The National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League all bow down to the National Football League for multiple reasons. Every NFL franchise is, according to a report released by Mike Ozanian of Forbes in September 2015, worth over $1 billion. Despite the fact that NFL regular seasons only last a little over four months for the majority of the teams that do not qualify for postseason play, the league is now a property that is a year-round product. A Super Bowl is followed by an NFL Scouting Combine, which is followed by all that is involved in the NFL Draft. After a draft comes organized team activities, training camp sessions, preseason games and then another season.
Chris Smith of Forbes released a list of the richest owners in the NFL for 2015, and the valuations that are associated with those individuals are staggering. Each of the ten league owners showcased in that list have a net worth of at least $2.8 billion. All of those men have found success outside of the sports world, of course, but they are mostly known to football fans because of the millions upon millions of dollars that they dump into franchises on a yearly basis. Some NFL owners prefer to remain in the shadows, while others have no problem being front and center on fall Sundays and during press conferences.
It is a great time to have any association with the Seattle Seahawks, and team owner Paul Allen has had billions of reasons to smile over the years. Stan Kroenke could become a rather unpopular individual among local fans of the St. Louis Rams if certain rumors are proven to be accurate. While Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has lost the faith of some within the team’s fan base only a couple of years after he began the process of purchasing the franchise, Terry Pegula is a hero among football fans in western New York for making sure that the Buffalo Bills are staying put.
10. Jimmy Haslam – Net Worth: $2.8 Billion
Here is a brief rundown of some of the events that have occurred since Jimmy Haslam purchased the Cleveland Browns: Haslam has been investigated by the FBI. He escaped indictment regarding those allegations. He blew up the front office of the Browns. Haslam then hired a head coach before he hired a general manager, a rarely-recommended decision and one that has, for other franchises, not worked out all that well. There is now a movement for fans of the team to put their money where their mouths are and buy the Browns. Life was probably much simpler for Mr. Haslam when he was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
9. Steve Bisciotti – Net Worth: $3.2 Billion
The owner of the Baltimore Ravens was thrust into the spotlight in 2014 after that infamous and disgusting recording of Baltimore running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious landed on the Internet. Bisciotti was forced to speak with reporters regarding his team’s handling of that situation, as the perception was that the Ravens only cut Rice because of backlash the team received after Rice was banned by the league. Rice has not received an offer to play from an NFL franchise as of the posting of this piece, and one has to assume that the Ravens would not welcome him back as a player.
8. Robert McNair – Net Worth: $3.3 Billion
Robert McNair is a lot of things, including a brilliant businessman and also the owner of the Houston Texans. He has, as an NFL owner, not been shy about speaking his mind on certain issues. McNair provided hints in January 2014 that his Texans would be taking defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick of that year’s NFL Draft. McNair commented on the “Deflate-Gate” matter in September of 2015, being sure to mention the name of Houston superstar J.J. Watt while doing so. One has to imagine that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will remember McNair’s comments whenever Brady plays against the Texans.
7. Terry Pegula – Net Worth: $4 Billion
It had been widely rumored for years that the Buffalo Bills could potentially be relocated, most likely up north to Toronto, but those whispers were put to bed for the time being thanks to a local hero. Terry Pegula, who owns the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, stepped forward and purchased the Bills, and there are no longer any plans for the team to leave that great sports town. The Bills are now looking to make headlines for other reasons, such as new head coach and new Buffalo fan-favorite Rex Ryan helping guide the team back to postseason play.
6. Robert Kraft – Net Worth: $4.8 Billion
The owner of the New England Patriots has had yet another banner year. Robert Kraft hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy after his Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Kraft and New England quarterback Tom Brady had the last laugh in September 2015 when Brady’s suspension that stemmed from the “Deflate-Gate” scandal was overturned in court. Kraft’s power and influence in the league seemingly grows with every year. It would be nice if Kraft would provide Major League Soccer side the New England Revolution, which he also owns, with a soccer specific stadium, but that’s another matter for another day.
5. Jerry Jones – Net Worth: $5 Billion
Jerry Jones resembles a villain found in James Bond movies for those who do not root for the Dallas Cowboys. Jones has what we common folk would deem to be an endless amount of money. He runs an NFL franchise almost as if it was a Madden team that can be reset at the push of a button. None of this is to suggest that Jones has not been a tremendous businessman during his life. Jones helped make the Cowboys “America’s Team,” a brand that eclipses all others that fall underneath the NFL umbrella and one that is worth more and more money with every season that passes.
4. Shahid Khan – Net Worth: $5.6 Billion
Once it was announced that the NFL and Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur had come to an agreement that will create a new stadium in London, one could not have been blamed for thinking that Shahid Khan would somehow be involved. Khan owns English football club Fulham and the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, and it is believed that the NFL is interested in having a franchise overseas, specifically in London. Khan has rejected rumors that he will have any involvement with the partnership between Tottenham and the NFL. Jacksonville football fans will have to hope that Khan will remain true to his word.
3. Stephen Ross – Net Worth: $6.7 Billion
The owner of the Miami Dolphins has grown tired of his team failing to compete with the New England Patriots and other top teams in the AFC, a point he made perfectly clear while speaking with reporters in July of 2015. Stephen Ross was asked if he was ready to see a return on the investment that he made when he purchased the Dolphins, and his answer, according to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, was priceless: “You’re g—— right.” You can’t blame Ross for being antsy, as he signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this past offseason to a contract that could be worth well over $100 million.
2. Stan Kroenke – Net Worth: $7.6 Billion
Unless you have completely ignored the St. Louis Rams over the past several years, you are probably aware that the team’s relocation seems inevitable. Fans in Los Angeles are already preparing for the club to make a return home. Kroenke reportedly already has a piece of California land in mind that would make for a great spot for a future NFL stadium. St. Louis pro football is on life support, and even a proposed relationship with MLS that would bring a top-flight soccer club to the city may not be enough to keep the Rams in St. Louis through the end of the decade.
1. Paul Allen – Net Worth: $17.8 Billion
When you are a co-founder of a company such as Microsoft, you can own pretty much anything you want. That includes NFL team the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA. Paul Allen also owns a part of MLS club the Seattle Sounders. The Seahawks have been a dream franchise to own over the past several years, as the ‘Hawks have been a title contender that won a Super Bowl and a pair of conference championships over the past two seasons, not to mention a team that draws Seattle fans wherever it plays. It has to be asked: Would Allen have handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch at the one-yard line late in Super Bowl XLIX?