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05-12-2009, 06:56 PM
SI's Best & Worst Owners

SI.com identified the five best and five worst owners in each of the four major team sports. The method was not scientific but based on numerous factors, some of which are indisputable and some of which are intangible. Among the criteria used to evaluate owners was the willingness to spend money to improve the team; the stability and capabilities of the front office and management; the amenities at the team's venue; and the club's culture and interactivity with fans. Of course, weighing heavily in the decision was the team's success or failure on the field. (Note: Records are through 2008 season.)

Five Best NFL Owners

5 Steve Bisciotti Baltimore Ravens
Purchased 2000
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$325M $1,062M 81-61 .576 5 1
As much as Art Modell was reviled in Cleveland, Bisciotti has become beloved in Baltimore as the local kid who made good and has turned the Ravens into one of best-managed franchises in the NFL. He showed guts in firing Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick and his entire staff following the disappointing '07 season and replacing him with hard-nosed John Harbaugh. Bisciotti also knows when to back off; he has let Ozzie Newsome, one of the best GMs in the business, do his job. In striking the right balance, the 48-year-old Bisciotti has become the epitome of the young, engaged owner who goes about his business the right way and puts a perennial winner on the field.

4 Jeffrey Lurie Philadelphia Eagles
Purchased 1994
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$195M $1,116M 131-104-2 .554 9 0
Lurie has brought consistency to one of the more historically volatile franchises in the NFL (one of his predecessors nearly went bankrupt and another nearly moved the team to Phoenix). Under the Boston-born Lurie, the Eagles are financially secure and have a modern stadium that will guarantee the team continued self-reliance. The Eagles have also had the most success in franchise history, reaching five NFC Championship Games in eight years and appearing in their second Super Bowl.

3 Mara & Tisch Families New York Giants
Purchased 1925
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$500 $1,178M 617-509-33 .532 30 7
How much pressure must John Mara and Steve Tisch have felt in late 2005 when their famous fathers, Wellington Mara and Robert Tisch -- the men who have made the Giants into one of the best-run organizations in professional sports since 1925 -- died within three weeks of each other? Yet the heirs did their fathers proud in continuing the family tradition of class and success, even if they had to make bold moves to do so. That included sticking with often unpopular coach Tom Coughlin, promoting Jerry Reese to GM and believing in Eli Manning as a franchise quarterback. The end result is the success of the current Giants regime, which shocked the undefeated Patriots in 2008 to win Super Bowl XLII, one of the greatest upsets in NFL history.

2 Robert Kraft New England Patriots
Purchased 1994
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$175M $1,324M 156-84 .650 10 3
In today's revenue-sharing, egalitarian NFL where everyone has a chance, it's almost impossible to create a long-standing dynasty. Unless you're Kraft. Under his regime, the Patriots have been a model franchise by locking down star players while replacing the moving parts to keep the team competitive every season. The end product is the most successful team over a 12-year period, with three Super Bowl titles in five appearances. Kraft is also the most influential owner in the commissioner's ear and a big part of the reason why the NFL has become the top American sporting league.

1 Rooney Family Pittsburgh Steelers :tt03::tt::tt03:
Purchased 1933
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$2,500 $1,015M 519-487-20 .506 25 6

The NFL's most decorated franchise has been under one family's control since its inception in 1933. Since Art Rooney's death in 1988, the Steelers have been run by Art's son Dan (pictured) and, in recent years by Art Jr., the patriarch's son and the third generation of Rooney. Through the years, one thing has remained consistent: the class with which the organization is run.[

The Rooney family's influence over the NFL has also resulted in breakthroughs in diversity -- hence the "Rooney Rule." But at the end of the day, the Rooneys have won a record six Super Bowl trophies and have given Pittsburgh, an industrial town that always seems to be hit hardest in tough economic times, its biggest source of civic pride.

Five Worst NFL Owners

Denise DeBartolo York San Francisco 49ers
Took control 2000
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
N/A $865M 53-75 .417 2 0
Niners fans long for the days of Eddie DeBartolo, who was once the envy of the NFL and produced five Super Bowl champions. Following his part in a riverboat-corruption scandal, DeBartolo's sister wrested control of the proud franchise in 2000 and handed the reigns to her husband, John York. Since then the 49ers have become one of the biggest train wrecks in the NFL. Many believe York's curt style is the reason the city of San Francisco isn't willing to work with the team to provide a new stadium within city limits, which is forcing the Niners to look south to Santa Clara County.

4 Mike Brown Cincinnati Bengals
Inherited 1991
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
N/A $941M 99-186-1 .351 1 0
Brown did his legendary father proud by refusing to sell the Bengals' stadium naming rights and keeping it Paul Brown Stadium. But that's about the only tribute he has paid to dad's legacy. For some teams, operating without a general manager works -- take New England, for example. It doesn't in Cincinnati. Despite 17 non-winning seasons in the past 18 years, the junior Brown refuses to hire a GM, a stubborn stance that's the first target of scorn from the long-suffering fans. The scouting department is also notoriously the most understaffed in the NFL, while under Brown's reign, Bengals players have made the news for criminal acts off the field almost as often as for their failings on it.

3 Dan Snyder Washington Redskins
Purchased 1999
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$750M $1,538M 70-74 .488 3 0
Snyder is a good businessman and spares no expense with one of the most profitable franchises in sports. But maybe that's the problem: The young billionaire runs the team more like a first-time fantasy-football manager. Among the most expensive outlays: nearly $225 million committed to LaVar Arrington, Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders, Laveranues Coles and Adam Archuleta. Though those mistakes were at beginning of Snyder's tenure, Washington still hasn't come anywhere near the Super Bowl and has had five head coaches during his decade of ownership. Think Snyder learned his lesson? This past offseason, he locked up three players -- Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall and Derrick Dockery -- for a combined $162M.

2 William Clay Ford Detroit Lions
Purchased 1964
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$5M $917M 281-374-13 .411 9 0
That the Lions became the first NFL team to go 0-16 last season is just the beginning of the team's problems. Detroit has become the league's laughingstock since the auto magnate bought the team 45 years ago, making the playoffs only nine times and winning just one postseason game. Ford blindly stuck by his player-turned-top executive Matt Millen for seven years despite the team's greatest stretch of incompetence. Under Millen's reign, the Lions didn't post a single winning season, never finished higher than third in the NFC North and never came within a sniff of the playoffs. Yet he was rewarded with a multi-year extension at the start of the '05 season before Ford finally fired him three years later.

1 Al Davis Oakland Raiders
Purchased 1966
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$180,000 $861M 368-264-8 .569 21 4
It's hard to knock three Super Bowl titles, one AFL championship and 21 postseason appearances since Davis bought into the former AFL franchise. Problem is, the game has passed the Hall of Famer by and he seems to be the only one who doesn't know it. Since the Raiders were blown out in Super Bowl XXVII, they've gone a league-worst 24-72 and have blazed through five head coaches since '01, including the fiasco over is-he-or-isn't-he-fired Lane Kiffin this past season. All this ignores the real problem: that Davis is out of touch, refuses to adapt and continues to be infatuated with speedsters (this year the team inexplicably drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey with the No. 7-overall pick) instead of building a deep roster that can compete.

05-12-2009, 06:59 PM
Bisciotti is a great owner, but the ROONEYS are the best!

05-12-2009, 07:01 PM
I don't even have to look. (wait a sec) Yup, they got it right.

05-12-2009, 08:04 PM
Rooney's #1.

But of course! :hunch:

05-12-2009, 08:16 PM
Unfortunately I have to agree with #5:chuckle:

Kraft is also the most influential owner in the commissioner's ear

no, you think?

great article, I agree with the list, except one thing about the segment on Kraft is I would change...
"three Super Bowl titles in five appearances"

there that's better

05-12-2009, 08:43 PM
Are we NOT the best at what we do, overall?

All 31 NFL teams should bow down, and kiss our feet.

05-12-2009, 10:39 PM
What's more amazing is Nutting wasn't on the list of the five worst baseball owners. How bad did the other five have to be?

05-12-2009, 11:14 PM
What's more amazing is Nutting wasn't on the list of the five worst baseball owners. How bad did the other five have to be?

Angelos is bad, very bad.

Galax Steeler
05-13-2009, 04:17 AM
I wonder if the Rooneys will sale me the franchise for what they gave for it.:chuckle:

05-13-2009, 05:47 AM
I don't think Al Davis should be #1, or even on the worst list. His team was in the Super Bowl 6 years ago. When has a Cleveland Brown owner had his team in the Super Bowl? Davis' rep for 40+ years should keep his past 6 years off of a list like this imo.

Don't get me wrong, I revel in what the diapper-clad old man has regressed into.

05-13-2009, 11:52 AM
I wouldn't put Al Davis as the No. 1 worst owner; that's a trendy pick. The game may have passed him by, but that's better than never understanding the game in the first place. The Yorks and Ford would definitely have to be 1-2; they've both been losing as long as Davis, or longer. Only question is which is worse -- being in the basement continuously for 40 years, or starting with one of the greatest teams of all time and systematically destroying it.

Personally, I'd put the Yorks at No. 1. Besides squandering 20 years of dominance, they treat the fans like shit, they're far more hung up on "running the team like a business" than is good for you, they bitch constantly about a new stadium, they've basically told the city of San Francisco, "f**k off, we're moving the team to Silicon Valley," and on top of it all, the way they got control of the team was in a legal battle. In short, they exemplify everything that's wrong with professional sports since the 1990s -- and in an abstract kind of way, everything that's wrong with our society since then too. On top of the typical hopeless feeling you get from extended losing, there's just been a sour mood about the whole franchise.

Dino 6 Rings
05-13-2009, 12:08 PM
Davis has Super Bowl rings, I agree, I wouldn't put him as one of the top 5 worse owners.