Female NFL owners: A ranked list of all women who own NFL teams

Female NFL owners: A ranked list of all women who own NFL teams

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:22 PM

Since its inception in the 1920s, the NFL has become one of the most-watched sports leagues in the US and worldwide. To reflect their fan base's changing demographics, professional football teams have increasingly hired and promoted women to key positions in their front offices and coaching staff, and some women are now NFL team owners in a space that has been long dominated by men. This article provides a quick overview of the history of female NFL owners.

First female NFL owner
Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk at halftime of a game between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts on September 15, 2019, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: Matthew Maxey
Source: Getty Images

The NFL's annual revenue is already in the billions, and the sport's popularity is expected to keep rising. The number of women involved in the NFL has contributed to its growing popularity and financial success.

How many female NFL owners are there? There are presently many female NFL owners by 2023: Virginia Halas McCaskey of the Chicago Bears, Gayle Benson of the New Orleans Saints, Amy Adams Strunk of the Tennessee Titans, and Sheila Firestone Ford Hamp of the Detroit Lions are among them.

List of female NFL team owners

12. Jody Allen

Female NFL owners
Portland Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen smiles while walking on the court before the game against the Indiana Pacers at Moda Center on December 04, 2022, in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Soobum
Source: Getty Images

She lives in the United States and is a successful businesswoman and philanthropist. She was born in 1959 in Wedgwood, Seattle, where she grew up and attended Lakeside School.

Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, has an identically named sister. Following her brother's death in October 2018, she took over as owner of the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL and the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA. In a statement, Allen, the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks, said,

"My long-term ambition is developing championship teams that our communities are proud of."

11. Sheila Ford Hamp

Female NFL owners 2023
Owner Sheila Ford Hamp of the Detroit Lions waves before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field on October 17, 2021, in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Rey Del Rio
Source: Getty Images

S. F. Ford, Sheila Firestone Hamp, a businessman, and football executive from the United States. In other words, she came into existence in 1951. The Detroit Lions of the National Football League is among the NFL teams with female owners, and it is owned by Sheila Ford, who also acts as the team's chairwoman. She comes from a long line of American industrialists, including the Fords and the Firestones (NFL).

Hamp earned a BA from Yale in 1973 and an MA in Early Childhood Education and Teaching from Boston University. As a student at Yale, she competed in collegiate tennis. She is on the Super Bowl and Major Events Committee for the National Football League. As the Lions' vice chair after her mother, Martha Firestone Ford's tenure ended on June 23, 2020, Hamp is now in charge.

10. Janice McNair

How many female NFL owners are there?
Janice McNair, principal owner of the Houston Texans, before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium on December 18, 2022, in Houston, Texas. Photo: Bob Levey
Source: Getty Images

After her husband, Bob McNair, passed away in 2018, Janice Suber McNair (born September 30, 1936) became the team's co-owner and co-founder. McNair was at his side throughout her husband's career, including when he formed Cogen Technologies and sold it to Enron and CalPERS in 1999. It was in 1999 that she and her husband established the Texans.

Since her husband's passing in 2018, McNair has served as the team's primary owner. Her son Cal now runs the franchise and handles day-to-day operations. But Janice is the one who speaks for the Texans at NFL owner meetings and other league events. She is among the wealthiest sports franchise owners and oldest female owners of NFL teams.

9. Gayle Benson

How many female NFL owners?
New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson comes onto the field before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 11, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Todd Kirkland
Source: Getty Images

American entrepreneur and sports franchise owner Gayle Benson is worth $2.8 billion. She was born in January of 1947 in the Big Easy. Gayle Benson is the former owner's wife of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans of the National Football League and the NBA, respectively.

After his passing in March of 2018, Gayle inherited both teams. Benson made history when she acquired controlling interests in a National Basketball Association and National Football League team, becoming the first person of any gender to do so.

8. Carol Davis

What NFL teams have female owners?
Oakland Raiders principal owner Al Davis and his wife Carol are seen cradling a trophy in Oakland, CA, on January 3, 1964. Photo: Chris Kjobech
Source: Getty Images

American businesswoman and sports franchise owner Carol Davis was born around 1930 or 1931. The National Football League's Las Vegas Raiders count her as a minority owner. Davis took over the Raiders after the death of her husband, the team's longtime owner Al Davis, on October 8, 2011.

In 1997, Al Davis mentioned the possibility of Carol taking over as Raiders owner if he could not. Davis is a New York City native and NYU graduate with a focus on marketing. In 1954, Carol and Al Davis tied the knot at a synagogue in Brooklyn.

7. Virginia Halas McCaskey

Female NFL football team owners
Virginia McCaskey speaks in-game action during an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and the Seattle Seahawks on September 17, 2018, at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Robin Alam
Source: Getty Images

She submitted Tom Flores' name to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021. She has been one of just three women to own an NFL franchise. Mrs. McCaskey entered the world on January 5, 1923; her father had helped start the Decatur Staleys and mold the NFL just three years prior.

She witnessed the Chicago Bears' 1932 NFL championship victory over the Portsmouth Spartans at Chicago Stadium, the first NFL game ever played inside. George Halas, McCaskey's father, started the team and coached them until he died in 1983.

After the passing of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson in 2014, she took his place as the NFL's longest-tenured owner. On January 21, 2007, McCaskey, whose father's name is on the National Football Conference championship trophy, accepted it. She called the day the Bears beat the Saints and advanced to Super Bowl XLI "her happiest day thus far."

6. Denise DeBartolo York

Are there any female owners of NFL teams?
San Francisco 49ers owner and co-chair Denise DeBartolo York on September 08, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Cliff Welch
Source: Getty Images

Currently, the San Francisco 49ers are owned primarily by Denise DeBartolo York. In 2000, she took over the team from her brother, Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., who had to sell because of a scandal. She played a vital role in the team's recent success, including their trip to Super Bowl XLVII.

5. Amy Adams Strunk

First female NFL owner
Owner Amy Adams Strunk of the Tennessee Titans on the field before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium on December 11, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: Wesley Hitt
Source: Getty Images

The late Houston Oilers' founder and owner, Bud Adams, had a daughter named Amy Adams Strunk. After her father passed away, she became the club's sole owner. Adams Strunk received his Bachelor of Arts in history from The University of Texas at Austin. First, she helped out with her dad's oil business, and now she's a part of the family business that owns sports teams.

Adams Strunk is a member of the National Football League's ownership group and has played a significant role in developing the sport in her native state of Tennessee. She was instrumental in getting the field built where the Titans play.

Strunk voted on their behalf as the Titans' owner in 2015. In 2016, Strunk was selected to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL's Hall of Fame committee. Adams was named 2019 Tennessean of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

4. Martha Firestone Ford

Female NFL owners
Detroit Lions Owner and Chairwoman Martha Firestone Ford on the field at Ford Field on September 29, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Rey Del Rio
Source: Getty Images

Martha was born on September 16, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her degree from Vassar in 1946. The majority owner of the Detroit Lions is Martha Firestone Ford. After her husband, William Clay Ford's death in 2014, she stepped in to lead the group.

She has been with the Lions for nearly six years and cares deeply about their success. She has led the Lions to make significant changes, such as employing a new head coach and general manager.

The group has also been involved with community groups on several different projects. Mrs. Ford has been a vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion and recognized for her efforts in this field by the NAACP. When she passed the Lions' ownership on to her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp on June 23, 2020, she resigned.

3. Dee Haslam

Female NFL owners 2023
Owner Dee Haslam of the Cleveland Browns answers questions from the media before a training camp practice on July 28, 2018, at the Cleveland Browns in Berea, Ohio. Photo: Nick Cammett
Source: Getty Images

Along with her husband, Jimmy Haslam, Dee is a co-owner of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. She was born on July 5, 1954. In addition to her work in the television industry, she is the co-founder and chief executive officer of RIVR Media, which focuses on reality shows.

On August 2, 2012, Dee and her husband decided to purchase the Cleveland Browns. On October 16, 2012, the sale was approved by a unanimous vote of NFL owners, and it was finalized on October 25. Dee is an NFL Women's Advisory Board member and an outspoken supporter of equal representation of women in executive positions.

2. Amy Trask

First female NFL owner
Amy Trask, the only female CEO in the NFL, watches as the Oakland Raiders start their camp at the Marriott Hotel on July 25, 2006, in Napa, California. Photo: David Paul Morris
Source: Getty Images

Former Oakland Raiders CEO turned CBS Sports college football commentator Amy Trask. She's only one of a small number of women to ever work for an NFL franchise in a top-level executive role. She was the first female NFL owner, the only woman ever to hold the position, and she worked for the Oakland Raiders from 1997 to 2013.

She stayed with the Raiders for 25 years and saw the team transform into a playoff contender. She had a reputation as a fierce negotiator and challenger of league authorities throughout her tenure as CEO. Former CEO Trask stepped down in 2013; however, he has stayed as a special advisor to the company. She was only the second woman ever to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when that happened in 2017.

1. Kim Pegula

First female NFL owner
Buffalo Bills owner Kim Pegula visits with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones before an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. Photo: Cooper Neill
Source: Getty Images

Kim S. Pegula was born on June 7, 1969. She and her American businessman husband, Terry Pegula, are co-owners of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. Pegula had an extraordinary upbringing because she was born in Seoul, South Korea. She came to the United States with her family when she was four. She graduated from Houghton College with a degree in communication. She is one of the most famous female NFL football team owners.

Kim Pegula is the Chief Executive Officer of Pegula Sports and Entertainment. That's why she's the new president of Pegula Sports & Entertainment, the conglomerate behind several major league franchises. Pegula made her mark in the sports marketing sector as one of the few non-Americans to own an NFL team when she purchased the Buffalo Sabers.

Female NFL owners have taken up a space where few women have before, paving the way for other powerful women in the NFL. Female participation in professional football is here to stay, as evidenced by the many women actively engaged in the sport at every level.

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Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.