There are some who have tried very hard to buy into an NFL franchise and failed. Right now, there is one man who owns—or partly owns—two franchises. That would be David Tepper, as Pittsburgh Steelers majority owner Art Rooney II confirmed to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday afternoon during the third day of practice at training camp.
Tepper purchased a five-percent share of the Steelers’ franchise a little under a decade ago and has been a minority owner since then. Among the owners who purchased similar shares of the franchise at the same time—at a time that members of the Rooney family were selling due to new ownership regulations—are Jimmy Haslam, who went on to buy the Cleveland Browns, and John Stallworth.
Yeah, that John Stallworth.
Haslam had to sell his shares of the Steelers once he purchased the Browns several years ago, but Tepper has yet to do so for his stake in the team since his recent acquisition of the Carolina Panthers for a record amount exceeding $2 billion. Don’t worry, though. He’s worth over five times that amount.
“He didn’t sell his shares yet”, Rooney told Ed Bouchette. “They’re in a trust and for a temporary time he’s owner of two football teams. But we’ll handle that over the next several months. I’m not concerned about it. We’ll get it done. We’ve been through this before so I don’t expect any problems”.
Indeed, they have with Haslam. In fact, it’s quite odd for the team to have had not just one, but two minority owners go on to purchase franchises of their own. I can’t imagine many other teams can make that claim, if any can. Most new owners tend to be new to the market.
Part of the very reason that Tepper was such a desirable candidate to the other owners, and why his purchase was expedited for approval, is because he was vouched for by the Rooney family and the Steelers organization.
It might be worth reminding that Tepper is a Pittsburgh guy, who has talked about wanting to bring elements of the Steelers organization to the Panthers. The 60-year-old was born in Pittsburgh and educated at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, at the latter of which he donated $67 million for what is now known as the Tepper School of Business.
At least for the time being, he will retain some Pittsburgh roots in his five-percent ownership of the Steelers organization, but those shares will have to be sold in the coming months, and it is not clear who will pick them up.
It is entirely possible that Rooney himself or another current owner would absorb Tepper’s share, but another new minority owner could also be brought in from the outside.