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Money men (cont.)

Posted: Monday July 2, 2007 12:15PM; Updated: Monday July 2, 2007 4:42PM
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5. Daniel Snyder, Redskins

Though he has yet to make the Redskins a consistent winner, owner Daniel Snyder has succeeded in making his team one of the most valuable in all of sports.
Though he has yet to make the Redskins a consistent winner, owner Daniel Snyder has succeeded in making his team one of the most valuable in all of sports.
William E. Amatucci Jr./WireImage.com
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If anything, Snyder tries too hard to build a winner. In January '06, when Snyder wooed former Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders with a three-year deal worth more than $2 million annually, it seemed like a great move on paper. Instead, Saunders' philosophy clashed with that of head coach Joe Gibbs, which was one reason the team fell from a playoff appearance in '05 to a 5-11 finish last season. Snyder's zealous mentality also enables Gibbs and VP of football operations Vinny Cerrato to overpay for free agents like Adam Archuleta, Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd, none of which helps the on-field product.

But hey, at least he's trying. Snyder will get it right eventually, if only because he won't settle for anything less -- a quality far too owners possess. And he is pulling in an enormous profit in the meantime, thanks to his innovative marketing strategies. He's also more of a team player on the league level than you might imagine, as evidenced by his willingness to go along with the revenue-sharing plan that ensured labor peace in the spring of '06.

6. Jeffrey Lurie, Eagles

Philly has been hit with some tough circumstances over the past eight months: Franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb's ACL tear (and ensuing drama over his perceived job security, or lack thereof) and Andy Reid's five-and-a-half-week leave of absence this winter as two of the coach's sons faced legal and substance-abuse issues. But Lurie's steady, reasoned ownership style, and the excellent management approach of team president Joe Banner, will keep the organization humming.

The Eagles, for better or worse, stick to a rigid system of player valuation, and it works for them. Lurie is a positive, progressive force in league circles who generates revenue through Lincoln Financial Field, which opened in '03 after the team sank $310 million into the project.

7. Bob McNair, Texans

Like Snyder, McNair is an aggressive, personally invested owner who desperately wants to field a winning team. Unlike the Redskins' boss, McNair hasn't even come close to doing so.

Since the Texans joined the NFL in '02, there have been a lot of dubious decisions on key matters, from the stubborn insistence that David Carr was a franchise quarterback to the selection of Mario Williams over Reggie Bush and hometown hero Vince Young in the '06 draft. McNair, at the very least, deserves some blame for hiring the people who made those decisions.

That said, he has established a highly valued franchise in a market the NFL had abandoned. He also worked exceptionally hard on last year's revenue-sharing plan. And, on a self-serving note, McNair's may be the most media-friendly organization in the league.

8. Wayne Huizenga, Dolphins

Huizenga was fourth in last year's rankings, and deservedly so: He's a brilliant businessman who works hard to generate revenue (some of it secured through smart stadium upgrades) and is willing and able to spend money in an attempt to build and maintain a winning team. But I can't get past the way he smiled and grinned and practically sucked up to Nick Saban as the deceitful coach -- after having denied he was interested in the Alabama job for weeks -- slithered off to Tuscaloosa. As the Miami Herald's Dan LeBatard so masterfully pointed out at the time, "Huizenga went after Ricky Williams and his money with cutthroat zeal, and Williams is still paying him back. But Saban just broke a contract, too."

My sources tell me Huizenga seethed in private but was too much of a gentleman to say anything disparaging about Saban in public. Forgiving Williams's imaginary debt and letting the halfback get on with his done-with-football life would be an equally gentlemanly gesture that'd make Huizenga look like much less of a hypocrite.


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