The National Football League is a multi-billion dollar business, and it’s getting bigger every day.
With each passing year, the NFL continues to grow in popularity and revenue, and women are playing an increasingly significant role in that growth.
Women have been involved with pro football since its earliest days. Besides coaching and managing teams, some of them have also owned teams themselves!
This blog post will give you a brief history of all female owners of NFL teams.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
All Female NFL Owners
All these female NFL owners have made a significant impact on their respective teams. And they all share a commitment to making the NFL a better league for everyone involved.
From their humble beginnings to their current successes, these ladies are making waves in a male-dominated industry.
Let’s take a look at them!
1. Kim Pegula
Kim S. Pegula was born on June 7, 1969. She is an American businesswoman who, along with her husband, Terry Pegula, owns the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League.
Pegula was born in Seoul, South Korea. She moved to the United States with her family at the age of four. She graduated from Houghton College with a degree in communications.
Kim Pegula is the President and CEO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment. She consequently holds the position of president of several other teams owned by Pegula Sports and Entertainment.
Pegula began her career in sports marketing with the Buffalo Sabre. She is one of the few NFL team owners who was not born in America.
2. Amy Trask
Amy Trask is the former CEO of the Oakland Raiders and is currently a college football analyst for CBS Sports. She is one of only a handful of women who have held an executive position with an NFL team.
She was born on April 21, 1961. Amy Trask got a degree of B.A. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1982.
Trask began her career with the Raiders in 1987 as in-house counsel. She was promoted to CEO in 1997, becoming the first woman to hold that position with an NFL team.
She spent 25 years with the Raiders, helping to turn the team into a perennial contender. During her time as CEO, she was known for her tough negotiating style and her willingness to take on league officials.
Trask stepped down as CEO in 2013 but remained involved with the team as a special advisor. In 2017, she was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming just the second woman to receive that honor.
Trask is a passionate advocate for gender equality in sports. She has also been critical of the league’s treatment of cheerleaders, calling it “demeaning” and “unfair.”
As a college football analyst, Trask provides insightful commentary on the game she loves. Her experience as a female executive in a male-dominated industry gives her a unique perspective that fans can appreciate.
3. Dee Haslam
Dee and her husband, Jimmy Haslam, are co-owners of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League.
She was born on July 5, 1954. She is also the co-founder and CEO of RIVR Media, a production company that specializes in unscripted programming.
Dee and her husband decided to buy the Cleveland Browns on August 2, 2012.
NFL owners unanimously approved the sale on October 16, 2012, and it closed on October 25.
Dee has been a vocal advocate for women in leadership roles and is a member of the NFL Women’s Advisory Board.
4. Martha Firestone Ford
Martha was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 16, 1925. In 1946, she graduated from Vassar College.
Martha Firestone Ford is the majority owner of the Detroit Lions. She took over the team after her husband, William Clay Ford, passed away in 2014.
She was part of the Lions organization for over six years and committed to making the team a winner.
Under her leadership, the Lions have made some key changes, including hiring a new head coach and general manager.
The team has also been active in the community, working with local organizations on various initiatives. Mrs. Ford is a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion, and she was honored by the NAACP for her work in this area.
On June 23, 2020, she resigned as the owner of the Lions, handing the position over to her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp.
5. Amy Adams Strunk
Amy Adams Strunk is the daughter of the late Bud Adams, who was the founder and owner of the Houston Oilers. She took over as the controlling owner of the team after her father’s death.
Adams Strunk is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and has a degree in history. She worked in her father’s oil business before joining the family’s sports ownership group.
Adams Strunk has been a part of the NFL ownership group and has been instrumental in helping to grow the game of football in her home state of Tennessee.
She was a driving force behind the construction of L.P. Field, which is now home to the Tennessee Titans.
During a 2015 league vote, Strunk represented the Titans as the team’s owner.
Strunk was appointed to the NFL’s Hall of Fame committee in 2016, as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees. The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame honored Adams with the title of Tennessean of the Year for 2019.
Strunk, who was born into great wealth, is also involved in her family’s other businesses, including Bud Adams Ranches, Inc., and is the president of Kenada FoxHounds, a fox-hunting organization, as well as the Little River Oil and Gas Company.
Adams Strunk is committed to growing the game of football and providing opportunities for women in all aspects of the sport.
She was recently named one of Forbes’ Most Powerful Women in Sports and is widely respected as a leader in the industry.
6. Denise DeBartolo York
Denise DeBartolo York is the current majority owner of the San Francisco 49ers. She took over control of the team in 2000 after her brother, Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., was forced to give up ownership due to his involvement in a gambling scandal.
Denise has been instrumental in the team’s recent success, including their appearance in Super Bowl XLVII.
7. Virginia Halas McCaskey
Virginia Halas McCaskey is the owner of the Chicago Bears. She has been an owner since 1984, making her one of three women to control a team in the NFL.
Mrs. McCaskey was born on January 5, 1923, less than three years after her father founded the Decatur Staleys and helped shape what would become the NFL.
She attended the NFL’s first indoor game in 1932 when the Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 at Chicago Stadium to win the league championship.
McCaskey’s father, George Halas, founded the franchise and coached them until he died in 1983.
She was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016 for her contributions as President Emeritus and Special Advisor to this day.
McCaskey is the Chicago Bears’ official secretary as well as a member of the team’s board of directors.
She also became the NFL’s longest-tenured owner in 2014 after the death of Ralph Wilson, owner of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
McCaskey accepted the NFC Championship trophy, which bears her father’s name, on January 21, 2007. She described it as “her happiest day so far” after the Bears defeated the New Orleans Saints to advance to Super Bowl XLI.
8. Carol Davis
Carol Davis, born in 1930 or 1931, is a businesswoman and sports franchise owner from the United States. She is a minority owner of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
Davis is the widow of longtime Raiders owner Al Davis, who died on October 8, 2011, and inherited the team.
In 1997, Al Davis suggested that Carol would take over as Raiders owner if he became unable to do so.
Davis grew up in New York City and earned a marketing degree from New York University. Carol and Al Davis married in 1954 in a Brooklyn synagogue.
Davis has a son named Mark (born in 1955).
Following the death of her husband in October 2011, Raiders CEO Amy Trask stated that the team “will remain in the Davis family.”
Davis continued to attend games and was on hand for the groundbreaking of Allegiant Stadium in 2017.
Davis lit the Al Davis memorial torch prior to the Raiders’ first game at Allegiant Stadium on September 21, 2020. She presented Tom Flores for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.
9. Gayle Benson
Gayle Benson is a $2.8 billion-dollar-worth American businesswoman and sports franchise owner.
She was born in January 1947 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Gayle Benson is the widow of Tom Benson, the former owner of the New Orleans Saints of the NFL and the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA.
Gayle inherited both teams after his death in March 2018. Benson became the first woman to own a majority stake in both an NBA and an NFL franchise.
10. Janice McNair
Janice Suber McNair (born September 30, 1936) is the current co-owner and co-founder of the Houston Texans, a position she took after her husband, Bob McNair, died in 2018.
McNair was her husband’s right-hand for much of his career, including when he founded Cogen Technologies, which was sold to Enron and CalPERS in 1999. She and her husband co-founded the Texans in 1999.
McNair became the team’s principal owner after her husband died in 2018.
Cal, her son, is the franchise’s current CEO and day-to-day manager.
Janice, on the other hand, represents the Texans at NFL owners’ meetings and other league functions.
She is also one of the the richest female sports owner in the United States at the moment.
11. Sheila Ford Hamp
Sheila Firestone Ford Hamp is a businesswoman and football executive from the United States. She was born in the year 1951.
Sheila Ford is the principal owner and chairwoman of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. She is a descendant of both the Ford and Firestone families (NFL).
Hamp holds an M.A. in teaching and early childhood education from Boston University and graduated from Yale University in 1973, where she participated in the varsity tennis program.
She is a member of the Super Bowl and Major Events Committee of the National Football League.
On June 23, 2020, Hamp succeeded her mother, Martha Firestone Ford as vice chairwoman of the Lions, a position she had held since 2014.
12. Jody Allen
Jody Allen is an American businesswoman, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. She was born on February 3, 1959. She grew up in the Seattle neighborhood of Wedgwood and graduated from Lakeside School in 1975.
Allen is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s sister.
Following the death of her brother in October 2018, she took over the ownership of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers.
As the head of the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks, Allen said in a statement, “My long-term focus is building championship teams that our communities are proud of.”
The NFL has come a long way since its inception in the 1920s, and now it’s one of the most popular sports leagues in America.
It’s fitting that as fans have become more diverse over time—women are now an integral part of professional football teams’ front offices and coaching staff—the owners of these franchises have followed suit.
There are currently four female NFL owners: Sheila Firestone Ford Hamp of the Detroit Lions, Amy Adams Strunk of the Tennessee Titans, Virginia Halas McCaskey of the Chicago Bears, and Gayle Benson of the New Orleans Saints.
While this is a small number compared to the overall league ownership, it is still significant progress.
These women have all broken through barriers in a male-dominated industry and are helping to pave the way for future female leaders in the NFL.
With so many women involved in some capacity at every level of professional football, it’s clear that female involvement is here to stay!