The NFL has seen the ranks of ownership expand from a tradition of rich, aging, white men in recent years. But as more females become involved in ownership and control of NFL teams, from Martha Firestone Ford of the Lions to Dee Haslam of the Browns to Amy Adams Strunk of the Titans to Kim Pegula of the Bills to Gayle Benson of the Saints (Virginia McCaskey is listed as the Secretary of the Bears; her son, George is the Chairman), the league still doesn’t have a principal owner who is African-American.
The clumsy, ineffective manner in which the owners have handled the anthem controversy suggests that it would be helpful to have the perspective of an owner who represents a community whose members genuinely believe that they face constant threats to life and liberty via interactions with law enforcement officials. But the NFL still has no African-American controlling owner, and the NFL likely won’t have one any time soon.
Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes that Vikings COO Kevin Warren should be positioned by the league to purchase the next available franchise. In a lengthy article explaining the potential benefits of having an African-American owner, Souhan mentioned that, while writing a 2017 profile of Warren, his wife and others close to him said that Warren aspires to own an NFL team.
But unless being a team COO pays a lot better than believed — and unless Warren otherwise has amassed or inherited a major fortune through other business endeavors — Warren surely doesn’t have the money to serve as the controlling owner of an NFL franchise. By rule, Warren would need to come up with 30 percent of the purchase price in cash, and he’d otherwise need to have enough money to comfortably make payroll and cover all other operating expenses. If the value of an NFL team now stands at $2.275 billion (as paid by Panthers owner David Tepper) and if the value of a team will skyrocket in an environment of legalized gambling (as predicted by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban), Warren would need to have at least $682.5 million in liquid cash to get in the door, and that’s just to cover the 30-percent ownership minimum.
This doesn’t mean Warren couldn’t be part of an ownership group, with a much smaller piece of equity and a much larger voice. However, fewer and fewer people, regardless of race, will be able to afford NFL teams in the coming years. And with not many African-American billionaires (as of March 2018, Forbes listed only Robert Smith, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jordan in that category), it could be a long time until the NFL has the African-American controlling owner that many think it needs.