Do NFL Owners Get Away With Murder?

NFL | February 5, 2021

The NFL is not immune to scandals with its players, and when an incident does happen, normally the hammer gets dropped on them.

From a year-long suspension to missing four games and being left out of the league altogether. Sometimes players like Josh Gordon and Randy Gregory have to be reinstated by the league before they can even work out with their team.

But what about the owners? They are charged with the most important job and that is to keep the franchise running smoothly, what happens when they are involved in a scandal? Does the league come down as hard on them as the players? The answer is no and why that is no one knows.

From the Robert Kraft sex scandal to Jerry Richardson’s sexual misconduct while he was in charge of the Carolina Panthers, it seems trouble seems to follow every NFL franchise. 

Jim Irsay DUI

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in 2014 faced four counts of possession of a controlled substance after he was stopped by police on the suspicion of being intoxicated while he was driving.

In a report that was released days later, it emerged that Irsay was battling a drug issue for a long time and was trying to overcome it. He was ultimately suspended by the NFL for six matches in 2014 as he pleaded guilty to the charges.

So Irsay did not get away unscathed from his little scandal as he was suspended and fine by the NFL. He is still the owner of the Colts to this day.

Jerry Richardson misconduct

Carolina Panthers founder Jerry Richardson was forced to sell the franchise in 2017 after a bombshell report came out on the same day he wanted to sell. It was reported that Richardson gave four Panthers employees money to settle after inappropriate comments and conduct by the owner and that included sexually suggestive language and behavior. 

Many Panthers employees stated that Richardson’s behavior was no secret and that it was treated by many as a joke. The NFL fined him $2.75 million for workplace misconduct.

The fact that Richardson had to sell his franchise proves that he did not get away with his misconduct and that he knew what he did was wrong. It just goes to show you that no matter who you are and how much money you have, everything can come crashing down in an instant.

Eddie DeBartolo Jr corruption case

Another example of an NFL owner paying for their mistake was the case of Eddie DeBartolo Jr. The San Francisco 49ers owner who won five Super Bowls, was suspended for the entire 1999 season after he pleaded guilty over a criminal charge with was revealed to be connected to a corruption case that involved a former Louisiana governor.

After his year-long suspension, DeBartolo stepped down as 49ers owner and has not been seen since in NFL circles.

Robert Kraft Prostitution sting

Then there is the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft. He was involved in a prostitution sting and was one of a dozen men who were arrested as a massage parlor. Kraft was charged with solicitation of prostitution after the police confirmed that had a video of him paying for a sexual act.

Kraft was charged with two counts for separate incidents and one of them allegedly happened on the morning of the Patriots AFC Championship matchup against the Chiefs. The incident made world headlines and it shook to NFL to its core.

Kraft is still the owner of the New England Patriots to this day and some say that he should have stepped down. It appears that Kraft has gotten away with quite a lot during his tenure as Patriots owner.

Stan Kroenke’s heartless act

Perhaps the most worrying of all scandals to rock the NFL was that of Stan Kroenke. A man by the name of Rich Ellis who lived in Texas, took his own life in 2016 after Kroenke bought around 520,000 acres of land in Wichita County in February of that year. The Rams owner then proceeded to send all residents of homes that were near a lake on the property that they had to be out of their homes by January 31, 2017, as they were being evicted.

Ellis’s wife, Annette revealed that he could not afford to move and that prompted him to take his own life. Ellis went missing on October 26 before police found his body two days later near a river. His suicide note read “Stan you took my home” in reference to the Rams owner.

Like Kraft, Kroenke is still owner of his NFL team and it is amazing that nothing more was done about this tragic ending of a mans life.

So are owners getting off lightly on their misdemeanors? Players get torched on news stations and social media. Most people can list three or four players that have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. 

So we have seen owners who have paid for this misdemeanors while others have been allowed to continue in their roles as owners of NFL franchises.

The question is, do NFL owners get away with murder? Depending on which side you are on, you already know the answer.

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Adam Schultz

Adam has authored hundreds of articles covering the NFL and football. Adam currently covers Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga as well as Arsenal in the English Premier League. Adam promotes his work with his social media channels Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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