If you want to be successful in any business, it has to start at the top.
The National Football League and its 32 teams are no different. Each club is its own company and no matter how talented one may be on the field of play, the franchise has to be run properly from the top.
Here’s a look, alphabetically, at all of the NFL teams’ owners. Some play pivotal roles in the day-to-day operations, a few have passed on the work to other while some take a different approach whatsoever.
Whatever works, works. And in some cases it’s worked out well. For others, the waiting game continues.
Especially when it comes to winning a Super Bowl title.
Photo source: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have actually been around longer than the National Football League itself.
The franchise was founded in 1898 and became a member of the NFL in 1920.
William Bidwill is the current owner of the Arizona Cardinals. His father, Charles, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, bought the team in 1933. It has remained in the family ever since.
William took over in 1972 when the team was still based in St. Louis. They had moved there from Chicago 12 years earlier, in 1960.
It was off to the desert in 1988, as they became the Phoenix Cardinals. That then changed to the Arizona Cardinals in 1994.
Regardless of their name, the franchise hasn’t won an NFL title since the Chicago Cardinals finished on top in 1947. Sadly, Charles Bidwill passed away in April of that year, and never saw his team win the championship.
The Cards got close to winning Super Bowl XLIII in 2008, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the closing seconds.
Bidwill remains one of the league’s most resilient owners.
Perhaps it’s only fitting that Atlanta Falcons owner/chairman Arthur Blank made his money via “The Home Depot.”
It’s taken a little patience, but Blank has built himself quite a football organization.
Although the team has yet to taste Super Bowl glory, the decision to hire general manager Thomas Dimitroff in 2008 is paying off for Blank. The former New England Patriots executive hired head coach Mike Smith, drafted quarterback Matt Ryan that April and the club has not had a losing season since.
Blank, who took over the team in 2001, has seen the Falcons reach the playoffs six times in 12 seasons. From 1966 to 2000, the franchise also made six postseason appearances.
You could make a case for the defending champion Baltimore Ravens being one of the league’s most storied franchises.
Mostly because the team that was “founded” in 1996 already had quite a story.
As many know, the Ravens were the artist formerly known as the Cleveland Browns. They were brought to Baltimore by then-owner Art Modell.
These days, Steve Bisciotti is at the helm. He has been involved with the franchise since 2000, but has only been the majority owner since 2004.
Bisciotti made his money away from football at a company called Aerotek.
The Ravens that have been soaring as of late, as Baltimore is the only NFL team that has reached the playoffs in each of the last five seasons.
As is well documented, the Buffalo Bills haven’t completed the circle in regards to a Super Bowl title.
But that’s not to say that this franchise hasn’t enjoyed success.
Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Ralph Wilson, Jr., has been the owner of the Bills since the team was an original member of the American Football League in 1960.
The Bills were AFL champions in 1964 and 1965. They were also AFC champions an unprecedented four straight years from 1990-93.
With so much parity in the NFL today, it's hard to imagine another team reaching four straight Super Bowls anytime soon.
On the downside, the Bills also haven’t reached the playoffs since 1999. That's the longest postseason drought in the league.
With new head coach Doug Marrone at the helm, Wilson hopes that this is the year he sees his beloved Bills play a little extra football.
Carolina Panthers founder and owner Jerry Richardson has seen many sides of the NFL.
He has gone from from catching passes tossed by Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas as a member of the Colts, to bringing the NFL to the state of North Carolina in 1993.
The Panthers were a hit from the get-go.
Even though Carolina finished just 7-9 in it's first season, it set a record for the most wins by an expansion team. A year later, the team would reach the NFC championship game, falling short to the Green Bay Packers.
In 2003, just two years removed from a 1-15 season, the Panthers would play in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Unfortunately, despite the near-miss in 2003, this is a franchise that has never made consecutive playoff appearances.
Lately, the Panthers haven’t enjoyed a winning season since capturing the NFC South in 2008.
But Richardson may have the makings of a good team in 2013. With an emerging defense and the continued improvement of quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers could be poised to make a run.
Being a grandson of Pro Football Hall of Fame player George Halas certainly has its privileges.
It also has its pressures.
For George McCaskey, the current man at the top of the Chicago Bears organization, expectations, (realistic or not), are always high in the Windy City.
Only the Green Bay Packers (13) have won more NFL championships than the Bears (nine).
But Chicago’s last title came nearly 30 years ago, when Mike Ditka’s team shuffled the New England Patriots out of the Superdome in Super Bowl XX.
The former ball boy first began working for the team at the age of 14. So McCaskey is well aware of the passion that the city of Chicago has for the Bears.
The passion will be at a fever pitch with head coach Marc Trestman taking over in 2013.
The Cincinnati Bengals first took the field in 1968 in the American Football League.
With them was not only the owner, but also the head coach; a man named Paul Brown.
The Hall of Fame legend was one of the game’s true pioneers.
In just the third year of the Bengals' existence, Brown led the team to an AFC Central Division title. Brown stepped down as the team’s head coach following the 1975 season. He passed away in August of 1991.
These days, things are looking pretty good for the Bengals.They have reached the postseason in three of the last four years, including the last two seasons in a row.
But that wasn’t always the case when Brown’s son, Mike Brown, inherited the team.
The Bengals failed to post a winning record in 14 straight seasons from 1991-2004. They lost 12 or more games in seven of those campaigns.
Current head coach Marvin Lewis is one reason why things are looking up for Cincinnati. Now let's see what he can do about the team's playoff victory drought.
Jimmy Haslam is the third owner of the Cleveland Browns as we know them today. The franchise returned to the NFL via expansion in 1999 after the original team was moved to Baltimore by Art Modell.
This edition of the Browns has had their share of issues.
The franchise has enjoyed just two winning seasons over the last 14 years. They have reached the playoffs just once, while losing more than twice as many games (151) as they have won (73).
Perhaps things will change under Haslam, who took over the team a year ago from Randy Lerner. This offseason, the Browns once again changed head coaches, hiring Rob Chudzinski, the former offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers.
Haslam, who was unanimously approved in October as the Browns’ new owner, has been in the news in recent months for a different reason.
Here’s hoping that Haslem, and this latest fresh start for the troubled franchise, is just what Cleveland fans ordered.
If there’s a more discussed owner currently in the National Football League than Dallas Cowboys leader Jerry Jones, there must be a 33rd franchise no one knows anything about.
Jones took over the Cowboys in 1989 and immediately made a splash, (or what it a thud?), by firing head coach Tom Landry, the only sideline leader the franchise had know over its first 29 seasons.
The Hall of Fame coach was replaced by Jimmy Johnson. Johnson inherited a 3-13 team and promptly led them to a 1-15 season.
You probably know the rest of the story.
Johnson and Jones would go on to glory in Super Bowl XXVII and Super Bowl XXVIII, but Johnson was gone after the second championship due to personal differences between the two men.
Enter Barry Switzer, who led the club to the NFC title game in 1994 and a win in Super Bowl XXX a year later.
Enter, (and exit), have become popular terms in Dallas as Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells, Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett have all been head coaches during the Jones Era.
And since the Cowboys last Super Bowl appearance in 1995, the team is 138-134 during the regular season and 2-7 in the playoffs.
Today, Jones remains the central figure of the league’s most discussed team. It will be interesting to see if the franchise, as currently constructed, can once again return to Super Bowl glory.
It’s anyone’s call.
Or is it?
It would be pretty cool to see a grateful John Elway turn to his owner and proclaim, “This one’s for Pat.”
As Pat Bowlen prepares for his 30th season as the owner of the Denver Broncos, he's hoping that his former star quarterback Elway, who helped bring quarterback Peyton Manning to Denver, will have his hand in another Super Bowl win for the franchise.
These days, John Elway oversees the football operations with the Broncos. His relationship with Bowlen goes back to 1984, Elway’s second season with the team as its quarterback and Bowlen's first.
Denver has made five Super Bowl appearances under Bowlen's watch, and won titles in 1997 and 1998.
Coming off a 13-3 season in 2012 and with Manning returning as quarterback expectations are high in Denver.
Would you expect anything less?
It’s happy anniversary time in the Motor City.
William Clay Ford will be celebrating his 50th year as the sole owner of the Detroit Lions in 2013.
The grandson of Henry Ford (yes, that Henry Ford) purchased the team in 1964, although he has been affiliated with the organization dating back to 1956.That means the owner and chairman of the Lions did get to see his team win an NFL title in 1957.
Unfortunately, that year marks the last championship for a franchise that hasn’t even won a division title since 1993, and hasn’t come out on top in a playoff game since 1991.
And in a division that boasted three 10-win teams a season ago, getting back to the postseason for a second year in a row won’t be easy.
The Green Bay Packers are truly unique to say the least.
The franchise is the National Football League’s only community-owned team.
The Packers were formed in 1919 and officially joined the NFL in 1921. For obvious reasons, I'm not going to list all of its shareholders. Currently, Mark Murphy serves as the club’s president and CEO, a title he has held since 2008.
Speaking of titles...
No organization in the league has more than the Packers. The team’s 13 championships are four more than the Chicago Bears have.
Green Bay remains the only franchise in the league annals to capture three straight titles. Prior to the arrival of postseason play, the Pack were the NFL champions from 1929-31.
They won three straight titles again nearly four decades later from 1965-67. The last two crowns were in Super Bowls I and II.
Green Bay remains “Titletown” indeed.
While the game of football has a rich history in the city of Houston, the Houston Texans are in the midst of just their second decade of existence in the NFL.
Owner Bob McNair has been there from start.
The successful businessman was awarded an NFL franchise in 1999, and the Texans took the field in 2002.
After nine somewhat entertaining but frustrating seasons, the team has now captured back-to-back AFC South titles and won a franchise record 12 games in 2012. Still, the last two years have been a case of “deja lose.”
Wild Card wins over the Cincinnati Bengals have been followed by setbacks to the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, respectively, in the next round of the playoffs.
Perhaps a third try will be the charm for McNair and company.
It took more than a little while, but the Indianapolis Colts have certainly become a hit in a city known more for auto racing and a particular steakhouse.
In 2013, the Colts will play their 30th season in Indianapolis. The franchise as we know it now actually played 31 seasons in the city of Baltimore (1953-83) before making a very late move in 1984.
These days, it’s Jim Irsay, (rumor has it he’s popular on Twitter), and not the late Bob Irsay, calling the shots for the team. This is a club that has reached the playoffs 10 of the last 11 years.
Jim had to make the unpopular move of letting go of star quarterback Peyton Manning following a 2011 season in which the four-time league MVP never took the field due to a neck injury.
But the 2012 Colts proved to be an amazing story. They finishing 11-5 and reached the playoffs just a year after a 2-14 season.
These days, Irsay has a lot of “Luck” on his side.
Led by general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano, we’ll see just how far these rebuilt Colts can go.
Automotive supplier and businessman Shahid Khan purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars less than two years ago.
And so far, there hasn’t been much value on his investment.
In 2012, the Jaguars tied for the worst record in the league at 2-14, a mark which set a new franchise standard for futility. Head coach Mike Mularkey was out after one season and Gus Bradley is the new man at the controls.
Khan hopes to put this team back on the map. Jacksonville hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2007 and over the last five seasons the club is a combined 27-53.
The Kansas City Chiefs may not have always been the Kansas City Chiefs, but they have always been a part of the Hunt Family.
The franchise was founded by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Lamar Hunt, who passed away in 2006. Hunt was one of the American Football League’s original eight owners. After three years in the Lone Star State as owner of the Dallas Texans, Hunt moved the team north and they became the Kansas City Chiefs.
Besides the obvious ramifications surrounding barbecue, it's hard to argue that the move wasn't a good one for the team.
Hunt’s Chiefs would go on to become the most successful team in the 10-year run of the AFL in terms of wins and titles.
The Chiefs would represent the league in Super Bowl I, and then play in the final game before the merger with the NFL, defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
Hunt’s son, Clark, was officially named the team’s chairman and CEO in 2011 although he’s been involved with the team much longer than that.
Sadly, that Super Bowl win more than 40 years ago remains the last NFL title for the franchise. In fact, they haven't even won a playoff game since 1993, and are coming off a disastrous 2-14 season.
We’re about to find out what new head coach Andy Reid can do.
Only the Pittsburgh Steelers have won more regular-season games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger than the Miami Dolphins.
But it wasn’t long ago that the Dolphins were on the top of that list.
It also wasn’t long ago that the franchise was in the hands of owner H. Wayne Huizenga.
In 2008, when Stephen Ross purchased 50 percent of the team. Today, Ross is the chairman of the board and the Miami’s managing general partner, owning a 95 percent stake.
After stunning the football world by winning the AFC East in 2008, the Dolphins have followed with four straight losing campaigns.
The Dolphins hope to turn things around after a very aggressive offseason.
This will be the ninth season that Zygi Wilf has been in charge of the Minnesota Vikings. It has been a series of ups and downs for the franchise of late.
At the moment, however, things appear to be looking up.
After reaching the NFC title game in 2009, the Vikings combined to win just nine games over the next two seasons.
But a year ago, Leslie Frazier’s club was one of the NFL’s biggest surprises. They finished 10-6, and grabbed a Wild Card berth.
One thing is for sure, Viking's fans will be hoping running back Adrian Peterson can meet or surpass last season’s near-record total of 2,097 yards rushing.
Wilf hopes to keep the momentum going for the Vikings, as they will transition to playing in a new stadium soon.
Face it, some people are just good at their craft.
And some people, like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, are just good.
The Patriots are a model of consistency, as Kraft embarks on his 20th season at the top spot of the organization.
New England has amassed 12 straight winning seasons, tied for the seventh-longest streak in NFL history. The Pats have also won 10 of the last 12 AFC East titles, and have been to a half-dozen Super Bowls under Kraft’s watch. They won three titles in a four-year span from 2001-04.
The Patriots are not just as a flash in the pan—the aforementioned six Super Bowl appearances have come over the course of three different decades.
This team shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
There have certainly been some highs and lows for New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson.
But the beloved gentleman, who purchased the club in 1985, wasted little time putting the right people in place for a franchise that had yet to experience a winning season since entering the NFL in 1967.
In 1987, under the leadership of general manager Jim Finks and head coach Jim Mora, the Saints captured their first winning season and playoff berth. Mora would lead the club to the playoffs three more times.
These days, it’s general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton at the controls.
You also may have heard of their quarterback—Drew Brees.
Payton and Brees arrived in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. The Saints reached the NFC title game in ‘06, and won Super Bowl XLIV three years later.
The Super Bowl victory gave Benson and the city of New Orleans something to celebrate.
When you think of the New York Giants, you think old school.
Of course, you could also think baseball. Before the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants made the Bay Area their home, they were also residents of the Big Apple.
In 1925, Tim Mara founded the football franchise that would go on to win eight NFL titles, including four Super Bowl championships.
Current Giants President and CEO John K. Mara, who has been with the franchise for more than two decades, is the son of the late Wellington Mara. Both Wellington and his father Tim are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While the Mara Family knows its game film, Steve Tisch, the team’s Chairman and Executive Vice President, knows both film and football.
Tisch, a co-owner of the franchise as well as successful television and film producer, has also been affiliated with the Giants for more than 20 years. He assumed his current title with the passing of his father, Preston Robert Tisch, in 2005.
It's safe to say that it has been a good partnership between Mara and Tisch. The Giants co-owners have seen the club capture two Super Bowls, XLII and XLVI, in recent years.
Kids do the darnedest things.
Things always figure to be somewhat entertaining when you’re talking about one of the teams from the Big Apple.
But business is business. And in 2000, Robert Wood Johnson IV became the owner of the New York Jets.
While the last name is common, it’s also significant…as in Johnson & Johnson.
Now if “Woody” can only cure what has been ailing the Jets for nearly 45 years; a return to the Super Bowl.
It wasn’t long ago that the franchise appeared on track after losses in both the 2009 and 2010 AFC Championship Games.
But those days already seem far away. And it will be intriguing to see what kind of moves Johnson makes should head coach Rex Ryan produce a third-straight non-winning season.
The late, great Al Davis passed away nearly two years ago.
The member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame was one of the game’s most imposing and successful figures. He led the Raiders to five Super Bowl appearances and won three of them.
With Davis’ passing, the ownership of the Silver and Black is now entrusted to his son, Mark Davis.
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in Oakland.
Since 2003, the Raiders are a combined 49-111 and have gone 10 straight years without a winning season. General manager Reggie McKenzie, in his second year with the team, hopes a bountiful free-agent class, the acquisition of quarterback Matt Flynn and 10 draft choices can reverse the franchise’s losing ways.
There have been plenty of other changes in Oakland in recent weeks as documented in this piece by Yahoo! Sports’ Michael Silver.
One can only wonder what Mark Davis will do to put his personal stamp on this organization.
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is an Academy Award-winning producer.
He’s also had his share of hits on the football field.
Winning the Lombardi Trophy, however, has eluded him thus far.
Lurie took over the Birds in 1995. In 1999, he hired Andy Reid to be his head coach; a move which would spark a quite a run of success for the franchise.
It all came crashing down in 2012 when the Eagles finished 4-12, their worst showing since 1998. Reid was let go after 14 seasons with the team.
Now it's Chip Kelly and his new-look, fast-paced offense to the rescue in the City of Brotherly Love.
Lurie has done a solid job as owner of a beloved team with very passionate fans.
You want a legacy?
Here’s a legacy.
The Rooney family has owned the Pittsburgh Steelers since the franchise was born in 1933.
Today, Arthur J. Rooney II oversees the operations of the league’s most successful team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
Of course, it wasn’t always that way in the Steel City.
From 1933-71, the Steelers made just one postseason appearance and had no playoff wins.
But that all changed with the hiring of Chuck Noll in 1969.
Pittsburgh has made a record-tying eight Super Bowl appearances under just three head coaches. Their six Lombardi Trophies are a league-high as well.
Both the late Art Rooney, and his son, Dan, are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If the Steelers’ success continues, could the work of the current Art, Dan's son, be rewarded as well?
Current St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke certainly has a passion for sports.
Along with being at the helm of the Rams, Kroenke owns the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and is actively involved in soccer in England.
And that’s just the professional aspect.
Kroenke purchased the Rams in 2010, and is hoping the acquisitions of head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead pay off sooner rather than later.
The duo is off to a good start. St. Louis finished 7-8-1 last season, and owned the NFC West’s best record in 2012 at 4-1-1.
Fisher and company quickly put the club’s 2011 record, 2-14, in the rear view mirror.
And by remaining aggressive this offseason, especially in the draft, Kroenke’s Rams figure to make things interesting in the NFC again this season.
Alex Spanos made his bones in the construction industry. And in 1984, he purchased the San Diego Chargers.
Ten years later, the elder Spanos turned the operation over to his son Dean, the team’s current chairman of the board and president. That season, the Chargers reached their first and only Super Bowl (XXIX). In 2013, the younger Spanos will enjoy his 20th season at the helm of the club.
The family business in San Diego would like to be doing better business on the field. A year ago, the Chargers missed the playoffs for the third straight year following four consecutive AFC West titles.
New head coach Mike McCoy hopes to lead this team back to contention as the franchise still looks for that elusive Super Bowl victory.
One day, perhaps, we will see Eddie DeBartolo Jr. in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But that’s a story for another time.
Eddie’s sister, Denise, and her husband John, are now the co-chair's of the San Francisco 49ers.
Eddie helped build the Niners into a football dynasty after his father, Eddie DeBartolo, Sr., bought the club in 1977. San Francisco won five Super Bowl titles under his guidance.
Today, the Niners appear to be on the ascent again, to say the least. Under head coach Jim Harbaugh, the team reached the NFC title game in 2011 and lost Super Bowl XLVII in February.
Before 2011, the Niners had failed to post a winning season for eight straight years from 2003-10.
And with team CEO Jed York overseeing things, it is comeback time in the Bay Area.
Southern California tried to taketh away, but instead Southern California ended up giving the Seahawks exactly what they needed.
A little less than two decades ago, there was talk of the Seattle Seahawks relocating. Paul Allen put a stop to that.
The founder of Microsoft and current owner of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers bought the Seahawks in 1997.
Since then, the franchise has enjoyed its share of peaks and valleys.
Under head coach Mike Holmgren, hired in 1999, the team became a mainstay atop the NFC West. They peaked in 2005 when they reaching Super Bowl XL.
These days, with former University of Southern California head coach Pete Carroll on the sidelines, expectations are again sky-high.
Last season, with the help of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the team finished 11-5 and was a late field goal away from the NFC title game.
The ‘Hawks have indeed proven to be a very wise investment for Mr. Allen.
It has been nearly 20 years since Malcolm Glazer purchased the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995. And while times have been tough on the field as of late, this is still a franchise that has come a long way.
In 1995, the Bucs selected Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp and star linebacker Derrick Brooks in the first round of the NFL Draft. In 1996, the club hired head coach Tony Dungy—and they were off to the races. Dungy guided the Bucs to four playoff appearances in six years.
And in 2002, Glazer,who also owns soccer powerhouse Manchester United, brought in Jon Gruden to take them over the top.
Gruden came through—in a big way.
He helped the team reach the ultimate goal: a convincing 48-21 victory in Super Bowl XXXVII over the Oakland Raiders.
That was then, and now there have been no playoff appearance in Tampa Bay since 2007.
Current head coach Greg Schiano has his work cut out for him in the always unpredictable NFC South.
Some would say Tennessee Titans owner “Bud” Adams is an original.
They would be factually correct.
Adams is one of the original owners of the eight teams that would form the American Football League in 1960.
Those Houston Oilers turned into the present-day Tennessee Titans. The franchise moved from Houston to Tennessee following the 1996. The Oilers moniker then morphed into the Titans in 1999.
But what’s in a name, anyway?
In the first year of their new identity, then head coach Jeff Fisher led the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV.
They came up just short; a yard short, to be exact.
Adams, a successful businessman in the oil fields, has also fielded his share of successful football teams.
The Oilers won the first two AFL titles in 1960 and 1961, and were in the playoffs five times during the league’s 10-year run.
While they've only had one Super Bowl appearance, the franchise was at it's best in the late 1970s with head coach Bum Phillips and Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell. The Oilers also reached the playoffs seven straight years from 1987-93.
Unfortunately, the Titans did make another kind of history in 2012. Mike Munchak’s club allowed a league-high 471 points, the most in the 53-year annals of the franchise.
While he has certainly had his share of critics, perhaps things are finally starting to come together for Daniel Snyder and his Washington Redskins.
The long-time fan turned owner of the club has been at the helm of the franchise since 1999.
There have been lots of head coaches during his tenure.
Snyder inherited Norv Turner and in 1999 and the team reached the playoffs. But before the 2000 season ended, Terry Robiskie was the interim head coach.
All told, Mike Shanahan is Snyder’s seventh head coach. Last season, under Shanahan, the Redskins won the NFC East for the first time since 1999.
The team has put a lot of emphasis on drafting smartly recently, something foreign to the club for decades when Snyder was doling out big money to free agents that rarely lived up to billing.
Now let’s see if the Redskins can give their owner and their fans an NFL title for the first time since 1991.