#WomenWednesday is a weekly series at M!KEDROPSPORTS meant to showcase powerful, influential, talented, and amazing women in sports. Today’s focus isn’t on just one, but 9 powerful and influential women.
There are 32 NFL teams, which means only 32 people can achieve their goal of being majority/principal owners of those teams. However, there are 9 women in primary ownership positions throughout the league. This is awesome, in an alpha-male sport, dominated by men, that women are so influential and, in some cases, heavily involved in team’s decisions making whether its on or off the field.
Let’s take a look at the NFL’s female owners.
Amy Adams Strunk, Tennessee Titans
Following the death of founding owner Bud Adams, his three children split the team three ways. But turmoil and controversy led to Strunk assuming sole ownership of the team in 2017. She is a part of the NFL’s Hall of Fame committee, and was also on the Board of Trustees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. She is credited with helping the city of Nashville host the 2019 NFL draft.
Martha Firestone Ford, Detroit Lions
The wife of William Clay Ford, who owned not only the Detroit Lions, but also Ford Motors Company. William passed away in 2014, leaving Martha as the principal owner and chairwoman of the Lions. Each of her four children hold small shares in the team.
Virginia Halas McCaskey, Chicago Bears
Virginia is the daughter of the legendary George Halas and wife of EdMcCaskey. Both of those last names are very popular around Chicago and have always been linked to the Bears. She has been the principal owner since 1983, which means she was the owner for the Bears only Super Bowl win, XX in 1985. She represented the Bears in 2007 by accepting the NFC Championship trophy in an on field ceremony after beating the Saints to advance to the Super Bowl.
Kim Pegula, Buffalo Bills
Pegula is the President of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, which is the holding company that manages the Bills as well as the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. She is one of only two people of non-European descent to own a franchise in the NFL (Shad Khan of the Jaguars is the other). She is part of the NFL’s Super Bowl and major event advisory committee and in 2018 officially became the first female team president in NFL history. Under her watch, the Bills ended their league high 17 year playoff drought in 2017.
Gayle Benson, New Orleans Saints
Gayle’s late husband, Tom, left both the Saints and NBA’s Pelicans franchises to her, making her the first woman to be the majority shareholder of the voting stock in a NFL and NBA franchise.
Carol Davis, Oakland Raiders
Carol’s late husband, Al Davis was a true NFL pioneer and trendsetter. He is also an NFL Hall of Famer and is fully responsible for making the Raiders into what they are today. The word “today” is being used loosely”. Carol’s son Mark runs the day-to-day football operations, making front office and player personnel decisions, leaving the business side to his mother.
Denise DeBartolo York, San Francisco 49ers
She is owner and co-chair of the 49ers, but her son Jed York was given full control of the football operations in 2008
Janice McNair, Houston Texans
Widow of the recently late Bob McNair is one of the founding owners of the Texans. She and her family have assumed control of the team, though it is likely her son, Cal, who is currently COO will take on the hands on day-to-day role
Dee Haslam, Cleveland Browns
Dee’s husband Jimmy runs the football operations for the Browns, but Dee is involved as a team owner, even if she isn’t involved specifically in football decisions.