Tag Archives: Pat Bowlen

The best and worst NFL owners

Michael Silver has a great two part series over on Yahoo! Sports rating the NFL Owners from #32 to #1.  Here are the highlights.

Oakland Raider owner Al Davis

The Worst Owner if the NFL, no secret here.  Al Davis

Think hard: Since the Raiders were blown out in Super Bowl XXXVII by the Bucs (and then-coach Jon Gruden, whom Davis dealt to Tampa Bay after failing to offer him a market-value contract extension), has he or Matt Millen been worse at running a team? It’s a tough call, and that’s scary. Now, sources say, Davis once again has cash-flow issues. In a July interview with team play-by-play announcer Greg Papa of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Davis said he was scaling back on grandiose birthday-party plans because he didn’t want to flaunt his good fortune in a bad economy. “What a joke that was,” says another owner. “He has no money – he’s trying to sell another 10 percent of his team to raise working capital. That’s what that was about.”

If I was Michael Silver, I would just retired #32 for Al Davis.  After he gives up ownership of the Raiders, you don’t become the worst owner in the league, you are just labeled Al Davis.  As a Denver Broncos fan, I hope he keeps control of this team until he’s 140 and then pulls a Walt Disney and leaves instruction on who to draft from the grave.

This one hurts if you are Cincinnati Bengals fan where Mike Brown is rated the second worst owner in the game.

It’s hard to put Brown’s philosophy in its proper context, but here’s a loaded attempt: He’s the 21st century’s answer to a Communist Party bigwig in the Soviet Union’s heyday – gaming a system steeped in shared revenues for his own benefit while setting new standards among his peers for brazen laziness. Says one owner: “Anything that’s going to force him to do any extra work, he speaks out against it.” In recent months, Brown voiced opposition to the league’s moves to allow teams to cut sponsorship deals with state lotteries and hard-liquor providers and to sell advertising decals on practice jerseys. When Saints owner Tom Benson asked for a waiver on club-seat revenues to help fund improvements at the Superdome – part of an admirable transformation that has pushed him away from his usual spot at or near the bottom of these rankings – Brown was the lone Grinch in the meeting room. “It’s a great American story, Tom Benson defying the skeptics and keeping the Saints in New Orleans, and [expletive] Mike Brown speaks out against it,” the same owner says. “Meanwhile, the guy has the best stadium deal ever. It was completely built for him and he has no operating expenses. He probably makes more money than any of us.” Nonetheless, Brown repeatedly advocates for additional handouts from his larger-market peers via revenue-sharing and spends as little of it as he can get away with on employees.

He does get some credit for not changing the Bengals helmets.  I still think they are one of the greatest in pro sports.  Other than that, I’m not so sure.  The stories of the Brown family’s thriftiness is legendary (like being the only team in the league that doesn’t serve breakfast for players).

There is some good news.  Tom Benson has risen up a couple of spots to No. 22 for his efforts to keep the Saint’s in New Orleans.

Benson, who clearly had a wandering eye even before Hurricane Katrina hit, responded to the disaster by recasting his legacy. “It’s hard for me to say this, because I’ve seen him say and do so many stupid things, but Tom Benson has been terrific,” says one longtime critic among his peers. “When everyone assumed he’d use Katrina as an excuse to line his pockets, maybe he viewed it as an opportunity to prove people wrong.” Last week Louisiana lawmakers approved a deal with Benson that will keep the team in New Orleans through at least 2025 and initiate improvements to the Superdome which, blessedly, should put New Orleans back in the Super Bowl rotation.

Okay, Benson’s ranking is the only one I can’t agree with.  He is doing what the Bush administration could not do and this is make a tangible effort at rebuilding New Orleans.

This one hurts Denver Broncos fans everywhere.  Pat Bowlen has a really bad off-season and slips to #17.

After years of relative stability and smart, league-friendly stewardship, Bowlen had what seemed to be the owner’s equivalent of a midlife crisis this past winter after the Broncos blew a playoff berth with a late-season collapse. First Bowlen fired longtime coach Mike Shanahan and replaced him with then-32-year-old Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Bowlen then allowed McDaniels to hire another neophyte, Brian Xanders, as his handpicked general manager. To say the newbies had a rough start was an understatement. In April McDaniels tried to trade 26-year-old franchise quarterback Jay Cutler, lost the player’s trust and acted as though damage control was beneath him, creating an untenable situation that finally prompted Bowlen to deal Cutler to the Bears. After Cutler successfully pushed his way out of town by alienating the owner, star wideout Brandon Marshall attempted to do the same and was miffed when the strategy didn’t work. He’s currently under suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Talk about a Rocky Mountain Low. Through it all Bowlen has been wishy-washy and weak, admitting during the Cutler saga that he’s been having short-term memory lapses. (That might also explain why Marshall’s agent, in June, said Bowlen had told the receiver in a one-on-one meeting he’d deal him while McDaniels insisted the Broncos had no such plans.) Bottom line: I’m worried about Bowlen. He’s only 65, but he appears awfully confused about the direction of his team. Oh, and here’s the capper to a horrid offseason: When Bowlen fired Shanahan, his coach and de facto GM, he wasn’t aware that a league rule required him to post a deposit for the balance of the outgoing employee’s contract. “So he had to give the league $21 million in cash,” one owner says. “Surprise.” Ouch, babe.

And here is a season where Bowlen is reportedly taking a more hands on approach with his team.  Personally I think he fired Shanahan because he just couldn’t fix the defense and there were a lot of questionable coaching calls made over the last couple of years that cost not only games but playoff berths.  The other thing is that Shanahan spent Bowlen’s money like it was going out of style.  It’s fine if you are Jerry Jones and it is your own money but when it is the boss’s money, they tend to get a little tense and uptight at you blowing their millions on players who don’t work out year after year after year.

We all know the Kraft family is going to be number 1 but number 2 is Jerry Jones

But if I were a Cowboys fan, I’d get down on my knees and thank the football gods for sending Jerry and his family to North Texas, and none of you will ever convince me otherwise. Among his many recent accomplishments: Jones, as chairman of the NFL Network, joined forces with Goodell to settle a long-running dispute with Comcast after successfully demonstrating that customers would cancel their cable service if denied access to the channel. Said one rival owner: “You’ve got to give it up for Jerry. The stadium’s spectacular. Four words: Big vision, big testicles.”

Can’t wait until next year and if Silver is correct, Bowlen won’t remember that this list was even published in a week and Mike Brown may be too lazy to read it.

Comments?  Anything he missed?

Pat Bowlen’s Letter to Fans

It can be summed up with, Jay Culter is lying to you about McDaniels and him not trying to contact him.

“Understand this: it remains about team,” Bowlen wrote. “Our franchise has gone to the Super Bowl six times, with three different coaches and with many different players. It has never been about one player, and it never will be. Coach McDaniels shares this vision, and everyone in the organization—players, coaches and staff—must understand and accept this unconditionally. If anyone does not, that person will not be a part of this franchise.”

Like I said before, that is an odd part of the equation.  I can understand not wanting to talk with McDaniels but I don’t know why Cutler ignored the calls from Bowlen.  For whatever reason, I think in the end, Cutler wasn’t strong enough emotionally to recover from having his coach and offensive coordinator fired and was going to take it out on whoever the new coach was and the owner.