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Tuesday, July 10, 2001
Updated: July 16, 7:12 PM ET
The List: Worst owners in sports

From the Page2 mailbag

OUR TOP 10
Here's how the Page 2 staff ranked the worst owners in sports:

1. Donald Sterling (Los Angeles Clippers)
2. Peter Angelos (Baltimore Orioles)
3. The Brown family (Cincinnati Bengals)
4. Art Modell (Baltimore Ravens)
5. The Bidwills (Arizona Cardinals)
6. Jeremy Jacobs (Boston Bruins)
7. Madison Square Garden (New York Rangers)
8. The Chicago Tribune Co. (Chicago Cubs)
9. Michael Heisley (Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies)
10. Jerry Reinsdorf (Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox)

Also receiving votes: Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Jeffrey Loria (Montreal Expos), Peter Karmanos (Carolina Hurricanes), Bill Wirtz (Chicago Blackhawks).

On Tuesday, Page 2 ran its list of the worst owners in sports. We asked for your take, and you filled our mailbag with plenty of disgruntled opinions about your favorite least favorites.

After going through close to 2,000 letters, we've listed a complete rundown of the Top 10 vote-getters, along with some of the best letters about each owner. Be sure to cast your vote in the poll at left to choose the worst current owner.


1. Jeremy Jacobs -- Boston Bruins (214 letters)
This Buffalo sheep in Boston clothing has destroyed Hockeytown, USA. How do you explain a team in the nation's sixth largest media market being in the bottom third payroll bracket? His bottom line explains it.

Now this bozo sees that attendance is slipping and what does he do? He signs Martin Lapointe to a ridiculous amount to appease the fans then Whamo! ... Bill Geurin or Jason Allison (or both) will be gone. But hey, they're one of the most profitable teams in the league, so who cares? Jacobs always spends just enough to tease us into believing we have a chance (a slight one at that), he fills the arena, milks fans with his concessions and deposits it all in Buffalo Savings and Loan.

The latest sign of the apocalypse is now this shark has put his name on the bidding list for our beloved Red Sox. Nothing would please me more than to be locked in a room with this wimp for a mere 30 seconds.
Nick Middleton
Boston

Twenty-eight years of penny pinching with the Bruins and what does Boston have to show for it? Cheering on Ray Bourque in a Colorado jersey and celebrating when he wins the Cup in Denver. That's what Jacobs has reduced us to.

Memo to Harry Sinden: Don't get mad at the Boston fans for cheering on Bourque, get mad at Jacobs for never committing to a winner. You reap what you sow, Harry....
Jeff
East Haddam, Conn.


2. Art Modell -- Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens (167 letters)
Art Modell
Art Modell ripped the Browns out of Cleveland and won a Super Bowl in Baltimore.
He ran a successful business into the ground and then penalized the fans and the city of Cleveland. His poor business management skills and inability to turn a profit in one of sports' most lucrative leagues exemplifies the futility that Cleveland fans lived with for the 35 years of his ownership.

The one championship that his teams earned was a result of the players and coaches drafted and hired by Paul Brown until his untimely dismissal in 1962 ... Thanks for the memories, Art, they were few enough for us to remember clearly.
Julian Mayer
Chatsworth, Calif.

I'm a born-and-raised Steelers fan, and therefore by nature I hate anything and everything about Cleveland ...

But when the news started to come out about the Browns leaving the "Mistake by the Lake," I think everyone in the 'Burgh felt for Cleveland. Though I can't stand the Browns' fans, I respect them. They're some of the most passionate fans around, and to have that jerk rip their team from their hands left an awful taste in everyone's mouths.
Matt Lynch
Uniontown, Pa.

I'm not even a Browns fan, but there is no question in my mind that the worst owner in sports is Art Modell. He pulled one of the most storied franchises in professional football from one of the most devoted cities in pro sports. The fans just loved the Browns ... yet Modell took them away ... still a mystery to me exactly why.

Yes, I'm well aware that his team in their new city has reached the pinnacle of the sport, but didn't it make you sick to see him put his hands on the Lombardi Trophy knowing full well that it shoulda been in Cleveland?
J.P.
Panama City, Fla.


3. Bill Wirtz -- Chicago Blackhawks (125 letters)
Being a lifetime Chicago resident it's tough to pick the worst owner in this city, let alone all of sports. With Jerry Reinsdorf, The Tribune Company, the McCaskeys ... but I'm voting for Bill Wirtz. His family has owned the 'Hawks for 47 years, and in that time they have not won the Cup, nor does it appear they will anytime soon.

In addition, he does not see fit to televise Hawks' home games, he's worried it will hurt attendance. What hurts attendance is his unwillingness to pay for good players.
Andrew Grossman
Chicago

Bill Wirtz has to be the Emperor Nero of professional sports.

His lack of sense and abundance of ego have turned the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the NHL's Original Six, into a team opponents mark on their calendars as "Rest Day."

Analysis: different coaches every year, no consistency in the net, offense that scores as often as Pee Wee Herman, defense that can't initiate a transition game, and a front office that refuses to spend on the free agents needed to change these trends (They can't trade. What could they offer? A puck bag?).

Wirtz's reaction: raise ticket prices to $75 a seat, black out all of the home games, and lobby the state assembly to pass a law guaranteeing your liquor distributorship permanent business at any price.

He probably won't make the list, since nobody cares about the Blackhawks, but that is just further evidence of the damage Wirtz has done.
Marty Klipp
Cedar Rapids, Iowa


4. Jerry Jones -- Dallas Cowboys (93 letters)
Jerry Jones
Despite other business successes, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has shown he can't multitask.
He is the worst owner because, in spite of his business savvy, he can't throttle his own lust for attention by hiring a GM.

The Cowboys have been one of America's premier franchises since shortly after their inception, but with J.J. controlling the roster for the past few years they have reached a new low. I cant foresee any change as long as J.J. continues as his own GM. It's going to be hard to be a fan of a team with absolutely no direction at all.

My suggestion would be to boycott the games at Texas Stadium, and all of the Cowboys' various sponsors and inform them of your decision. Obviously J.J.will not listen to reason, but maybe, just maybe, he will hear the silence of the turnstiles and dwindling sponsorships.
J.R. Baker
Wichita Falls, Texas

Jimmy Johnson built the Cowboys. The other J.J. destroyed them.
Paul Rehm
Vidalia, Ga.


5. Peter Angelos -- Baltimore Orioles (92 letters)
Peter Angelos is the worst owner in sports. The man has single-handedly kept baseball from being played ever again in the most important city in the free world, Washington, D.C., our nation's capital!

With the proceeds from the finest ballpark in the game (not to mention several juicy class-action lawsuits), this dorsal-finned, belly-scaled attorney and his sons have decided to play real-life fantasy baseball. Peter Angelos, Esq. is a selfish, self-absorbed, egomaniacal control freak who knows almost nothing about the game of baseball.
Mike H.
Bethesda, Md.

Peter has taken a team that was loaded and almost made the World Series in 1997 and driven them into the ground. They had great talent in the form of Ripken, Mussina, Erickson, Palmeiro, Anderson, Surhoff and Alomar, yet they consistently have one of the worst records in baseball.

He let a personal problem separate the team from the manager who got them to the playoffs, Davey Johnson. He has single-handedly torn down a once proud team and made them into perennial cellar dwellers.
K. Henderson
Jacksonville, Fla.


6. Jerry Reinsdorf -- Chicago Bulls (86 letters)
Jerry Reinsdorf
Jerry Reinsdorf hasn't endeared himself to Chicago fans.
This will be the last time Reinsdorf (or any one of his teams) win anything ever again. He is a foolish and greedy man who dismantled the greatest basketball dynasty ever assembled.

He did the same thing with the White Sox a few years back, but got lucky last year with his version of this year's Minnesota Twins. He builds teams to be great, rakes in the dough, then pulls the rug from under the fans feet and then still collects even more money.

I love to watch Sox games from my house ... it feels so good knowing that Jerry isn't getting my money.
Don Johnson
Joliet, Ill.

"Hmm ... let me kick Phil Jackson out of town so we can stop winning these darn titles and the greatest player ever can retire on my watch.

Then, let's trade away a proven 20 points and 10 rebounds a game so we can have two high-schoolers in the starting lineup and get our butts kicked by everyone for four years while they get up to speed."
Bryan
Hampton, Va.


7. Mike Brown and family-- Cincinnati Bengals, (69 letters)
This contest is too easy for Mike Brown! He is, by far, the worst owner in all of professional franchise history.

This guy is a genius at putting the worst available product on the field. It's so bad here in Cincinnati it's more humorous than frustrating now!

He's the town clown, and after the aura of a new stadium wears off nobody will be in the stands anymore! It's a shame because Bengals fans are pretty loyal. Its just hard to continue to be loyal when your ownership is completely apathetic to winning.
Dan Vaught
Cincinnati

Mike Brown -- where do you even begin?

That he extorted a new stadium for his XFL-wanna-be team? What a sweetheart deal he got. Or for the fact he won't pay for a real scouting operation? Or how about the fact he has control over the draft picks and the coach has no say? Or the fact since he got a sweetheart deal with the new stadium he won't fork it over to get good players (and now free agents are going elsewhere for lesser pay because they know Mike will go back to his old self next year). Or the fact he hasn't done anything for the season ticket holders who were promised seats in one area and got seats in areas that cost less than they paid for (and the Bungles and Hamilton County kept their money!)

Akili Smith? Even thinking of paying Carl Pickens the money he wanted for his no-talent performances? Not re-signing Jeff Blake. Thank God Paul Brown is already dead -- watching what his son did to his team would surely have killed him.
David Rice
Bowling Green, Ohio


8. Donald Sterling -- L.A. Clippers (56 letters)
The worst owner in sports is undoubtedly Donald Sterling.

The Clippers are a long-running joke (it's no coincidence their biggest fan is a comedian). When Sterling let Larry Brown go, he demonstrated he did not care about winning. Also, how could you put Elgin Baylor in charge of your draft with his track record? He was a great player, but as an executive he needs to be given the golden watch. Of course, the gold market would promptly collapse.

Anyway, Donald is your man.
Bill Anderson
Anchorage, Alaska

Apparently never heard the Vince Lombardi saying: Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. No one has ever let so much talent slip through their hands in the name of frugality.
Dan Lee
Huntington Beach, Calif.


9. Bill Bidwill and family -- Arizona Cardinals (54 letters)
Bill Bidwill
Bill Bidwill's Arizona Cardinals have been in constant turmoil.
Gotta be the Bidwills.

The Arizona Cardinals will never be a good championship contending team with Bidwell at the helm.

Think about it, the Cardinals finally make the playoffs in 1998 and actually survive the first round and the next season, the guys who took us to the playoffs are gone. Jamir Miller, Larry Centers, Lomas Brown were gone, and the Cards almost didn't sign Rob Moore. Now they lose Simeon Rice, who was sick of playing for the Cards, and Aeneas Williams.

Players just don't want to be on Bidwill's payroll because he is not a guy who wants to win, just make a little money here and there off the diminishing fan base. It's really sad that Bidwell has messed up this team so bad that the Cards usually play 16 road games a season as the teams they play at home usually draw more fans who root for the other team. And get rid of that damn bow tie.
Shane Miller
Mesa, Ariz.

Thank you for leaving the good people of St. Louis. Granted, they suffered for many years without a football team. But your "take the money and run" philosophy ended up screwing you in the process.

As far as I'm concerned, your team can now stink it up in the desert (or maybe L.A., or whoever is dumb enough to throw money at your feet). It's a good thing the NFL doesn't have homecoming games -- everyone would schedule you!
Derek Taylor
Orlando, Fla.


10. Daniel Snyder -- Washington Redskins (48 letters)
Daniel Snyder is one of the new breed of young owners in sports, but he is also one of the worst. From his attempts to field a Senior Division NFL team (which was vastly overpaid to boot), to his interference during the season, to his total lack of sportsmanship (see visitor bus parking), and finally, sticking it to the Redskins fans in every way possible (see admission prices for training camp) ... while all the while fielding some of the lousiest Redskin teams in recent memory.

As a Giants fan, I hope he keeps up the lousy work.
Mike Lares
New York

This little weasel signed All-Pro guys from the original Tecmo Bowl and assumed they would lead the Skins to the promise land. Not only did they miss the playoffs, he fires Norv Turner and hires Marty Schottenheimer who was in K.C. for years and couldn't win a ring there. The 'Skins are heading to a bowl are right ... the toilet bowl.
Scott Manson
Alexandria, Va.

In an amazingly short time, Washington's Daniel Snyder has wrestled the dubious title of "Worst NFL Owner" from Jerry Jones.

He has managed to alienate fans, make stupid decisions, and prove that having a big checkbook means nothing when it comes to recognizing talented football players.

Jack Kent Cooke must be twirling in his grave watching this fool decimate his team.
Jim Wilkeson
Lexington, Ky.


Your dishonorable mention: McCaskey family (Chicago Bears), Bill Giles, Dave Montgomery and co. (Philadelphia Phillies), George Shinn (Charlotte Hornets), Chris Cohan (Golden State Warriors), Carl Pohlad (Minnesota Twins), William Clay Ford (Detroit Lions), Bud Adams (Tennessee Titans), Peter Karmanos (Carolina Hurricanes), Mike Illitch (Detroit Tigers), Bob Irsay and family (Baltimore Colts), Paul Loria (Montreal Expos), Michael Heisley (Vancouver Grizzlies), and the conglomerate of all Chicago's owners.