NFL Offers Up First NFL Owner Diversity Report

Front Office Sports

March 28, 2023

PHOENIX – The NFL’s first owner diversity report was presented to owners at Monday’s annual league meeting.

NFL VP and Chief Administrative Officer Dasha Smith said the report showed that 8% of principal owners and limited partners were people of color, and 38% were women. 

As the Washington Commanders sale process slogs forward, none of those seen as serious contenders are from a diverse background — and there appears to be no easy way to change the racial and ethnic makeup of controlling ownership around the NFL. 

The focus, for now, is on diversifying co-owners among clubs.

“That is something that they can be intentional about if they so choose,” Smith told Front Office Sports. “We’re constantly looking at it and talking about it with ownership.”

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who is of Pakistan descent, is the only non-white controlling owner in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills are co-owned by Kim Pegula, who is Korean American. 

After Walmart heir Rob Walton was announced as the winning bidder of the Denver Broncos last year, the team filled out what would become the most diverse ownership group in the NFL. 

Starbucks CEO Mellody Hobson, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton — all Black — are limited partners of the Broncos. 

Teams don’t go for sale often, which could significantly change the racial and ethnic makeup of controlling ownership, a decades-long process. 

Focus on Youth Cardiac Deaths

Nearly three months after the quick actions of responders saved the life of Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin after he collapsed during a game, the NFL announced the creation of The Smart Heart Sports Coalition. The initiative is aimed at preventing sudden cardiac death among high school athletes. 

The coalition will seek to implement a three-prong best practices nationwide that includes an emergency action plan, making automated external defibrillators (AEDs) available at venues than be used within three minutes, and CPR/AED training for coaches. 

Only seven states have legislation that includes all three of those currently, and 12 states have no policies on cardiac death for high school athletes in place, according to the NFL. 

Much like the league did a decade ago, the NFL led a state-by-state effort to implement return-to-play policies for concussions. The effort was named after Zackery Lystedt, who sustained a life-altering brain injury after he was allowed to re-enter a middle school football game after he suffered a concussion.

“We got all the states pass laws that govern concussions among youth athletes,”  NFL Executive VP Jeff Miller said. “It is a lot of the same model. And why not replicate success? We were able to raise attention to the importance of treating concussions among youth athletes, specifically to remove players from play should there be any concern about a concussion.”

Beyond the NFL, The Smart Heart Sports Coalition includes the Damar Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, NCAA, the American Heart Association, Korey Stringer Institute, American Red Cross, and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Super Bowl LX, NFL Draft Decisions

Las Vegas and New Orleans will host the next two Super Bowls. The next two NFL Drafts will be in Kansas City in May, followed by Detroit in 2024. 

NFL’s executive VP of club business, international, & league events, Peter O’Reilly, said there’d be no decisions from these meetings. Still, locations will continue to be discussed with the hopes that a decision will be made for those future events at the next owners’ meeting in May.

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