Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2016)
Franchise Valuation: $2.38 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Al earned the family’s money, starting as a line coach at USC and moving up to become a player personnel assistant, an assistant coach, a head coach, a general manager, an AFL league commissioner and then eventually the owner of the Raiders. Mark has worked exclusively for the Raiders throughout his adult life.
In the Owner’s Words: In a statement issued shortly after the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas was approved, Davis said, “My father always said, ‘the greatness of the Raiders is in its future,’ and the opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world is a significant step toward achieving that greatness. … The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff.”
Political Donations: Mark donated $10K to the Gridiron PAC, a bi-partisan committee, between 2016-17.
NFL Committees: Super Bowl & Major Events Advisory Committee.
Jeffrey Lurie | Chairman, CEO | Age: 66
Education: Clark University, Boston University (M.S.) Brandeis University (Ph.D)
How They Acquired the Franchise: Lurie purchased the team from Norman Braman for $185 million in 1994. Prior to buying the Eagles, Lurie had explored buying the Patriots and Rams and was a potential investor in a bid for a Baltimore expansion franchise.
Net Worth: $2 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.65 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Lurie’s grandfather founded the General Cinema Corporation, which began as a movie theater chain and evolved into Harcourt General Inc., a multi-billion dollar conglomerate. In 1983, Lurie took an executive role at the company. Two years later, he went out on his own, starting his own production company, Chestnut Hill Productions.
In the Owner’s Words: In discussing the anthem protests, Lurie said, “Social injustice is a big problem in America. It's a big problem around the globe. Anybody who wants to do proactive things to try to reverse social injustice, I’m all in favor of. It has to be respectful. It certainly has to respect the military and the men and women who serve our country. Emergency responders. Whoever that is. If you do it in a respectful way.
“I applaud anybody that can find respectful ways of trying to find their platform in some way. … Players have grit and determination, there's no boundary on how that grit and determination gets expressed. Sports is an opportunity to bring people together. I applaud when players can bring communities together.”
Political Donations: Lurie and his wife, Tina, have been primarily Democratic donors. Notable contributions include: $15K to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee between 2006-07; $25K to the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee, a committee aligned with the Democratic National Convention, in ’14; and $10K to the DNC in 1998. Lurie, has donated to Republicans, as well, including $2K to the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2003, $1K to Rudy Guliani in 2000 and $1K to Rick Santorum in 1998.
NFL Committees: Super Bowl & Major Events Advisory Committee, International Committee, Finance Committee, Media Committee.
Next in Line: While none of the Lurie family are directly involved with the Eagles, Jeffrey’s son Julian is currently in the NFL Junior Rotational Program.
Art Rooney II | President | Age: 65
Education: University of Pittsburgh; Duquesne University School of Law
How They Acquired the Franchise: Art inherited control of the team from his father, Dan, in July 2003. There was no announcement when Dan passed the team onto him in 2003; they simply changed the names on the media guides distributed before training camp. Dan held the position for 28 years before Art II. The Steelers have been in the Rooney family since 1933, when family patriarch Art Rooney started the team by paying the NFL a $2,500 franchise fee.
Net Worth: The entire Rooney family has a net worth of $1.2 billion (per Forbes in 2015)
Franchise Valuation: $2.45 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: The Rooneys have made the majority of their wealth from the team, watching the Steelers appreciate from that $2,500 franchise fee (the equivalent of ~$48K in 2018) to $2.45 billion.
In the Owner’s Words: “Panic doesn’t seem to work; let’s put it that way,” Rooney told reporters before the Super Bowl in 2011. “Enough people seem to have gone through that. Our philosophy is you pick good people and try to stick with them.
“There’s no guarantees. There are ups and downs in any sport. But if you have the people in place, you always have a chance to be successful. That goes back to my grandfather and down to my father.”
Political Donations: Rooney has donated primarily to Democrats, including $10K to the DNC in 2004 and $2,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in between ‘04 and ‘08. He’s also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the bi-partisan super PAC North Side Good Government Committee between ‘04 and ‘17.
NFL Committees: Stadium Committee (Chairman), Digital Media Committee, International Committee, Legislative Committee, NFL Foundation Board, Management Council Executive Committee, Health & Safety Advisory Committee, Compensation Committee
Next in Line: The Steelers are a true family business. Art Rooney II is the principal owner of a 19-person group. And of those 18 other members, four are Rooney family members, including Art Rooney Jr., John Rooney, Brian Rooney, and Dan Rooney Jr.
San Francisco 49ers
Jed York, Denise DeBartolo York, John York | CEO/Co-Chairmen | Age: 38 (Jed); 68 (Denise); 69 (John)
Jed (left) is the CEO; Denise (right) and John are both Co-Chairmen
Education:Jed: Notre Dame; Denise: Saint Mary’s College at Notre Dame; John: Notre Dame, Loyola University Chicago for Ph.D.
How They Acquired the Franchise: Denise’s father, Eddie DeBartolo Sr., purchased the 49ers from the widows of the Morabito brothers, who founded the team, for $17 million in 1977. Eddie Jr. acted as president of the club from ‘77 through 2000, when he was indicted for failure to report an extortion attempt. As a result, Eddie Jr. received a one-year suspension from the NFL and eventually ceded control of the team to Denise. In 2008, she and John turned over control of the team to Jed.
Net Worth:Denise: $2.5 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $3.05 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Eddie Sr. built up the family fortune through real estate, specifically shopping malls. Eddie Sr. also owned the Pittsburgh Penguins for nearly 20 years and three thoroughbred race tracks around the U.S. Denise served as the President of the Penguins for years, while John founded DeYor Laboratories before selling it to Corning, Inc., in 1993.
In the Owner’s Words: “I own this football team. You don’t dismiss owners,” Jed York told reporters after the firings of GM Trent Baalke and coach Chip Kelly. “I’m sorry that that’s the facts and that’s the case, but that’s the facts. I’m going to do everything I can to get this right.
“This isn’t about a business and running an operation to make money. We’re making sure we’re doing everything we can to re-establish this culture.”
Political Donations: Jed donated $5,400 to Democrat Kamala Harris's Senate campaign in 2015, as well as $500 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential run in ’16. He also donated $1,900 to Republican representative Jeff Denham in ’16.
Meanwhile, Denise, representing both the DeBartolo Corp and the Niners, has donated thousands to Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan. She also donated $25K over three installments to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee between ’07 and ’10.
NFL Committees:Jed: Stadium Committee, NFL Network Committee, Digital Media Committee; John: International Committee, Health & Safety Advisory Committee (Chairman), Audit Committee; Denise: Hall of Fame Committee.
Estate of Paul Allen
Status: Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died on Oct. 15, 2018. In the wake of his passing, it is expected that the team will be sold but remain in Seattle, with the proceeds of the sale benefiting the Paul G. Allen Foundation. In the interim, Allen’s sister, Jody, has taken a more visible role with the team.
How He Acquired the Franchise: Allen signed an agreement in 1996, giving him an exclusive, 14-month opportunity to purchase the Seahawks from real estate mogul Ken Behring. The deal had several contingencies, the most important of which was community financial assistance for a new football stadium in Seattle. A year later, following a commitment from taxpayers to help fund what would become CenturyLink Field, Allen assumed full ownership of the team at a price of $194 million.
Franchise Valuation: $2.425 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bryan Glazer, Edward Glazer, Joel Glazer | Owners, Co-Chairmen | Age: 53 (Bryan); 48 (Edward); 47 (Joel)
Bryan Glazer (left), Joel Glazer (center), Edward Glazer (right)
Education:Bryan: American University, Whittier College School of Law; Joel: American University; Ed: Ithaca College
How They Acquired the Franchise: Malcolm Glazer purchased the franchise from the estate of Hugh Culverhouse for a then-record $192 million in 1995 after several failed attempts to buy other pro franchises in both the NFL and MLB. The trio of Glazer brothers and their sister, Darcie, inherited the team following Malcolm’s death in 2014.
Net Worth: The entire Glazer family has a net worth of $4.7 billion (per Forbes in 2015)
Franchise Valuation: $1.975 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Malcolm Glazer built the family fortune in commercial real estate through First Allied Corporation, which “engages in the acquisition, ownership, management, and leasing of community and neighborhood shopping centers in the United States.”
In addition to the Bucs, the Glazers also own Manchester United, acquiring a majority ownership of the club between 2003 and ’05.
In the Owner’s Words: “I love football,” Joel Glazer told ESPN in 2011. “I haven’t missed a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game since we’ve owned the team and gone all the way to Japan. I live for Sundays. I live for the wins and can’t stand the losses. Anybody who knows myself or knows my family knows this is a true love.”
Political Donations: The Glazers have donated to both sides of the aisle. Bryan donated $10K to the Republican Party of Florida in 2014 and $5K to Republican George Allen in 2011, but also donated $12,900 to Democrat Charlie Crist between ’09 and ’17. Ed hosted a fundraiser for Donald Trump and donated $250K to the Trump inaugural committee, but also gave $5,400 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in ’16. Joel’s sole donation outside of the Gridiron super PAC, was a $5,400 contribution to the Hillary Victory Fund in ’16.
NFL Committees:Joel: Media Committee, International Committee and Finance Committee; Bryan: Digital Media Committee.
Amy Adams Strunk | Controlling Owner, Co-Chairman, Board of Directors
Education: University of Texas
How They Acquired the Franchise: Strunk inherited the team from her father, K.S. "Bud" Adams after his death in 2013. He founded the NFL franchise (formerly the Houston Oilers) in 1960.
Net Worth: The Adams family has a net worth of $1.3 billion (per Forbes in 2014)
Franchise Valuation: $2.05 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Besides her family wealth, Strunk founded Kenada Farms and the Little River Oil and Gas Company, and also served as vice president of the Bud Adams Ranches.
In the Owner’s Words: “I believe in hiring good people and letting them do their jobs,” said Strunk. “Everything should revolve around what’s best for the Titans and not around the owner. While I talk frequently with the leaders of the Titans as I do with all of our family’s companies, the people in our football operations need the control and latitude necessary to create an exciting and competitive team.”
“Nashville is one of the most dynamic and rapidly growing cities in the nation with a very promising future,” said Strunk. “We are proud to be a part of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, and we want the Titans to be a leader in providing opportunities for people and businesses in the city and the region to achieve their dreams.”
Political Donations: Strunk donated $2,000 to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee in 2016. Since ’15, she’s also contributed $15K to the Gridiron PAC, as well as thousands to support Ohio Republican Rob Portman’s Senate campaign in ’16.
NFL Committees: Hall of Fame Committee.
Dan Snyder | Owner | Age: 53
Education: Enrolled, but never graduated from the University of Maryland.
How They Acquired the Franchise: Purchased the team from the estate of late team owner Jack Kent Cooke for $800 million in 1999, a then-record price for a U.S. sports franchise.
Net Worth: $2.3 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $3.1 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: He started Snyder Communications, a marketing company, in 1989. In 1996, at the age of 32, he became the youngest-ever CEO of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company.
In the Owner’s Words: “I have found that what drives me is the desire to prove, to myself and to my peers, that I can do what I set out to do and build something that matters,” Snyder told Fast Company in 1997. “I’ve done that by recruiting smart people—many from traditional corporate environments—and giving them a dose of entrepreneurial spirit.
“You achieve long-term success step by step. Try to achieve your goals one at a time, like you do target practice. I look at each day as a chance to move one notch above yesterday—whether it’s in service quality, delivery, speed, or any other aspect of the business. I don’t measure my “success” every day. I measure how much we have left to do.
“In that sense, business success is just a form of persistence.”
Political Donations: Snyder has made donations to candidates on both sides of the aisle, but the majority of his spending has been to Republican candidates, including $1 million to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee and $112K in 2015-16 to Right to Rise, a super PAC created to support Jeb Bush.
NFL Committees: Stadium Committee; Media Committee; Digital Media Committee; International Committee; Business Ventures Committee; Hall of Fame Committee.