Media mogul Byron Allen is preparing a bid to buy the Denver Broncos, according to reports. If the bid is successful it would make Allen the first Black majority owner of an NFL team. Allen says Roger Goodell and Robert Kraft told him 2019 to look into buying a team and it looks like he’ ready now.
“NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft came to me in November of 2019 and asked me to take a good look at buying an NFL team,” Allen, chairman and chief executive officer at Allen Media Group, said in a statement. And after serious consideration, I strongly believe I can help effectuate positive changes throughout the league. And for that reason, I will be making a bid for the Denver Broncos.”
Allen and his group will be competing with several groups including two led by Broncos’ Super Bowl winning quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning.
Whichever group emerges successful will be paying a hefty price for the franchise. Current projections have the franchise at a purchase price of $4 billion-plus, twice the $2.275 billion sum David Tepper paid for the Carolina Panthers in 2018.
The NFL is in need of a minority owner for a number of reasons, the bad press around its minority hiring practices being one of the biggest. If Allen’s bid is successful and he’s approved it would be a step in the right direction, but it won’t solve the league’s diversity and inclusion problem overnight.
Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the league’s poor track record on diversity and inclusion in his Super Bowl LVI press conference on Wednesday.
“We look at the same numbers,” Goodell said when asked about the number of franchises in the 102 year history of the league that haven’t had at least one Black head coach. “They are part of the effort in looking at how do we become more effective in our policies and procedures. We work really hard. We believe in diversity, we believe in it as a value…We just have to do a better job. We have to look is there another thing we can do to make sure we’re attracting that best talent and making our league inclusive.”
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) February 9, 2022
Allen will have to build consensus among his fellow owner peers, an “old boy network” if ever there was one. Having the backing of Goodell and one of the more influential owners in Kraft is a good start though, and something he can build off.
But we have a long way to go before we get there. The process of securing financing, vetting, and approval is not easy.
As a media titan, Allen’s company owns the Weather Channel and recently invested $1 billion in local television stations. He recently signed a multi-platform partnership with Google, and has bid for the regional television operator Tegna Inc. He is a champion for diversity and inclusion and has gone against the biggest television advertisers for discrimination against Black owned media outlets.
The Bowlen family led by the late Pat Bowlen purchased the Broncos in 1984. Pat was CEO of the Broncos until 2014 when he stepped down after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Bowlen died in 2019 and the team has been run by the Bowlen Trust, which includes team CEO Joe Ellis among two others: Vice President and General Counsel Rich Slivka and lawyer Mary Kelly.
Pat hoped that one of his children would take over and keep the franchise family run. None of the Bowlen children could come to an agreement, and after some in-fighting and court battles, the trust made the decision to put the team up for sale.
Denver billionaire Black entrepreneur Robert F. Smith, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Alec Gores also are going to be bidders.
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