Ranking the NFL Owners, Part I


We are almost a year removed from the lockout drama of 2011, and with a couple of exceptions, most of the current owners have had their chance to put their own influence on an organization. Here are your NFL owner rankings after 2011.

I like to do things objectively, so I went through and found each ownership group, the date they took over, and then tried to measure by the bottom line. In the NFL, the bottom line is winning. So I found the winning percentage for each owner, the percentage of seasons in which they have been in the final eight teams in the league in the playoffs, and the number of Super Bowl appearances and wins.

I was going to incorporate a factor dealing with things like how each owner handled the lockout, but then in looking at the list of teams that instituted furloughs, realized that it generally corresponded with owners who had losing records. I’m not sure such an adjustment is necessary.

My rankings are based on how the teams for these owners have done since taking over, based on wins, playoffs, and titles. Shahid Khan and Mark Davis are not included since they just took over, though Davis’ bowl cut would be worth a few demerits. I’ve also tried to take some slight account of recent performance for long time owners, though the past cannot be forgotten.


1. Robert Kraft, New England Patriots. This one is a no-brainer. Owning the team in New England may seem easy now, but Kraft bought the team when it was at a low point and saved it from a move to St. Louis. He has since built his own new stadium in Foxboro, and did so by doing something unimaginable, spending his own money and developing Patriot Place around the stadium. His teams have been in the final eight in more than half the seasons he has owned the franchise, and have six Super Bowl appearances. (18 seasons, 67.0% win percentage, 6 SB Appearances)

2. Dan and Art Rooney II, Pittsburgh Steelers. Art II is officially in charge with Dan serving as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, but this era began in 1988. While the glory years of the 70’s occurred under Art Sr., the franchise has been even more stable and consistent under his son and grandson. (24 seasons, 61.1% win percentage, 4 SB Appearances)

3. John Mara and Steve Tisch, New York Giants. These two inherited the team from their respective fathers when each passed away in 2005. They have again been a model of consistency over this time, and recently partnered with the Jets to build the new stadium without public financing. The two Super Bowl wins over this span is tied with the Steelers. (7 seasons, 60.7% win percentage, 2 SB Appearances)

4. The People of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Green Bay Packers. That’s right, one of the best owners in the league hasn’t even been an individual. Going back to 1960 (when the oldest of the current owners began) the Packers have won 7 titles and have had several strong eras. (52 seasons, 55.7% win percentage, 9 SB or NFL Champ Game Appearances)

5. Steve Bisciotti, Baltimore Ravens. Like Kraft, Bisciotti is a fan who was a self-made success then purchased his hometown team. He has largely stayed out of the way and let Ozzie Newsome do his job, and the results have shown. The decision to oust Brian Billick and the John Harbaugh hire was not conventional at the time but has worked out very well. (8 seasons, 60.2% win percentage, 0 SB Appearances)

6. Pat Bowlen, Denver Broncos. The Bowlen family saved a struggling (off the field) franchise in Denver when they purchased the team, and have been one of the most consistently successful franchises since Pat Bowlen came in. Down in recent years, the team has brought on hero John Elway to run things, and was able to successfully woo Peyton Manning this offseason. (28 seasons, 58.9% win percentage, 5 SB Appearances)

7. Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts. Irsay may come across as a weird dude on Twitter, but he has far surpassed his father as an owner, and made some bold moves this offseason to rebuild for another era. (15 seasons, 60.8% win percentage, 2 SB Appearances)

8. Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles. Under Jeffrey Lurie, the Eagles have enjoyed the finest era in the team’s history since the Steve Van Buren days. All that has eluded them is a title. (18 seasons, 56.6% win percentage, 1 SB Appearance)

9. Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys. Jones catches a lot of criticism as a meddling owner, but his franchise has had more success, both off the field and on it, than most owners during his tenure. He recently constructed the Jerry Dome and hosted a Super Bowl, and fans can question the moves, but never the desire to win. (23 seasons, 53.8% win percentage, 3 SB Appearances)

10. Virginia (and Michael and George) McCaskey, Chicago Bears. The Bears, since George Halas’ passing in 1983, have still been among the more successful franchises in the NFL. (28 seasons, 53.8% win percentage, 2 SB Appearances)

11. Jed York, San Francisco 49ers. York took over for his father three years ago, and has already been involved in the new stadium, as well as making the bold move to outbid and out recruit others for Jim Harbaugh. The team looks poised to have success going forward under the younger York. (3 seasons, 56.3% win percentage, 0 SB Appearances)

12. Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons. Blank survived through the tumultuous Michael Vick saga and the Bobby Petrino affair incident quick escape. The Falcons have enjoyed one of the most successful periods in the franchise, with only playoff success escaping them. (10 seasons, 54.7% win percentage, 0 SB Appearances)

13. Paul Allen, Seattle Seahawks. With Paul Allen in charge, the Seahawks have been a perfectly average franchise over time, some good playoff years, and the franchise’s lone Super Bowl. (15 seasons, 50.4% win percentage, 1 SB Appearance)

14. Bud Adams, Tennessee Titans Houston fans might disagree after Adams moved the franchise, but Adams has, through good years and bad years, often fielded competitive teams over time, and the Titans continue to be a solid franchise. If you disagree, Bud has something for you. (52 seasons, 49.4% win percentage, 3 SB Appearances or AFL Championships)

15. Ralph Wilson, Buffalo Bills. Wilson’s standing has slipped in recent years, but he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 and was integral in the formation of the AFL. The Bills made noise this offseason with Wilson paying out a big contract for prime free agent Mario Williams. (52 seasons, 46.7% win percentage, 6 SB Appearances or AFL Championships)

Part II will be tomorrow.

[photos via US Presswire]