Tennessee owner Bud Adams made headlines on Sunday when he flipped off Buffalo fans from the owner's box in the waning moments of the Titans' 41-17 victory over the Bills. Here are some other team owners whose behavior could use improving.
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The Yankees owner has been involved in a number of off-the-field incidents, but none more controversial than his $40,000 payoff to confessed gambler Howie Spira for "dirt" on Dave Winfield. Steinbrenner was angry after Winfield filed a lawsuit claiming that a $300,000 donation from the Yankees to The Winfield Organization, which was guaranteed in the outfielder's contract, was never paid. Commissioner Fay Vincent banned Steinbrenner for life, though he was reinstated three years later. The incident was Steinbrenner's second forced absence from baseball. In 1970, Bowie Kuhn suspended him for two years following his conviction for making illegal political campaign contributions to President Richard Nixon's re-election committee.
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Schott, the chain-smoking former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, was a lightning rod for controversy and made headlines for her negative comments about African-Americans, Jews and homosexuals. She was banned from day-to-day operation of the Reds from 1996 through 1998, when she sold her share of the team.
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Cuban has done an enormous amount of good for Dallas in his decade as owner, building a state of the art facility and turning the team from laughingstock to contender. Unfortunately, his passion has also been his downfall. He has been fined over $1.5 million for critical comments about the league and referees. His low point came during the playoffs last season, when he called Denver fans and players "thugs," then got into a verbal altercation with Kenyon Martin's mother.
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In addition to a longtime feud with former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Davis filed an anti-trust lawuit against the NFL in 1980 after his effort to move the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles was blocked by a court injunction. He also made headlines last September when he called recently-fired coach Lane Kiffin a "liar" and a "disgrace" during a bizarre press conference.
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McNall was seen as a visionary when he became Kings owner in 1986 and traded for the game's best player, Wayne Gretzky. The move turned an entire city into hockey fans. But things went downhill fast; In 1993, he defaulted on a $90 million loan and was forced to sell the team. A year later, he pled guilty to five counts of conspiracy and fraud and was sentenced to 70 months in prison.
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Turner bought the Atlanta Braves in 1976 and immediately set his sights on free agent Gary Matthews. Unfortunately, that pursuit led to tampering charges and Turner was slapped with a one-year suspension from baseball. Her was at the center of controversy soon after when he donned a Braves uniform and became manager for a day to help his team break a 17-game losing streak. The move was met with widespread criticism from players and fans.
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In one of the more unbelievable ownership stories, Spano bought the Islanders in 1997 and was hailed as a savior for the team. The only problem was Spano had a fraction of the fortune he claimed and his checks to longtime owner John Pickett kept bouncing. It was also discovered that he lied on numerous items on his resume, including his education, inheritance and net worth. Commissioner Gary Bettman was forced to intervene and Spano was forced to relinquish control of the team back to Pickett.
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Pocklington, who bought the Oilers in the late 1970s, found immediate success with the arrival of Wayne Gretzky in 1979. The Great One led Edmonton to the Stanley Cup four times during his decade with the Oilers. But Pocklington, who reportedly was in debt, traded Gretzky to Los Angeles for five players and $15 million. Pocklington was sent to jail earlier this year after being arrested on bankruptcy fraud charges. His bail, which was set at $1 million, was posted by former Oilers GM Glen Sather.
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Rigas, who founded Adelphia Communications Corporation in 1952, was the majority owner of the Buffalo Sabres until 2002, when he was convicted on 15 accounts of fraud and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
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