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11/19/2007 01:25:00 PM

Five Owners We Love

Robert Kraft
Robert Kraft has seen an unbelievable amount of success since purchasing the New England Patriots.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com

During the waning seconds of MLS Cup 2007, we were treated to a shot of losing New England Revolution owner Bob Kraft, frowning in dismay as he exited his owner's box. Wait, Bob Kraft, the same man responsible for Gilette Stadium and the resurgence of the Patriots also owns the Revs? Yes, he does, and this got us thinking about the five best owners in sports, the five people we'd love to have own our team.

1. Bob Kraft: Since buy the Patriots in 1994, Kraft has managed to build a state-of-the-art stadium and appear in more playoff games than in the team’s first 34 years combined. His Revolution are also the only team in MLS history to have had every game in franchise history televised (even if their color commenter needs some work).

2. Mark Cuban: Sure, he dances with stars and spars with Donald Trump, and he's never met a controversy he couldn’t talk his way out of, but as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Cuban has never let money stand in the way of anything, from travel arrangements to his player personnel. And I can't think of any fan who wouldn't ask for the same from their owner.

3. George Steinbrenner: I guess he's technically not running things day-to-day in New York any longer, but his Yankees are still the standard that other baseball teams will always be held against. And his hair-trigger decision-making makes him fun to observe even if you hate the Yanks.

4. Mario Lemieux: He's retired now, and his Penguins haven't exactly torn up the NHL, but you have to respect Lemieux's hustle, as he figured out a way to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh and battled cancer to continue his amazing career.

5. Jerry Jones: He's an...interesting looking guy, but regardless, he's made the Cowboys a contender once again, even while he's co-starring in diet soda commercials.

Which other owners should've made The List? Let us know below...

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at slamonline.com.
posted by SI.com | View comments |


Posted: November 19, 2007 2:10 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Arthur Blank. Shells out the bucks. Cares for his employee’s welfare. Gets blindsided by employees' character issues and tries to handle these privately. Truly wants to build winning programs that can capture and hold the local fans' support. Believes in the future of Atlanta. No, he's not perfect. Yes, he's made some "rookie owner" mistakes. All in all, he's head and shoulders above the Smiths. He sure beats an artificial entity (insert name of corporation).

[Sigh] It's just too bad that Captain Outrageous has outgrown owning sports teams. Can't you envision the little boy in a Braves hat crying out, "Come back, Ted! Come back!"
Posted: November 19, 2007 2:56 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
He can be a little brash, but what owner can't? ...and a little family controversy never hurts (Sorry Baltimore). He brought together Tony Dungy, Edgerrin James then carbon copy Joseph Addai, Marvin Harrison, Peyton Manning and then the Lombardi trophy. Not to mention, he's responsible for one of the best promotional gags in sports history with the city-wide Super Bowl ring scavenger hunt. Should I even go on with the charitable foundations? Put Jim Irsay on this list please.
Posted: November 19, 2007 3:00 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Ummm is there a reason Mr Rooney (and family) isn't on this list? He's done SO much for the NFL, treats his team, players, coaches, and fans with respect, and the Steelers (even with a horrible loss to the Jets) have been contenders most of the last several decades, including the recent SuperBowl 40 win. Not only that, but the Steelers have the largest fan base of any team in any sport in the country, and I guarantee it's largely in part due to the Rooney's running of the Steelers.
Posted: November 19, 2007 3:18 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
My first choice would be Bill Davidson who owns the Detroit Pistons, WNBA Detroit Shock, and the Tampa Bay Lightning. A quality owner who knows what he doesn't know. He doesn't try and exert his will. He is a fan jus tlike the rest of us.
Posted: November 19, 2007 3:47 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Jorge Vergara. He owns Mexico's historic Guadalajara and is part owner of MLS's Chivas USA. Also owns team in Costa Rica and wants to own another in China. He's like a Mexican Steinbrenner. Some hate him, but he's getting the job done.
Posted: November 19, 2007 3:51 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Ted Turner--the Braves were actually winning with him as owner!
Posted: November 19, 2007 4:20 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Jerry Buss because his benefits package for his coaches ( or is that "friends with benefits" ) is unequalled in sports.
Posted: November 19, 2007 4:23 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Marg Schott because no matter how badly you performed on the field as long as you did some things right you can't be all that bad.
Posted: November 19, 2007 4:25 PM   by Anonymous Rush
Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons. You can smoke pot, kill some dogs, bomb as a QB, and rob your team of money year after year and he will still push you around in a wheelchair on the sidelines even though he is worth billions. I would love to work for him.
Posted: November 19, 2007 5:00 PM   by Anonymous Jonathan
Ted Turner: Sure his early days with the Braves were a bit ruff, but he worked hard to keep the Braves in Alanta even when he couldn't really afford to own them. Evintually built them into the dynasty that won 11 straight Division titles.
Posted: November 19, 2007 5:05 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Mike Illitch. Rose 2 franchises (Tigers and Red Wings) from the dead. Also is single handedly re-inventing downtown Detroit. Also makes a darn good pizza !!
Posted: November 19, 2007 5:09 PM   by Anonymous Colin
Continually Mr. Rooney is left off of these types of lists. It is a simple case of sportswriters being so shortsighted that they simply pick whoever is hot right now. Mr Rooney has been an instrumental part of the rise of the NFL. He has five championships and his team is always in the mix. He is a great employer and everyone who works for him loves him. Also, he cares about his city and community.
Posted: November 19, 2007 5:20 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Mike Illich his players love him I know hockey is a dieing sport but he runs his Baseball team and Hockey teams one of the best in all sports. The Wings were the Yankee's of Hockey and look and the Tigers seem to improve every day. This from a guy who just sells Pizza's. come on where is the LOVE!
Posted: November 19, 2007 5:37 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Check out Dan Gilbert...
If you love Bob Kraft, then you obviously love CHEATERS. If he had an ounce of integrity, or valued such in his employees, he would have already fired Bill Belichick. We know what's important to Mr. Kraft, and it has nothing to do with integrity.
Posted: November 19, 2007 6:30 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Enough said.
Posted: November 19, 2007 9:27 PM   by Anonymous Zervas
The owner of the Packers: The good people of Wisconsin, no other owner would have kept such a valuable team in a market so small.
Eugene Melnyk, Ottawa Senators.

He's super-rich, he's from Canada, he's a huge hockey fan, and he's committed to the team and the market. Every small market team's fantasy owner. Edmonton and Calgary should be so lucky.
Posted: November 20, 2007 9:49 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"color commenter"? but anyway...
Ted Turner opened up the checkbook made sure the Braves had what they needed. The Glazers have done well down in Tampa too.
Posted: November 20, 2007 10:15 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How about John Henry? He ended the Red Sox' "curse," revitalized the farm system (Pedroia, Youkilis, Papelbon, Lester, Delcarmen), saved Fenway Park from the wrecking ball, actively engaged the fan base and brought home two championships (and counting).
Posted: November 20, 2007 11:22 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Jerry Colangelo.
peter holt: no nonsense owner who understands what his team means to the city and allows the people under him to make the decisions that has allowed them to be perpetual contenders for a decade.
Posted: November 20, 2007 11:56 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Vincent Kenendy McMahon
Posted: November 20, 2007 12:10 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Kraft's place on this list highlights perfectly the current mindset of all the 24-36 year olds currently providing grist for the mill in sports media these days: Winning is all that matters. The Patriots win, so Kraft must be a good owner. The fact that he condones (and even rewards) cheaters in his organization shows the lack of character at the top. Belichick may be a great football coach (though we'll never really know about those first three titles), and Brady may be a great quarterback (ditto), but they are men of poor character who have been proven to lie and cheat in their private and public lives. Kraft knows this and happily employs them, all the while talking about the importance of character. He's a joke, like this list.
Posted: November 20, 2007 12:12 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
If you are going to look at Mario Lemieux for his rep, then Cal Ripken should be on the list. He may only own minor league teams but what he has done for baseball and the areas where his teams play put him ahead of some of the other guys on the list.
Posted: November 20, 2007 12:24 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Charles Wang. His vision will revitalize a huge part of Long Island, create jobs, improve quality of life and make the Islanders a choice destination for players and fans.
Posted: November 20, 2007 12:59 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
If you're going to show an NFL owner with a Lombardi, at least show one who doesn't cheat--
Dan Rooney.
Posted: November 20, 2007 1:46 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Jerry Buss. How can you possibly leave him off your list? You cannot argue with the success he's had for so long and the aura he's built for the Lakers.
What about Artie Moreno of the Angels? His first order of businesswas to lower beer prices, now that's an owner anyone can get behind.
Don't forget Peter Holt. The Spurs have been contenders for over a decade and all they players manage to stay out of trouble. San Antonio is a small town disguised in a big city's costume.
Posted: November 20, 2007 4:20 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
You would have to list Dan Rooney. Everyone says that the Steeler organization is the class of the NFL. I would also put Jerry Buss of the Lakers up there, except for the last 3 or 4 years. He stole LA away from the Dodgers and had very few down years until the clash of the mongoloids (Shaq & Kobe) brought the franchise down.
Posted: November 20, 2007 8:23 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Dude: The Rooneys. None of the brash crap of Mark Cuban (though I don't hold that against Cuban as much as most), but WAY more substance and style. Guidance with grace. Class acts all the way. And good decision makers. Can't argue that they've maintained an outstanding tradition over many years. Top of my list, by a large margin.
Posted: November 20, 2007 8:56 PM   by Anonymous Joe Gotta Go
Anybody but Daniel Snyder. He has single-handedly ruined the Redskins. Overpays for washed up free agents, has the highest payroll for a coaching staff, and the most coaches on a NFL staff.
By the way,all non-football employees consider him a big time jerk too. Demands everyone call him Mr. Snyder.
Posted: November 21, 2007 9:22 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Mike Illitch is far and away the best owner in all of sports. His dedication to winning and putting top talent on the ice or playing field for the fans is what drives him...nothing else. He also never stands in the spotlight to make a fool out of himself like that idiot Cuban. Mike Illitch and Rodger Penske are pulling Detroit from the depths of hell and deserve to be recognized for their efforts!! Go Wings and Tigers!!!
Posted: November 21, 2007 11:00 AM   by Anonymous Jim
What about Jim Irsay? He took over a struggling Colts franchise from his deceased father with a poor reputation, had to deal with his fathers reputation, prove he wasn't the same man as his dad and turned it into a model of NFL excellence. Lucas Oil Stadium will come on board next season. Irsay is now doing something no other owner has ever done. He's giving a Colts fan a chance to own a Super bowl ring!
Posted: November 21, 2007 11:09 AM   by Anonymous ken
William Clay Ford! I mean just look at what he has given fans of the Lions, no other owner has been able to do what he has through his illustrious career.
Posted: November 21, 2007 11:12 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Me. Because I own part of the Green Bay Packers.
Posted: November 21, 2007 11:36 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How about a list of the five owners we hate.. The Yorks, Herb Kohl, Robert Nutting, James Dolan, and David Glass?
Posted: November 21, 2007 11:49 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Mike Illitch, look what he has deon for two Pro franchises!
Posted: November 21, 2007 12:17 PM   by Anonymous odog
Posted: November 21, 2007 1:31 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Rooney's, Rooney's, Rooney's, they were there when the NFL began and have fought to keep the league at the highest standards possible. Besides never taking the spotlight from the players or saying anything negative against any of the players. They are loyal to the coaches and the city.
Posted: November 21, 2007 1:49 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Pat Bowlen of the Denver Broncos. Players and coaches like working for Mr. Bowlen.

Do you think John Elway would come back to watch the Broncos at nearly every home game if he didn't enjoy his career in Denver and with Mr. Bowlen?
Posted: November 21, 2007 2:59 PM   by Anonymous Brian (NJ)
For all those chastising Mr. Kraft for condoning, or as some have some implied, fostering, an environment of cheating due to the "spygate" scandal, I just have to ask whether any of you actually have a clue as to what allegations you are so ferociously complaining about?

These cheating comments are some of the most absurd, knee-jerk reactions that I have read in a while, and to be candid, show a complete lack of understanding of the spygate situation as a whole.

When you complain about cheating, I can only assume that people complain about NE stealing signals. Please keep in mind that stealing signals is NOT (I repeat NOT) illegal in the NFL. Teams are perfectly free to use (and do use) many methods to take other team's signals. Using binoculars to watch an opposing sideline, or using the VIDEOCAMERA IN THE TEAM BOX to videotape the opposing coaches are all common occurrences and do not violate league policies.

Therefore, I if not the signal stealing itself, I can only assume that the venom that is spewing on this topic are, instead, regarding NE videotaping from the sidelines vs. one of the other methods described above. So that said, am I to understand that you are so offended by NE using a video camera to steal signals while you are fine with using binoculars? What, pray tell, then is the huge advantage that is gained by videotaping vs. binoculars when the net result is knowledge of the same opposing team's signals? I admit that taping is easier and a more surefire way to get the signals, but lets not all be naive that binoculars won't result in the same thing with a bit more work.

So, I guess that this national outrage must come down to the fact that NE did less work to get signals then other teams, who had to spend more manhours to achieve the same goals? See how absurd this is starting to sound? Thats how silly all of these soap-box diatribes come across. The facts are that NE broke a rule instituted in 2005 (after the NE Superbowl wins, mind you, before that time, videotaping was not illegal either) b/c it is a way to get signals w/ certainty. NE paid the price and moved on. But lets not pretend its more than what it actually is, a small infraction that was punished w/ severity to prevent future infractions from other teams.

To say that Kraft or NE somehow now lack integrety is both false and ridiculous.
Posted: November 21, 2007 4:47 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I would say Kenny Williams. He bought a World Series Trophy to Chicago! He isn't afraid to make bold moves and even though he might not be the most personable guy ever....he is all about winning.
Posted: November 22, 2007 9:28 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Brian from NJ,

That's the best explanation of the situation that I've ever seen posted. Unfortunately these facts will probably have no effect on the trolls who are so mindlessly jealous of the Pats' success. Because that's really what it is - their teams did not win, so they have to latch onto anything to drag down a team that achieved what their teams' didn't. I particularly appreciated your pointing out that what the Pats did broke no rules prior to 2005, which was AFTER they won the 3 super bowls - so much for the claim that those wins are tainted. What other teams that we don't know about also practiced this perfectly legal maneuver prior to 2005? We'll probably never know, but in the end it makes no difference. The Pat's players defeated those other teams on the field, which is where it counts, and that's that. Move on, trolls.
Posted: November 22, 2007 12:43 PM   by Anonymous RTD6B
How about Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, And Richard Childress?
Posted: November 22, 2007 3:24 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Get off the Patriots nuttz. Bob Kraft has built multiple youth sports fields, a state of the art stadium , 3 soon to be 4 Super Bowls, etc. Stop beating a dead horse w/ the "cheating". It is lame and pathetic. They still watch film of every team they play, so what if they had a different angle with a private HD Shoulderpack HD990( it is a HUGE camara, by the way, so they sure were trying to "cheat" with such sneaky equipment lol) So do some research on what really happened insted of the media driven hype. Crybabies.
Posted: November 25, 2007 12:20 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Steinbrenner doesn't really deserve to be on this list. Yes he's getting the age-sympathy vote, but to me he symbolizes the arrogant blowhard team owner that many of us detest. Give me the Rooneys. The recently-deceased NY Giants owner. And the Green Bay Packers owners :)
The only Americas Team Your Green Bay Packers
Posted: November 26, 2007 11:47 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
how Bout george gillet owner of the Montreal Canadiens
Posted: November 26, 2007 11:00 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How can you not include the owners of the Green Bay Packers? The greatest franchise in all of professional sports.
Posted: November 27, 2007 1:21 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Posted: November 28, 2007 12:24 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How can a list contain Jerry Jones but exclude Art Rooney II?

The Steelers franchise is a model of consistency, and that begins at the very top. Terrific front office.

Jerry Jones, on the other hand, almost brought his franchise to its knees as a bumbling faux GM and it took Parcells to restock the talent.
Posted: December 5, 2007 11:23 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How can you leave out the greatest owner's of all time, the Green Bay Packers' owners! The fans own them, I would have to say they are the best, just a thought
Posted: December 7, 2007 9:43 PM   by Anonymous Michael M of North Arlington
How about the Mara family who have owned the Giants football team with grace and dignity!
Posted: December 10, 2007 11:47 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
No one loves Steinbrenner. I do love Kraft
Posted: December 23, 2007 8:21 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
paul allen deepest pockets in all of sports
Posted: December 26, 2007 11:58 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Mark Attanasio, the owner of The Milwaukee Brewers. He's made baseball matter once again in the Brew City.
Posted: March 12, 2008 2:47 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I guess the fact that Mr. Rooney and his family are not on the list is because they stay in the background and let the players and coaches enjoy the spotlight. However, any football fan who takes the time to study the history of the game has to put the Rooney family on top. They have not strayed from the syle and class that Art Rooney led by, and have managed the team to make it a success and enjoyable to work for.

I can't knock on Robert Kraft though. Regardless of what the Patriots' coaching staff are accused of, he has rebuilt the team and given back to the community. Good for him.
Arte Moreno
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