Where Did All the NFL Owners Obtain their Wealth?

There was a story a few weeks ago about the value of the Cowboys, and while impressive how much the Dallas Cowboys are/were estimated to be worth ($2,000,0000,000 yup that is 2 Billion Dollars) that is not what interested me more.  The article’s author, Mr. Ozanian, also provided the value for what Jerry Jones bought the team for ($150 million) among other teams in the league, and it got me thinking, just where did all these owners get the money to buy the teams in the first place?

Some other examples Mr. Ozanian provided,

…. Wayne Weaver paid $208 million for the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1993. The small-market Jaguars have never been to the Super Bowl and have made it to the postseason only twice since 1999. In January billionaire Shahid Khan paid $770 million for the team. The Cleveland Browns have lost 67% of their games and have qualified for the postseason just once since the late Al Lerner paid $530 million for the team in 1998. His son Randy is in the process of selling the Browns to James Haslam, an investor in the Steelers, for $987 million.

Where did the NFL Owners Get Their Fortune and Wealth to Purchase their Team?

I used just the owners from the Wikipedia List of NFL Owners so there are likely to be other owners who are not as visible.  It should be noted that considering how much wealth some of these owners amassed prior to jumping into the league using just Wikipedia left a lot of depth out of the information.

Arizona Cardinals – Bill Bidwill – Inherited the Cardinals with his brother from their Mom who inherited from his Father.  In 1972 he bought his brother out .  His Father was a “successful business man and lawyer.”  Not a lot of real information provided.

Atlanta Falcons – Arthur Blank – Co-Founded Home Depot.  Incidentally, my favorite team.

Baltimore Ravens – Steve Bisciotti – Started Aerotek which grew into the Allegis Group.  I am not familiar with the business but it seems to have $6.4 Billion (with a “B”) in revenue in 2011.

Buffalo Bills – Ralph Wilson – The 93 Year old owned a successful insurance business and then invested in mines and factories all around Michigan.  He was one of the original owners during the AFL days (which later merged with the NFL).

Carolina Panthers – Jerry Richardson – Opened the first Hardee’s franchise in the early 60’s but his real money seemed to come from his rise to CEO of Flagstar.  It has/had over 2,500 restaurants and 100,000 employee.

Chicago Bears – Virginia Halas McCaskey – Inherited from her dad George McCaskey.  George was a coach who was involved with Football from the beginning of what is known as the beginning of professional football in the 20s! The article just states the team was transferred to him by the then owner.

Cincinnati Bengals – Mike Brown – Inherited the team from his father, Paul Brown.  Like George McCaskey Paul Brown was an old school coach from the beginning days of professional football.

Cleveland Browns – Jimmy Haslam – Bought the team this year for nearly a Billion dollars! He was the former CEO of Pilot Corporation which owns the Pilot Truck Stops found all over the Country.  His father started the Pilot Corporation.

Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones – Oil and Gas Exploration Company

Denver Broncos – Pat Bowlen – Inheritance from his father who founded Regent Drilling, a Canadian Oil Company

Detroit Lions – William Clay Ford, Sr. – Last living grandchild of Henry Ford

Green Bay Packers – Green Bay Packers, Inc. – Non-Profit Corporation since 1923.  Only NFL team to have this ownership structure.

Houston Texans – Robert C. McNair – Founder of Cogen Technologies which was sold to Enron.  He still owns Power plants in NY and West Virginia as well as multiple real estate holding and investment companies.

Indianapolis Colts – Jim Irsay – Inherited the team from his father, Robert Irsay (originally in Baltimore).  Robert made his money in various Heating and Air Conditioning Companies

Jacksonville Jaguars – Shahid Khan – Interestingly, he started a bumper supply company! A $2Billion a year in sales bumper company!

Kansas City Cheifs – Clark Hunt – Grandson of Oil Tycoon H.L. Hunt who was once the 8th richest men in the Country

Miami Dolphins – Stephen M. Ross – Founder and Chairman of The Related Companies LP a real estate development firm with $15Billion in holdings

Minnesota Vikings – Zygi Wilf – Grew his family’s real estate company from four shopping centers to a over 100-property holding company.

New England Patriots – Robert Kraft – I would love to read a biography about this guy! He was the founder of International Forest Products a paper commodity company (a top 100 importer/exporter).  He then leveraged that to be a part of a group that started to acquire radio stations in Boston…then Kraft bought an option to purchase the land across from the stadium and then eventually bought the stadium from bankruptcy court! All before owning the team.

New Orleans Saints – Tom Benson – Used the profits of his Automobile dealerships to purchase local banks.  The banks were combined to create Benson Financial which was eventually sold to Wells Fargo.

New York Giants – John Mara and Steve Tisch – John Mara is the 3rd Generation owner of the Giants.  His grandfather, Tim, was a bookmaker which was legal at the time.  Steve Tisch is the son of Bob Tisch who was a part owner of the Lowes Corporation (bought his share in 1991).

New York Jets – Robert Wood Johnson IV – Great Grandson of Johnson & Johnson.

Oakland Raiders – Carol (surviving wife) and Mark (Son) Davis inherited from Al Davis who was another old school coach that was involved in professional football since the beginning.

Philadelphia Eagles – Jeffrey Lurie – Owned a Hollywood Production company.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Dan Rooney – Inherited from his Father Art Rooney (Dan also bought out pieces from his siblings).  I couldn’t find where Art got the $2,500 to get the Steelers, but he did play semi-pro baseball.

San Diego Chargers – Alex Spanos – Self Made Billionaire from Real Estate Development.

San Francisco 49ers – Jed York – Inherited the 49ers from his father John York.  John was a cancer research Pathologist.

Seattle Seahawks – Paul Allen – Co-Founder of Microsoft

St. Louis Rams – Stan Kroenke – Real Estate Developer who also happened to marry the daughter of the Co-Founder of Walmart.

Tampa Bay Bucs – Malcolm Glazer – Owner of First Allied Corporation which is a holding company for multiple businesses including food supplies, marine protein, broadcasting, health care, property, banking, natural gas and oil, and finally investments

Tennessee Titans – Bud Adams – CEO of Adams Resources & Energy

Washington Redskins – Dan Snyder – Made his first million at 20 running a spring break company! He didn’t stop there.  He created Snyder Communications which provides marketing services which was acquired for $2billion in 2000.

It is hard to create a single theme between the owners as they have bought at different points in history.  If I was forced to make some connection I would say it is a mixture of SUPER entrepreneurs and inheritance.

 

What is your favorite team? Any deeper insight to share about the owner?

6 Responses to Where Did All the NFL Owners Obtain their Wealth?

  1. This is an interesting article, kind of cool to see how these guys built their wealth. Not surprisingly it looks like a majority of the owners built their wealth through owning and building businesses.

  2. OMG! I think this is the first interesting football story I’ve ever read!

    Hmm…. “Paul Brown was an old school coach from the beginning days of professional football.” So…did coaches make so much money they could afford to buy a football team? Or were teams a lot cheaper in the olden days?

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