Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ancien Regime

Tom Benson turns 87 years old today. Believe it or not this only makes him the third oldest current NFL franchise owner. And that's not the only way in which the league resembles a medieval society of competing but also interlocking and cooperating branches of  hereditary nobility.

This is from an article published a few months ago about the succession plan for Benson's empire of publicly subsidized sports franchises who play in state-owned facilities.  The plan is said to be a closely guarded secret but it is assumed that Benson's daughter and grandchildren would  receive his ownership stake. The NFL prefers this as a matter of policy.
The NFL prefers to keep teams within their controlling families after a majority owner has died.

That's not always the case. In Buffalo, the Bills will be owned by Wilson's estate because his wife, Mary, and two surviving daughters, Christy and Edith, have no interest in running the team.

But in most cases, teams are transferred within family ranks whenever possible.

For instance, McCaskey and her family have controlled 80 percent of the Bears since her father, George Halas, died in 1983.

In Tennessee, Adams' daughters Susie Smith and Amy Hunt, and the family of his deceased son, Kenneth Adams, each received a third of the Titans.

And in Pittsburgh, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell arranged for Dan Rooney to maintain controlling interest of the Steelers, which has been in the Rooney family since Art Rooney founded it in 1933. 

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