Al Davis' death on Saturday has allowed a younger generation of fans to learn that the kooky Raiders owner was once one of the greatest minds in professional football. As the proud owner of three Super Bowl rings, the only person to hold positions as an assistant, head coach, general manager, owner and commissioner in pro football certainly went out with a case to make as the top owner in the NFL.
Now that he's gone, there's still a lot of competition for that title.
Robert Kraft needed just 11 years to match Davis in the championships department, celebrating the Patriots' third Super Bowl victory on the field in Jacksonville in 2005. Under Kraft's watch, the Patriots have transformed from a league laughingstock into one of its model franchises.
More controversial, but no less successful, is Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. His methods may be annoying, but the results can't be argued. Jones took over the Dallas franchise in 1989, booted legendary coach Tom Landry, and soon was covered in confetti as the Cowboys raised the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in 14 years. In the first eight years under Jones' control, the Cowboys made the playoffs six times and won three championships.
A year before Jones took over in Dallas, Dan Rooney took the reins of the family franchise in Pittsburgh. The results were just as immediate. The Steelers made the playoffs in 1989, went to the Super Bowl in '95 and won it all in '05 and '08. The Rooney family has come to define stability in the AFC.
Yet the Rooneys aren't the longest-standing ownership group in the league. Over in the NFC, the Maras have controlled the Giants since Tim Mara founded the franchise in 1925. Two generations later, John Mara shares team ownership with Steve Tisch and the Giants are still successful, having won the Super Bowl in 2007.
Then again, it's easy for a single multi-millionaire or billionaire to build a great organization, right? There's a bit more pressure when you're Packers chairman Mark Murphy and you have 112,000 stockholders to answer to when one of your decisions doesn't pan out. Since the franchise's first stock sale in 1950, the Packers have built the league's iconic venue in Lambeau Field, hired the most famous coach in pro football history in Vince Lombardi, and won four Super Bowls (two coming before the name "Super Bowl" was even used).
Other owners have owned their clubs for a long time and enjoyed some success. Bud Adams has controlled the Titans/Oilers since 1960, the same year Ralph Wilson became the boss of the Bills. Bill Ford came along with the Lions four years later. Bill Bidwell has called the shots for the Cardinals since they played in St. Louis.
NFL owners wear their status as a badge of honor and little would make them more proud than being known as the first among equals.
Powered by WordPress.com VIP