It's tough to match the cartoonish super-villainry of everything that Donald Sterling has been accused of doing over the past 30 years of his life, but some NFL owners are at least trying.
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's company, Pilot Flying J is a national gasoline retailer under federal investigation for stealing millions of dollars from their customers. Ten managers, supervisors, and executives have already pled guilty. Here's how it worked:
Donald Sterling Fallout
Donald Sterling Fallout
Pilot had a sales team whose mission was to sell gasoline to owners of trucking companies in exchange for repeat business. Sometimes these owners would have dozens of truckers working for them, but other times it was a solo owner/operator. The Pilot Flying J salesperson would offer a rebate plan to the owner in exchange for purchasing a set amount of gasoline. For example, if an owner agreed to purchase $100,000 worth of gas in one calendar year, then Pilot Flying J would agree to issue a rebate for $10,000, reducing their effective cost by 10%.
Unfortunately, the sales department at Flying J was filled with and supervised by assholes who would regularly shortchange their own clients when it came time for the rebates to be issued, thinking that these small-timers wouldn't think to look at their own fuel consumption records or calculate the correct amount of their rebate.
The company is accused of ripping off as many as 6,000 customers.
From the affidavit:
"The rebate fraud has occurred with the knowledge of Pilot's current President Mark Hazelwood and Pilot's Chief Executive Officer James A. 'Jimmy' Haslam III, due to the fact that the rebate fraud-related activities have been discussed during sales meetings in Knoxville, Tenn., in which Hazelwood and Haslam have been present.''
Former L.A. Clipper's owner Don Sterling's greatest crime wasn't preventing his girlfriend from having her picture taken with black people; it was all the shit he did before that, which Bomani Jones explained better than I can. Sterling contributed to the systematic suppression of minority families for years. What Haslam's company did wasn't racially based, but it was still terrible. His company stole millions of dollars, not from billionaires, or insurance companies and bankers, but from middle class people working to support their families. That's really, really disgusting in its own right. Not only did they openly steal from their customers, but they were flagrant about it, internally admitting that their customers were too stupid to understand their own profit and loss statements.
The NFL has clauses to deal with ownership like this, but Roger Goodell is mindful of who pays his $44.5 million salary. It's much easier to fine a guy like Brandon Browner who tested positive for marijuana when he wasn't even playing in the NFL than it is to go after an owner whose company has stolen millions of dollars from his own customers, so don't expect the Rog to do anything about this soon, at least until there's a conviction.
Other not-so-nice NFL owners ...
Dan Snyder, Redskins
Sues grandparents for trying to cancel season tickets and local newspaper writers for hurting his feelings. The whole name thing, but especially his ham-fisted war against the windmills to convince everyone that the term "Redskin" (which was given by a segregationist owner to honor a coach who assumed the identity of a Native American to get him out of the draft for WWI) isn't a racist term.
Zygi Wilf, Vikings
Found liable in New Jersey of fraud and racketeering, among other things, in a civil suit brought by a former business partner. Yes, racketeering. The judge accused Wilf of "bad faith and evil motive" in his testimony.
Jerry Richardson, Panthers
Bilking Charlotte's taxpayers for millions of dollars for renovations to his stadium and threatening to leave town if he doesn't get his way. Claiming that the Panthers don't make very much money and refusing to open his books. Someone leaked them to Deadspin anyway, revealing a very profitable 2011 and 2012. See also: tattoos.