Although team power rankings have become a weekly in-season NFL staple, the real-life juice is held by the folks who sign the paychecks. With the playoffs about to begin, FOX Sports senior NFL writer Alex Marvez offers up power rankings of the 12 NFL owners whose teams made the postseason.
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Dan Snyder, Redskins
From meddling with his coaches and personnel department to ardent insistence the franchise continue using a nickname some perceive as racist toward Native Americans, Snyder has become one of the NFL’s most reviled owners since purchasing the team in 1999. Snyder, though, could be on the way toward fielding the Super Bowl winner he has long sought with Washington back on the upswing spurred by a new starting quarterback (Kirk Cousins) and top football executive (Scot McCloughan) who played key roles in the 2015 Redskins winning the NFC East.
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Mike Brown, Bengals
Once criticized as being cheap and out of touch, Brown is now praised for his methodology in building a team as talented from top to bottom as any in the league heading into the 2015 postseason. The next step: Winning the franchise’s first playoff game since Brown succeeded his late father, Paul, in 1991.
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Bob McNair, Texans
The Houston Texans have yet to reach an AFC championship game since McNair’s expansion team began play in 2002. Critics would say McNair has shown too much patience with previous head coach/general manager regimes, but the Texans appear to have a bright future now under second-year head coach Bill O’Brien as they head into the playoffs as AFC South champions.
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Clark Hunt, Chiefs
Following the 2006 death of his father and American Football League principal founder Lamar Hunt, Clark Hunt (center) became the Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO. The Chiefs still haven’t won a playoff game on his watch – extending a streak that dates to 1993 – but the franchise is headed in the right direction under head coach Andy Reid (right) and general manager John Dorsey (left). Kansas City enters the playoffs with the league’s longest active winning streak at 10 games.
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Zygi Wilf, Vikings
Wilf wasted little time making his imprint when buying the Minnesota Vikings in 2005 by firing head coach Mike Tice almost immediately after the season finale. Although the Vikings still haven’t reached a Super Bowl since 1976, Wilf was able to accomplish something the two previous ownership groups couldn’t by striking an agreement with local and state officials to construct a new stadium that will keep the franchise in the Twin Cities for years to come. Wilf also approved the shrewd signing of ex-Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre for the 2009 and 2010 seasons that took Minnesota’s heated NFC North rivalry with the Packers to even greater heights.
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Michael Bidwill, Cardinals
The Bidwill family’s ownership produced only four playoff appearances in 45 seasons until Michael Bidwill became team president in 2007. Since then, Arizona has reached its first Super Bowl and is a serious contender for another berth this season with a 13-3 record heading into the playoffs. Bidwill deserves credit for changing the team’s frugal ways and building a prosperous organizational structure headed by general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians.
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Jerry Richardson, Panthers
Richardson truly built the Carolina Panthers from scratch when landing an expansion team that began play in 1995. The Panthers enjoyed only four playoff appearances in their first 18 seasons, but 2015 marked Carolina’s best year to date with a 15-1 record and unprecedented third consecutive NFC South title. It speaks well of Richardson and team president Danny Morrison that Dave Gettleman and Ron Rivera are strong contenders for NFL Executive and Head Coach of the Year honors.
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*Mark Murphy, Packers
The asterisk is there because Murphy isn’t the Green Bay’s owner per se with the Packers being the only publically owned franchise in the major pro sports leagues. Murphy, though, is the closest thing to an owner as president and CEO since 2007. The Packers have kept the same head coach (Mike McCarthy) and general manager (Ted Thompson) during that time and reached the playoffs in eight of nine seasons, including a win in Super Bowl 45.
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Paul Allen, Seahawks
Thanks to two strong head coach-general manager hires during his 20-year tenure (Mike Holmgren and the current Pete Carroll/John Schneider pairing), Allen is the rare example of an absentee owner whose team has flourished. The Seahawks won Super Bowl 48, reached Super Bowls 40 and 49, and are a contender once again entering the playoffs at 11-5. Allen also will always have a special place in the heart of Seahawks fans. The Microsoft co-founder purchased the franchise in 1996 to keep the Seahawks in Seattle.
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Pat Bowlen, Broncos
Since he purchased the franchise in 1984, the Broncos have the best overall winning percentage (.614) and second-highest number of Super Bowl appearances of any NFL team. John Elway (left) was involved in all six of those championship games, first as a player and then top football executive starting in 2011. Bowlen’s strong personal and professional relationship with Elway continues to pay dividends today with Denver (12-4) entering the postseason as the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed.
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The Rooney family, Steelers
With the success and stability the Steelers have enjoyed since 1969, it’s hard to believe this was one of the NFL’s most mediocre franchises for more than three decades under late team founder Art Rooney (pictured). The key to winning six Lombardi Trophies and playing in two more Super Bowls: Finding the right head coach and showing patience with them through lean times, which is a quality often lost in today’s NFL. Mike Tomlin (2007-present), Bill Cowher (1992-2006) and the late Chuck Noll (1969-91) are the only coaches in the past 46 years.
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Robert Kraft, Patriots
The way Kraft runs the New England Patriots should serve as a model for NFL owners who enter the league (but often doesn’t because of the egos of billionaires). Kraft is around the team on an almost daily basis – which keeps employees on their toes -- yet doesn’t meddle with the person he placed in charge of running it (Bill Belichick) after learning his lesson with Bill Parcells in the 1990s. Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady deserve much of the credit for New England winning four Super Bowls and becoming the league’s gold standard, but Kraft laid the groundwork for the Patriots hitting those heights with his approach.