Becoming the owner of a professional sports franchise comes with an almost immediate increase in reputation and stature. Regardless of how an owner acquired their massive wealth, once they purchase a team, their primary identifying quality is their status as a franchise owner. Along with this increase in statute comes increased scrutiny from the media and the general public. Under the watchful eyes of the public some of the eccentricities of these owners take the spotlight rather than the achievements of their respective teams.
Owners hold a unique position in sports. They wield more power than general managers, coaches, and players because they possess the ability to hire, fire, or trade almost any member of their organization. This power can sometimes become all-consuming and lead to their downfall, but often there are no real consequences for the outlandish actions of team owners. However, if an owner’s actions are patently offensive to the public or illegal, public opinion and fellow owners may turn against them.
Recently, owners are being increasingly forced to adhere to the rules and regulations that apply to players and other league personnel. Their outrageous actions are being dissected under the microscope of the media on a daily basis. Pundits make a living commenting on their lifestyles and the era of discretion among the media is over. In this new era, the personal lives of franchise owners is scrutinized with the same intensity that players receive. This new era has revealed that franchise owners can be downright crazy.
20 Silvio Berlusconi – AC Milan
19 Frank McCourt – Los Angeles Dodgers
18 Dan Gilbert – Cleveland Cavaliers
17 James Dolan – New York Knicks, New York Rangers
16 John Spano – New York Islanders
15 Dan Snyder – Washington Professional Football Team
14 Donald Sterling – Los Angeles Clippers
13 Marge Schott – Cincinnati Reds
12 Mike Brown – Cincinnati Bengals
11 Peter Pocklington – Edmonton Oilers
10 Jim Irsay – Indianapolis Colts
9 Wayne Huizenga – Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins, Florida Panthers
8 Harold Ballard – Toronto Maple Leafs
7 Mohamed Al-Fayed – Fulham FC
Mohamed Al-Fayed purchased Fulham Football Club for only £6.25 million in 1997. Two years later Michael Jackson attended a league game featuring Fulham taking on Wigan Athletic. Al-Fayed succeeded in making Fulham a Premier League mainstay during his tenure as owner. In 2011, a statue was unveiled outside Craven Cottage depicting the famous singer, which was a little bit insane...
6 Vincent Tan – Cardiff City
5 Bill Veeck – Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Browns
4 Jerry Jones – Dallas Cowboys
3 Mark Cuban – Dallas Mavericks
2 George Steinbrenner - New York Yankees
1 Al Davis – Oakland Raiders
Al Davis lived by the credo “Just Win, Baby.” Throughout his ownership of the Raiders his teams have fluctuated between winning and losing. He traded head coach Jon Gruden, benched Marcus Allen following a contract dispute, and drafted a kicker in the first round. He also hired and fired the first African-American coach in NFL history. Al Davis had a reputation for battling with the league in court and had a notorious rivalry with former NFL Commissioner Pete Rosell. The Raiders also would abstain from all league votes, as they continue to do with his son as owner, which is another way that Davis would rebel from the league he helped merge with the AFL, Late in his life, the Raiders suffered through many losing seasons, but Davis’ passion for the game and involvement remained.
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