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Sell The Team! Ranking The Five Worst Owners In The NFL

Daniel Snyder - NFL Owner Washington Commanders

The NFL is one of the most popular and profitable sports leagues in the world. With 32 teams spread across the United States, the league is home to some of the most passionate fanbases and successful franchises in sports history with NFL teams reaching astronomical financial valuations in recent years.  However, not all teams are created equal, and some are hampered by poor ownership. In this article, we will take a closer look at the NFL's five worst owners.

While there are many factors that lead to a team's success or failure, the owner is often the driving force behind a franchise. A good owner can provide stability, vision, and resources to build a successful team, while a bad owner can create chaos and dysfunction with poor decision-making or a too-frugal financial approach. The five owners on this list have been identified as some of the worst in the NFL, due to their poor track record of running their respective franchises.

From meddling in personnel decisions to failing to invest in their teams financially, the owners on this list have routinely made missteps that have negatively impacted their franchises on and off the field. Some have simply struggled to build a winning culture, while others have alienated their fanbases with their behavior and comments. In this ranking of the five worst owners in the NFL, we will take a closer look at each of these five owners in more detail, and explore their - largely negative - impact on their teams and the league as a whole.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


#5. Jimmy Haslam III, Cleveland Browns

Jimmy Haslam promised change for the long down-trodden Browns when he bought the team from Randy Lerner in 2012. However, it's been more of the same for the struggling Cleveland franchise during Haslam's tenure, as the organization has gone a woeful 59-118-1 in his 11 years at the head of the table.

Haslam's ownership tenure has been marked by losing on the field and bad decisions off it. The Browns have hired five head coaches during Haslam's time owning the team, four of whom were fired and have subsequently never been NFL head coaches again. The fifth - current Cleveland HC Kevin Stefanski - has squeaked out a winning record (26-24) at the helm of the Browns, though he's now suffered two consecutive losing seasons since going 11-5 during the 2020 COVID campaign.

While the coaches put in position by Haslam have been largely underqualified to run a team, they haven't had much help from the organization's player personnel decisions. The team's draft picks and trades have been largely disastrous, and include a litany of disappointing players selected in the first round, including Johnny Manziel, Baker Mayfield, and Justin Gilbert.

As if the horrible coaching hires and terrible draft choices weren't enough, Haslam most recently led the charge to bring disgraced and controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson to Cleveland in a package that included sending three first-round draft picks to the Houston Texans and inking Watson to a contract with $230 million full guaranteed.


#4. Dean Spanos, Los Angeles Chargers

Nepotism seems to be a recurring theme when talking about some of the NFL's worst owners and that's the case with Dean Spanos, who inherited the Chargers franchise from his father, Alex Spanos.

Owners that move their teams are always the target of hate from hometown fans and Spanos has certainly drawn the ire of the San Diego faithful for moving the Chargers to Los Angeles in 2017. San Diego was the Chargers' home since 1961, but Spanos relocated the franchise when attempts at building a new, tax-payer-funded stadium in San Diego repeatedly fell through.

Instead of working for a resolution in their home base of nearly six decades, or simply putting up the financing for a stadium himself, the notoriously-thrifty Spanos opted for the financial benefits of sharing a stadium with the Rams in L.A., where visiting fans routinely take over the Chargers' "home" games.

In addition to spurning an entire community, the Spanos-led Bolts have routinely put a mediocre product on the field, despite having the services of players such as Phillip Rivers, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Antonio Gates for extended periods of time. That legacy of underachieving has now extended to a current Chargers core that includes Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen.

#3. Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins

Not only have the Miami Dolphins only made two playoff appearances during Stephen Ross' 14 years as the owner of the beloved franchise, but his tenure as the Chairman and Managing Partner of the 'Fins has been marked by controversy, questionable practices, and ineptitude of epic proportions.

Ross has reached a level of infamy among NFL owners for his sleazy tactics. An allegation from former Miami head coach Brian Flores - who overachieved with a pitiful Dolphins roster - that Ross offered him a bribe to tank games in 2019 in order to land a high draft pick, led to Flores filing a racial discrimination lawsuit against the league.

In an investigation stemming from that lawsuit, it was discovered that Ross had impermissible communications with both Tom Brady and Sean Payton, which led to a $1.5 million fine and six-month suspension for Ross, as well as the loss of a 2023 first-round draft pick for his team. Ross' poor decision-making and willingness to bend or even outright break the rules have led to legal ramifications for the NFL, while also putting the Dolphins at a competitive disadvantage on the field.


#2. Cal McNair, Houston Texans

Another bumbling buffoon that's running an NFL franchise simply thanks to his DNA, D. Cal McNair doesn't technically own the Houston Texans yet - his mother Janice McNair still owns the team - but Cal has been running the day-to-day of the organization since his father Bob McNair passed away in 2018. The results haven't been pretty.

While it's not fair to pin the incredibly disturbing off-field behavior of former franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson on McNair, we can safely lay the blame for numerous other bone-headed decisions at the feet of the 61-year-old Texans CEO, including giving former head coach Bill O'Brien free reign in what amounted to a dual-role as HC and GM.

Under McNair's watch, O'Brien made one of the worst trades in NFL history, sending franchise cornerstone DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for injury-riddled running back David Johnson and a second-round pick. It was just one of multiple egregious trades made by O'Brien who often spent numerous draft picks on veteran players, seemingly without care for Houston's future.

When McNair and the Texans finally did rid themselves of O'Brien, it kickstarted a coaching carousel on the sidelines, a power vacuum in the front office, and horrible play on the field. Houston has gone a combined 11-38-1 since 2020 and is set to have their fifth head coach in four years with DeMeco Ryans in 2023.


#1. Daniel Snyder, Washington Commanders

Daniel Snyder not only earns the top spot on this list of the NFL's worst current owners but there's a legitimate argument that he's one of the most awful sports franchise owners of all time. Thankfully for Washington fans, it appears as though his 23-year reign of terror at the helm of one of the NFL's most iconic teams is about to come to an end, as Snyder is reportedly close to selling the franchise, in a move that many speculate was a way for him to avoid being pushed out of the league altogether.

You name it and Snyder has done it, well, except if the "it" is winning. After buying the successful franchise from Jack Kent Cooke in 1999, Snyder proceeded to run the once-proud Washington club in the ground with a carousel of coaching changes, ill-fated free-agent signings, and curious draft picks that's led to just two playoff game wins since he purchased the team.

Snyder routinely made himself the target of fan hatred by coming up with ridiculous schemes that have included suing season-ticket holders, being the first NFL owner to charge an admission price to watch training camp practices, refusing to maintain one of the NFL's worst stadiums and playing surfaces, while literally, allowing fans to be doused by what was believed to be raw sewage. You can't make this stuff up.

While many of the billionaire's greed-driven schemes have rightfully drawn the ire of the Washington faithful, there's also been a more sinister side to his tenure at the helm of the organization.

Snyder fought for years to keep Washington's longtime nickname, which had been considered a cultural relic that was both offensive and hurtful to Native Americans. He has also been alleged to have created and participated in a toxic workplace culture within his organization, which has allegedly included sexual harassment of team cheerleaders and female employees who have worked for the franchise.

Numerous investigations into Snyder's alleged organizational financial and cultural misconduct led to an honest-to-goodness federal inquiry, as well as a $10 million fine from the NFL. The much-maligned Washington owner is reportedly actively searching for a buyer and accepting bids for the Commanders as of this writing. The only downside to the team's eventual sale is that the slimey Snyder will make billions in profit on his initial $800 million purchase of the franchise.

UPDATE: Snyder has reportedly finalized a deal to sell the Washington franchise to a group led by Josh Harris for $6.05 billion.

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