The NFL is seeking owners’ approval to dramatically increase penalties for teams that don’t comply with league rules about ownership structures.
This debate comes as five longtime controlling owners have passed away in the last three years, in some cases generating difficult legal battles.
There is a growing concern that the NFL has insufficient power to enforce requirements that a single person have at least 30 percent equity and autonomy on all team matters.
“The drumbeat has been beating louder and louder, with several older owners looking to pass the torch,” a source familiar with the debate said. “And the league is hoping to clean it all up, and vest a lot of authority and control in the office of the commissioner to handle those estate issues and ensure smooth transitions.”
The Saints and Broncos have both struggled with family feuds in the wake of their respective longtime owners’ death, and the Titans were also out of compliance after Bud Adams died in 2013.
Three other teams have seen their controlling owner die since 2018: the Seahawks (Paul Allen), the Cardinals (Bill Bidwill) and the Texans (Bob McNair).
The NFL could be fined up to $5 million at first, and up to $10 million annually if they remain out of compliance.