Last week, Shahid Khan became the first minority owner of an NFL Football team in the league’s 90 year history when he purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars from Wayne Weaver. Although NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell has a long history of supporting diversity and inclusion in the league’s office this is the first time that a minority has held majority ownership in an NFL franchise.
In a league whose players are predominantly African-American, the NFL has been making small but encouraging signs of increasing diversity in the leadership positions. In 2011, the percentage of management positions for people of color in the League Office increased to 25.2 percent from 24.7 percent in 2010. At the start of the 2011 season there were 7 people of color as head coaches, an NFL record. Coincidentally, the Jaguars fired head coach Jack Del Rio, who is white, and named Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who is black, as interim head coach. The Rooney Rule, which requires people of color be interviewed as part of the head coach hiring process, helped triple the number of African-American head coaches from two in 2001 to six in 2005. Despite the strides in advancing diversity the NFL has made over the past few decades the makeup of the typical NFL owner (rich older white male) has not has not changed with as much acceleration as the rest of the league. Why is that you ask?
Well, for starters, it is very difficult to become an NFL owner. In addition to requiring massive wealth (it is estimated that Mr. Khan is paying $700 to $750 million to purchase the Jaguars) any sale must be approved by the league and the owners of the other NFL teams. It will be interesting to see how the other owners react to having a Pakistan-born businessman joining their ultra-exclusive club. If Mr. Khan’s proposed purchase is approved it may be a telling affirmation that in purchasing an NFL team it is the almighty dollar that is more important than the race of the owner.
In the NFL diversity is central to the league’s business initiative. The NFL correctly views fostering a more inclusive league culture as a gateway to strengthening NFL clubs and leading through innovation. The NFL has long been wanting to expand globally and the presence of a foreign born individual in the league’s highest ranks is undoubtedly a good thing.
- By: Ryan Moore
 In August 2009, Serena and Venus Williams purchased a small minority ownership of the Miami Dolphins, becoming the first African-American female owners in the NFL’s history. Gloria Estefan and Marc Anthony, of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent, respectively, also became part owners of the Dolphins in 2009.
 In 2010, African-American players represented 67 percent of all players.