On Monday, the Denver Broncos announced the addition of former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the team’s new ownership group.
Rice is the second black woman to join the group, which is largely made up of members of the Walton and Penner families, who made their fortunes largely through stakes in Walmart. The partnership already included Melody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and chairman of Starbucks Corporation.
The group reached a tentative agreement in June to buy the Broncos for a record $4.65 billion, more than double the previous NFL franchise record. The acquisition is expected to be approved before the start of the 2022 regular season.
The league denied the claim.
The NFL has instituted a number of measures to increase diversity at the top positions, including establishing a six-member diversity advisory committee in March to revise its policy and expanding the Rooney Rule, a league guideline to increase the number of interviews for diverse candidates. Head coaches and senior positions such as general manager and team president.
Jason Wright became the first black team president when he was hired by the Washington Chiefs in 2020. Last week, the Las Vegas Raiders hired Sandra Douglas Morgan as team president, the first black woman to hold the position.
But increasing diversity among the league’s owners, who are overwhelmingly white, has been more difficult because teams rarely change hands and their high prices limit potential buyers. In February, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he hoped the Broncos’ new ownership would include a person of color. At its annual meeting in March, the league’s owners said prospective ownership groups would be considered favorably if they included “diverse individuals who will have a significant stake and involvement in the club, including in the role of controlling owner of the club.” “
Hobson and Rice are the first two black women to own part of the team, although no black man or woman has ever been the team’s principal owner. There are only two people of color who own majority shares in NFL teams – Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who is Pakistani-American, and Kim Pegula, the Korean-American co-owner of the Buffalo Bills.
Several other NFL teams are owned primarily by women, but in all of those cases their ownership stakes were acquired through inheritance or marriage.