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The owner every NFL team really deserves

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The Packers are in good hands, but the rest of the league could use a little help putting someone who really cares in the owner's suite.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Haslam was born and raised in Knoxville, has a brother who happens to be the sitting Governor of Tennessee, and is the CEO of the Volunteer State's most popular corporation for federal agents to raid. Haslam's connections to Cleveland are as follows:

- He wanted to buy an NFL team
- The Browns became available 
- So he bought them

Now, Browns fans are stuck with an owner who makes draft decisions based on the hunch of a homeless man and has to deny totally plausible rumors that he'd trade ownership rights in Cleveland in exchange for control of the Tennessee Titans. Hooray!

And it's not as if Jimmy Haslam is the one bad egg in a carton full of kind, civic-minded owners. At least he hasn't threatened to move the team to Los Angeles if he doesn't get a new stadium funded by taxpayers and municipal bonds. Yet.

Don't we deserve a league with owners who actually have a meaningful connections to each team's home city? Shouldn't we know that each team's management sees the franchise as an indelible part of a community and not a financial token or status symbol? Yes, some of the league's current owners seem to fit the bill well enough. I don't foresee the Mara family taking the team to San Antonio, for example. But why not wipe the slate completely clean and find a new, civically loyal owner for each franchise?* It's not like owning the Saints for 30 years has worked out great for Tom Benson.

*Green Bay gets to keep its current ownership structure, mostly because I don't want to deal with 360,000+ stockholders.

ARIZONA: Your new owner is Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight novels, current Maricopa County resident, and graduate of Chaparral High School. If Meyer can help make Taylor Lautner briefly famous, she can probably make Logan Thomas briefly good.

ATLANTA: Say hello to new Falcons CEO Jermaine Dupri, who's got over two decades of Atlanta business experience under his belt already running So So Def. So long as he promises not to give Usher the offensive coordinator job, this is totally going to work.

BALTIMORE: Public radio superstar Ira Glass hails from Charm City and is exactly the kind of serene, publicly respected owner the Ravens could really use.

BUFFALO: Wolf Blitzer attended high school and college in Buffalo and, yes, I very much DO want to see Rex Ryan dump an entire case of Genesee Cream Ale on him after the Bills win an AFC Wild Card game.

CAROLINA: Racing legend Richard Petty. Why? Because look at how amazing this hat would be, that's why.

CHICAGO: How many NFL teams are owned by a Nobel prize-winning physicist? Or a recipient of the National Medal of Science? What's that? None? Let's change that by giving the Bears to University of Chicago professor emeritus James Cronin.

CINCINNATI: Hometown musical pioneer Bootsy Collins is getting the Bengals. Imagine how fired up the Cincy defense will be when the home crowd starts chanting "WEEEE WANT THE PUNT" on third down!

CLEVELAND: Steve Harvey has won over potentially hostile crowds as a comedian. He has conquered the self-help book world. He successfully deals with panicked and possibly crazy people all the time as host of Family Feud. And he has a street named after him in Cleveland. You think he can't get the Browns back to the playoffs?

DALLAS: The main problem with the Cowboys is obvious -- Jerry Jones is too poor. So let's give the team to Dallas-born Melinda Gates and get some real money pumped into this franchise. (Obvious joke bonus: both Windows and the Cowboys were way better in 1995.)

DENVER: Missy Franklin, because we need more Olympic greats amongst our NFL ownership ranks.

DETROIT: Jim Harbaugh really seems so much happier at the University of Michigan than he was in San Francisco last year. Still, you have to think that fire to compete and win at football's highest level still burns within him. Wouldn't the Lions be the best of both worlds? Back in a place that feels like home, but getting a chance to dominate the NFL. It is an absolute certainty that he would also be the league's only owner-coach, and I am great with that.

HOUSTON: Being a responsible owner requires the patience to develop a franchise over an extended period of time and avoid expensive quick fixes. That's the same kind of patience it takes to shoot a movie over the course of 12 years, so you've proven you're ready to take the reins of your hometown Texans, Richard Linklater.

INDIANAPOLIS: I'm sorry but I had no choice.

JACKSONVILLE: Ideally, I'd pick Uncle Chaps for this role.

But he's clearly too busy changing the media landscape as we know it. So the Jaguars have to settle for new owner Chipper Jones.

(Checks Chipper's Twitter account)


KANSAS CITY: Though Netflix lacks Jeopardy!, it does have The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, in which Kansas City native Ellie Kemper plays a determined optimist who refuses to let years of trauma and pain drag her down.

Go Chiefs!


MINNESOTA: The Vikings are now owned by Prince. This is the easiest decision on this list and the one that will probably make fans the happiest.

NEW ENGLAND: Louis C.K. spent most of his childhood in and around Boston and would speak of Roger Goodell in shockingly awful terms at press conferences. Plus, Bill Belichick will appreciate his refusal to bullshit for the sake of social graces.

NEW ORLEANS: While I would like to offer the Saints to Birdman, he rumoredly owes the IRS about two million dollars in back taxes, and that makes me think he might not be the best financial steward for this franchise. So we'll give them to Mannie Fresh instead, who always struck me as the more responsible Big Tymer.

NEW YORK GIANTS: I'd like to yield the floor to the new owner of the Giants, beloved New Yorker Mike Francesa.

The team you've seen that's gone six games below .500 the last two season? That Giants team, from soup to nuts, I'll tell ya, is just terrible. Just terrible. If you know Giants history, you know how embarrassing that Giants team was. And I gotta figure you've seen enough of this clueless, brainless, organization that can't hold people ACCOUNTABLE. Now what?

Wait wait wait a second. In my thought process? Now what is we make this team a formidable team and a winning team and get back to delivering when the game is on the line. That's the job.

NEW YORK JETS: And now I'd like to yield the floor to the new owner of the Jets, Donald Trump.

Everyone knows that the Jets are a premium luxury football experience and very popular. Smart and good-looking people like the Jets, and the losers who don't root for us can't handle success and fame. And with my leadership, this team will not only win multiple Super Bowls but also some NBA titles and Grammys as well.

OAKLAND: There was a time when the Raiders were known for something other than being incredibly bad at football and owner haircuts. And we can return to that time if we give the team to Oakland's own Tom Hanks. Can you name a single person who actively dislikes Tom Hanks? No, and before long you'll be unable to name a single non-Broncos/Chiefs/Chargers/Niners fan who actively dislikes the Raiders.

PHILADELPHIA: The Eagles are now owned by Kobe Bryant, and oh man is he going to terrorize his players in the locker room after a loss.

PITTSBURGH: Apparently Jeff Goldblum hails from Pittsburgh, and even if he's not the best choice to own the Steelers, he's the choice I find most amusing to imagine taking questions about the team.

REPORTER: Mr. Goldblum, what does the team plan to address in the draft this year?

JEFF GOLDBLUM: Well, ah, ah, ah, we, ah, would ah...(touches finger to chin thoughtfully) would be...(draws slow circle in air with other hand) remiss if we did not, mmmm, as you might say, address the, ah, needs on the de-FENS-ive side of the ball. De-FENS-ive. (soft chuckle)

SAN DIEGO: NASA's Ellen Ochoa has spent over a month of mission time in space and is now director of the Johnson Space Center. She will be an invaluable asset to the league when it decides to play two games a year on the moon to "grow the game's reach."

SAN FRANCISCO: This list doesn't really have an enjoyable villain figure, the kind of owner who can be beloved by fans of his team and loathed by everyone else. Enter new 49ers owner Barry Bonds!

SEATTLE: I actually think Paul Allen's done a good job but that's not how this game works. So you're stuck with Walla Walla High graduate and 60s sexual icon Adam West, Seahawks fans.

ST. LOUIS: The Rams need someone who 1) has a deep personal connection to St. Louis, 2) understands what it takes to be a champion athlete, and 3) already moved from Missouri to California to further his career. Tennis legend Jimmy Connors fits all three requirements perfectly.

TAMPA BAY: It's actually pretty hard to find a famous person from Tampa who isn't a baseball player or a professional wrestler. Tony Little wasn't born there, but he's spent most of his professional career in Tampa and he definitely has the "insane Florida resident who might own a rhinoceros despite lacking the necessary permits or training" look down.

TENNESSEE: Amy Grant's not that busy these days.

WASHINGTON: The franchise that gets the biggest upgrade, at least in terms of public approval of the owner. Out goes widely reviled Dan Snyder, and in comes D.C.-born Bill Watterson. Change the mascot to the Washington Hobbeses and enjoy being America's Favorite Football team.

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