You find the best blog-worthy articles on the entire internet when you don't do anything at work for the first hour...
I read an article today on ESPN.com compiling the opinions of several writers as to who they thought were the best owners in the NFL. Naturally, ESPN only surveyed 4 writers, because they did not want a sample that reflected the true feelings of the population. As such, the vote was split between two owners: New England's Bob Kraft, and $h!++$burgh's Dan Rooney. The latter, of course, did not sit well with me.
The problem I have with this simple survey is that the writers read "Who is the best owner" and voted for who they thought was the best team of the last ten years. I fail to see where either of these two owners strive above and beyond the rest. Kraft has won three Super Bowls recently, but how much of an impact has he really made? All he does is sign the players his coaches and scouts tell him to, and wait for Tom Brady to make another daring and dramatic fourth quarter comeback. Kraft gets the glory and gets to put the Lombardi Trophy on his mantle, but his role in the whole ordeal is truly minor.
Rooney somehow made the list, and he does significantly less than Kraft. Rooney doesn't even make the effort to retain the players they do have. Rooney has let players like Kevin Greene, Kendrell Bell, Jason Gildon, Kordell Stewart, Plaxico Burress, Joey Porter, and Keydrick Vincent depart via free agency because he's too cheap to resign them. Rooney abuses a player until it's time to reward the player for the job they have done, then tosses them out into the street like it didn't even matter. If anything, Rooney has done more to hinder his team than to help them.
Naturally, when 30 out of 32 owners are left out of the discussion, the fans will speak up on their behalf. The message boards were alive with fans demanding to know why Pat Bowlen (Broncos), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), and even Dan Snyder (some delusional nut thought the 'Skins owner was worthy) weren't even included in the discussion. And of course, jokesters were out in full force in mock support of the Ford Family (Lions), Al Davis (Raiders), and the Bidwell Family (Cardinals). One obviously knowledgeable poster even mentioned a Mr. Steve Bisciotti as an up-and-comer to watch.
I know what you're all expecting. You're all expecting me to rant about how Steve deserved to be on the list, and how he's the best owner, and that it's wrong that he's not on there. To be sure, Steve does deserve it, but he's still so young and so fresh as an owner that he should pay his dues before being mentioned as the best owner in the league. That day will come, but it's not here yet.
Instead, I would like to make a case for the owner that should've been #1 with a bullet. Drumroll please.... the best owner in football is.... the owners of the Green Bay Packers. Don't know who it is? Go to Green Bay and ask anybody there, and they will probably tell you that they own the team. And they wouldn't be lying. Green Bay is the only professional sports franchise in the country that is actually owned by the fans. And it's a glorious idea.
Think about it. The city owns the team, so the team can't relocate. The citizens of the city have a genuine vested interest in the team, because they own it. Proceeds from merchandise and tickets and vendor sales all go back to the owners, which is the city. The citizens get to help make the decisions, because they own part of the team. I could go on and on, because this is clearly the best way to own and operate a franchise.
I wish other cities had the gull to run a team like Green Bay does. Truth be told, it's probably the only way the Packers can be run, because they reside in the smallest market of any team. One person can't front enough money to run the franchise on his/her own and keep the team in Green Bay, so why not just draw from the wells of the taxpayers. If Baltimore owned the Ravens, I wouldn't mind paying taxes so much, because I could see the tax dollars being put to a legitimate, good use (OK, I know I barely pay taxes, and I don't technically live in the city, but you get my point).
I know it's just idealistic thinking, and it would never fully happen, but it would be a pretty cool day if all cities owned and operated their sports franchises. People would be so passionate about their teams and players, and care so much more about how things are run and who is playing and coaching. It would be like every pro franchise had the same type of following that a college team does. There are no fans more passionate than college fans, because the team they root for represents them directly. Now everybody take a second and think how great it would be if just one particular, Mid-Atlantic based baseball team were actually owned and operated by the city in which it resides. What a great day that would be.