A look at owners of NFL franchises reveals a highly politically charged group that contains only five organizations headed by those who have not chosen to donate to political campaigns. The owners of the Broncos, Bucs, Lions, Raiders, and Packers, which are owned by shareholders in the community, are the only holdouts in a league full of political donors.
Furthermore, this group has a strong Republican lean.
Led by Texans owner Bob McNair (pictured next to President George H.W. Bush), 16 of the 26 donors that seem to have a political leaning (Colts’ owner Jim Irsay gives evenly to both sides) are Republican backers. More importantly, 93.7% of all dollars given by the pool of owners was distributed to GOP candidates.
McNair, who gave millions to Romney PACs in an effort to defeat Obama in 2012, makes up 65.6% of donations on his own.
In addition to McNair, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, the brother of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have all contributed more than $200,000 to GOP campaigns since 2009.
The statistics, compiled by the Washington Examiner, also show that right-leaning owners are having a Super Bowl drought, with Saints’ owner Tom Benson the only GOP leaning owner to win the Lombardi Trophy since 2002.
Also, there does seem to be a relationship between the owners’ political preference and a players’ willingness to speak out. Conservatives like Philip Rivers (Chargers) and Nick Mangold (Jets) play for Republican owners while outspoken liberals like Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo, who are both out of the league, were willing to speak out when they played for liberal owners in Minnesota and Baltimore.
Still, this is not a hard and fast rule as players like retired center Matt Birk (formerly of the Ravens) and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson were willing to voice opinions contrary to those held by team owners.