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Best owners in sports (past and present)

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by outofplace, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Since we have been debating the worst, I figured it was worth a discussion of the best.

    I think the criteria should include the success of the franchise with the owner, impact on the league and character issues. Are there any other measures I am missing?

    I will be incredibly predictable and bring up Dan Rooney for a spot near the top of the list. His father Art was still the owner during the dynasty of the '70s, but Dan had already taken on a huge part of the day-to-day decision making by then. He was officially named team president in 1975. Good luck finding a pro sports franchise with more stability at the top over the last 40 years. The Steelers have more Super Bowl championships (six) than they have had head coaches (three) since hiring Chuck Noll in 1969.

    Like the Rooney rule or not, the man has had an impact on the league as a whole. He is already in the NFL Hall of Fame and stepped aside from running the organization when President Obama chose him as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

    There are plenty of other great candidates. Obviously as a Steelers fan, he is just the one I know the most about. Who else belongs in the discussion?
  2. Ashy Larry

    Ashy Larry Active Member

    Bob Kraft. Saved a terrible franchise, turned it into a winner and kept it from moving to St.Louis. He also built a new stadium with his own money, and has played a key role in the television deals for the NFL.
  3. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    No doubt on the Rooneys, OOP, and the same goes for the Mara family, especially Wellington Mara.
    If Mara doesn't agree with and support the original revenue sharing plan, a bunch of NFL teams might have folded before the merger with the AFL.
    The Ginats right now are as solid and successful as any franchise in sports and it all flows back to the class and business acumen of Wellington Mara.

    And say what you want about him, Steinbrenner bought a floundering Yankees franchise for $10 million in 1973 and has made it the richest, most valuable franchise in sports...as well as the most successful over the past 15 years. Like him or not, Steinbenner could have taken a lot more profit ouot of the Yankees through the years but instead put the money into the franchise in moe ways that just buying players.
  4. Gutter

    Gutter Well-Known Member

  5. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    As a Pacers fanboy, I would have to nominate the Simon brothers. Not only did they save the team when they bought it in 1984, but they also have never been over the top in trying to work with local authorities. They were successful enough with Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis to get investors to roll their profits into Conseco Fieldhouse. They have never tried to go on the cheap, nor have they banged the drums about moving the team if things ever got bad. The Pacers are consistently discussed as one of the class organizations of the NBA, even if the team had a stretch where the players weren't. They consistently show they love the team and the city it's in, and that's a recipe for good ownership.

    Also, Jim Irsay has to get some award for being almost everything his father is not. At least he was smart enough to fire himself as GM (two first-round picks for Fredd Young will be in his obit), unlike some owners with new stadiums we know.
  6. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Mara and Steinbrenner came to mind for me, too. The character issue is a bit of a drawback for Steinbrenner and I'm not sure you can say that he has had a positive impact on MLB as a whole, but for the Yankees he has been a fantastic owner.

    Ashy, good point on Kraft.

    What about Mark Cuban? No championships, but he certainly rescued a franchise that was a disaster financially and competitively and built it into an extremely profitable team that is a consistent contender.
  7. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Saint Ronnie pardoned Steinbrenner on his way out the door, so scratch the character argument in the eyes of the law. Cuban is farther down the road to lawlessness in that regard, although right now the SEC complaint against him is civil rather than criminal.
  8. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    And Wellington is indirectly responsible for this:

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  9. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    Lamar Hunt belongs in this discussion. He had the good business acumen to realize quickly that the Texans weren't going to beat the Cowboys for supremacy in Dallas, so he swallowed his pride and moved the team to Kansas City, where the Chiefs became arguably the AFL's dominant franchise. I've always believed that it was KC's Super Bowl win over the Vikings, more than the Jets' win the year before, that finally convinced the NFL to take on the AFL as equal partners. The Jets beating Baltimore could be passed off as a fluke, but the way the Chiefs completely dominated Minnesota drove home the point that the AFL was for real. After the merger, in which Hunt was a driving force, he was instrumental (along with Ewing Kauffman) in getting the Truman Complex built, and he always seemed to strike the right balance between staying on top of his franchise while letting his people do their jobs.
  10. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    Ralph Wilson. Unless he doesn't set up some plan to keep the Bills in Buffalo (well, OP actually) after he dies. Then he's dead to me.
  11. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    Peter O'Malley needs to be in this discussion. In fact, if you're a Dodgers fan (which I'm not), you'd prefer that he'd take the reins back to what was perennially not only the classiest team in baseball, but one of the 100 Greatest Companies to work for, as illustrated by a book of that name that came out in the 1980s.

    Especially in light of what is now happening between the McCourts. Don't be surprised if this tears the Dodgers up, especially in light of California's community property law and the debt load Frank took to buy the team.

    O'Malley not only hired good people and let them do their jobs without meddling or needless interference (note "needless" qualifier; after all, it's his team), but he created a stable franchise that not only produced on the field, but became THE model for how a sports franchise should operate.

    Both my bosses used to work for the Dodgers. One of them tells the story that after one season, O'Malley sent the ENTIRE front-office staff to Hawaii for vacation as a thank-you.
  12. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Any Yankee fan has to love Steinbrenner on balance, because of the family's willingness to spend money, though the fact that their best sustained years came when George was proscribed from having anything to do with player personnel decisions must give you at least a moment's pause.

    A class act? No chance. Not ever. As always, the telling test . . . how did he treat employees who didn't have the power to get back at him?

    Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. No appeal. Next.
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