NFL has no approval process for owners who transfer their team to family members

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When an outsider buys all or part of an NFL team, a full-blown approval process becomes activated. When an owner of an NFL team dies and transfers all or part of the team to one or more family members, no approval process applies.

It’s a question that more than a few Texans fans have posed in recent weeks, hopeful that perhaps the powers-that-be would deem Cal McNair unqualified to officially assume the reins of the franchise his late father founded in 2002.

Technically, Janice McNair is listed as Co-Founder and Senior Chair of the Texans. Her son, Cal, is the Chairman and CEO. Regardless of whether Cal owns equity now or will acquire it as part of the administration of his mother’s estate, the transfer was or will be automatic, with no league procedures for approving, or not approving, Cal’s ownership of the team.

Tweaks have been made over the years. In 2014, for example, owners were required to identify every year the person who would succeed the owner, if he or she dies. (The objective is to prevent families for fighting over control of the team.) As one league source explained it to PFT on Sunday morning, however, it’s unlikely that the league would ever adopt an approval process for spouses, siblings, sons, daughters, etc. who inherit a team.

The reason for avoiding an approval process for family members is simple. As the source explained it, there are too many owners who know that one or more of their children would not get the 24 votes necessary to approve the transaction.

And that’s one of the very real dynamics that makes pro football so compelling. These multi-billion-dollar football organizations ultimately are ruled by monarchies, with each king or queen deciding who takes over at the appropriate time. As long as there are sufficient resources available to pay the estate taxes (and that’s becoming more and more challenging as franchise values continue to climb), the keys can be handed to any family member — no matter how badly that person could or will screw things up.

16 responses to “NFL has no approval process for owners who transfer their team to family members

  1. It’s a great point. I don’t know how they’d do it, or who would be able to decide. But teams are more and more being handed over to people who have no idea how to run a franchise. But it’s definitely a good subject to consider. Give me a couple days. I’ll come up with an answer. Lol.

  2. The idea of a business organization (basically what the NFL is) deciding who you can or can’t leave your business to is absurd and frankly un-American

  3. I think the NFL would be smart to have each owner set down with very smart lawyers and have there will up to date and have the NFL set in with there advice. Make sure who the owner want to have ownership after they pass on. Bill

  4. I don’t have a problem with it, either. Even if it’s bad for the team, the person who ponied up a couple of billion dollars to buy the team should have the right to transfer ownership to any family member they choose.

  5. While I am sure Bob would hate to see the team the way it has become. He did leave to his widow and she put their son in charge. He was the one who used his money for the team.

  6. If an executor controlled an estate, a lot of children would have challenges becoming a controlling owner but at least they would be benchmarks they’d have to reach.

  7. collectordude says:

    February 14, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Not their business what happens to an owner’s assets.

    curtis20 says:

    February 14, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    An owner can do what they want, the NFL doesnt have any say in it. Period.

    The Owners ARE the NFL. The NFL IS the Owners.

    So yes the NFL has the power and has left that Power to each of themselves to decide who gets to inherit their team….thus the League.

  8. Worried about the product stinking from the top (i.e. the ownership for each team), as well as worried that the ownership is not hiring the best qualified people to work / run their teams? Why not address both with a simple rule like; if your team does not qualify for the playoffs at least ‘X’ number of times in a ten year span, you are forced to give up ownership and sell the team?
    Would get rid of the argument of too many bad owners, and if owners knew their heads were now on the block – they would only hire the best candidates they could find (so issues of race, sex, etc. bias would also be lessened, unless they were just masochists – in which case getting rid of them would be a benefit).

  9. The owner is giving the team away so there isn’t a sale to be approved. I see no problem with that at all.

  10. Nor should they. I know the ax they like to grind on here is about nepotism, but that is the way things work. Do you really want 3 to 4 team every decade changing ownership. I am curious why other owners would care less what is thought about family members taking over.

  11. It would have to be an agreement that all owners signed off on stating that whoever they willed their team to would have to meet certain criteria and be vetted by the owners. Without 100% agreement by all owners it couldn’t be done.

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