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In good (and bad) hands (Cont.)

Posted: Thursday June 29, 2006 12:44PM; Updated: Thursday June 29, 2006 4:28PM
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3. Dan Snyder, Redskins; 4. Wayne Huizenga, Dolphins; 5. Jeffrey Lurie, Eagles; 6. Jerry Richardson, Panthers; 7. Bob McNair, Texans; 8. MalcolmBryan, Joel and Ed Glazer, Buccaneers; 9. Pat Bowlen, Broncos

I can't believe I'm ranking Snyder this high, and a lot of people I know around the league are going to brutalize me for doing so, but right now Dan is The Man in two big ways: He has turned the franchise he loves into a money-making machine, and his willingness to spend that money in pursuit of victory is second to none. Plus, since his hiring of Joe Gibbs as coach, he has begun to learn to get out of the way on the football side.

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Huizenga is a shrewd businessman and a big spender who deserves a title in something other than baseball one of these years.

Lurie hires good people -- particularly team president Joe Banner -- and, though I don't always agree with it, sticks to a system when it comes to player-valuation.

Richardson runs his smaller-market team like it's one of the big boys, and as a former player he understands the game on every level. He wants to win, badly, and has been doing so as of late.

McNair has deep pockets and a horseman's flair for high-stakes gambles. His moves haven't paid off yet, but he is hell-bent on bringing Houston a winner.

Many Brits would like to do to the Glazers what former Manchester United star David Beckham does to soccer balls, and Malcolm and his sons have done some truly annoying things on U.S. soil, like their embarrassing, last-second spurning of Marvin Lewis four years ago. But overall, they've turned a dead NFL market into a flourishing enterprise, with a solid stadium situation (pirate ship and all), one of the league's highest-revenue operations and a habitually competitive team.

Bowlen has his quirks, and he gets hammered in Denver for his undying allegiance to Mike Shanahan, but it's tough to argue with success: Shanahan has won two Super Bowls and continues to field a competitive team, the Broncos play in a sparkling new stadium, and executive VP Joe Ellis does a good job on the business side.

Keeping it Real

10. Dan Rooney, Steelers; 11. Bob Harlan/John Jones/Green Bay Packers Inc.; 12. Lamar Hunt, Chiefs

Some might argue that Rooney isn't progressive enough, and the Steelers have certainly sacrificed talent over the years because of the bottom line. But you will never hear a discouraging word about Rooney from me. And right now the best of the old-guard owners is the man of the hour. Among the many things for which he deserves credit: Getting a new stadium built without ever having to threaten to move, and keeping ticket prices affordable in the process.

The Packers' ownership situation -- the club has been a publicly owned, nonprofit corporation since 1923 -- is a testament to collective unselfishness and civic commitment. Harlan, an exemplary CEO, will step down next year, with current president Jones as his successor. Coming off a resplendent stadium renovation in the league's only small market, the franchise is cruising, even as the team rebuilds and bids farewell to an icon.

Hunt works hard to generate revenue in a less-attractive market and spends money on players. He also has the self-confidence to give his most powerful employee, Carl Petersonthree high-level titles (president, general manager, CEO), though this owner's last league title came more than 3˝ decades ago.

Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy

13. Jimmy Irsay, Colts

A lot of people think Irsay is a flake, but if so, he's my kind of flake -- a guy who quotes Dylan lyrics and dresses on game day like he's backstage at the Stones. Given that his late father, by most accounts, was sort of a nightmare, I give Irsay props for falling far from the tree. He also got a stadium deal done in Indy and, though I'd rather eat Field Turf than hang out with Bill Polian (and I'm sure the feeling is mutual), hired a sharp team president and deferred to him on football decisions.

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