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Friday, June 8, 2007
The Best: Owner

Editor's note: Our two-week series, "The Best," looks at the NFL's best in a number of key categories.

The Best: Owner

John Clayton: Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh
Under owner Dan Rooney, the Steelers aren't among the league leaders in team revenue. Though their stadium is relatively new, the Steelers can't get into bidding wars with other, more lucrative franchises. But Rooney is the game's best owner because he cares about the game. For more than three decades, Rooney has worked behind the scenes to mediate disputes with the union and owners in order to maintain labor peace. He's headed some of the league's most influential committees. More importantly, though, he runs the Steelers the right way. He treats employees right, which is why the Steelers rarely have much turnover in the front office and along the sideline.


• May 28: Player to start with | Vote
• May 29: Quarterback | Vote
• May 30: Coach | Vote
• May 31: Wide receiver | Vote
• June 1: Player you've never heard of | Quiz
• June 4: Defensive player | Vote
• June 5: Running back | Vote
• June 6: Leader
• June 7: Rookie | Vote
• June 8: Owner
Matt Mosley: Bob Kraft, New England
If you measure the best NFL owner by the standard of who's the best business man, I think Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is the clear winner. After buying the club in 1989, he quickly challenged the league's old-liners and made an incredible amount of money. In time, he's become one of the most respected voices in the game, but memories of those three Super Bowl titles in the 90s have begun to fade. That's why I think Patriots owner Robert Kraft should be considered the best owner in the league. Obviously he's a highly successful business man, but his best trait is that he still has the ability to think like a frustrated fan. In fact, that's what he was when he purchased the team. Kraft and his son, Jonathan, have created the model that franchises across the league are trying to emulate. It's interesting that they've been so aggressive this offseason because a lot of the Patriots' success has been based on not spending wildly on high-profile players. For now, though, memories of the Patriots' three Super Bowls are still fresh, and Kraft deserves the title of best owner.

Len Pasquarelli: Rooney
The late Jim Finks, a terrific football man whose administrative skills earned him a well-deserved niche in the Hall of Fame, once noted, and we're paraphrasing a bit here, that players play, coaches coach and general managers generally manage. Well, the best owners pretty much own, and that's why they're so good. They get out of the way and allow their football people to do their jobs. And, because of that quality, they have a lot of Super Bowl hardware sitting in their respective trophy cases. Some of the top owners in the NFL in my estimation: New England's Bob Kraft, Jerry Richardson of Carolina, Indianapolis' Jim Irsay, Philadelphia's Jeffrey Lurie and, while he doesn't exactly fit into Finks' description because he dabbles so much in the football end of things, Jerry Jones of Dallas. But oblige us, on the final installment of this "best of" series, a little Pittsburgh parochialism (and pride) here, please. Are we partial to the Rooney family? Damned straight. Dan Rooney exemplifies everything it means to be a great NFL owner, a man committed just as much to the health of the league as to that of his own franchise. Watch him at any league meeting, when he walks the halls and accommodates the media like no one else, and then ducks into a conference room to add the voice of reason to any debate. The man is simply the best, and the stability and unwavering principle he has lent to his team is the primary reason the Steelers are an NFL bedrock franchise.

Merril Hoge: Kraft
Consistency and the ability to trust those to whom you delegate decision-making authority are the hallmarks of great ownership and that's why Bob Kraft is my pick for best owner in the league. Over the years, the Patriots have consistently won because of the trust that Kraft puts in his staff. You never see Kraft meddling in the concerns of his staff even when the team might look to be down-and-out due to injuries or other concerns.