Unfiltered

Ten biggest blowhard, big-mouthed owners in sports

Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys - Blowhard extraordinaire.
Michael Dixon
Written by Michael Dixon

In sports, players come and go. The same is true with coaches. The owners, though, they stay for the long haul.

As such, some of the biggest blowhards in sports history are owners. The current group is no different.

Of the current group of owners, who are the biggest blowhards?

Which Dallas owners crack the list? What about the Bay Area? Which current champions crack the list?

What current owners are the biggest blowhards in sports?

1. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks

Mark Cuban

Since Cuban took over, the Mavericks have enjoyed unquestioned success. We have to credit Cuban for that. The problem is that Cuban is also a shameless self promoter. If this was a matter of promoting his team, we’d be okay with it. But consistently promoting yourself for the better part of two decades? We have to call you out on that.

Cuban’s most common frustration has been geared towards the NBA’s officials. For the record, Dallas has lost games and even playoff series that had nothing to do with poor officiating. A few Mavericks wins have also been aided by poor officiating. You just wouldn’t know any of that by listening to Cuban, who seems to believe that the referees are in place just to hurt him and his teams.

But even without complaining about officiating, Cuban has compiled quite the blowhard resume for himself. He clearly does not think that Russell Westbrook is a superstar. But how would Cuban react if someone made even a joke at Dirk Nowitzki’s expense? Not well, and we know this for a fact. Cuban no only threw a tantrum regarding a fairly innocent Nowitzki joke, but essentially bragged about it.

Following one playoff game against the Denver Nuggets, Cuban yelled at Kenyon Martin’s mother, calling her son a “thug.” That kind of behavior is unacceptable for anyone at a sporting event. For an owner in his 50’s? It’s beyond unacceptable.

Cuban is not only one of the NBA’s most annoying personalities, but he’s arguably the biggest blowhard owner in any sport. He’s worked hard to earn the title.

2. Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins

Dan Snyder isn't interested in trading Kirk Cousins to a member of the Shanahan family tree, according to a report.

If this offseason was the first time that Snyder came into the spotlight, he’d still make this list from room to spare.

He reportedly did not want to trade Kirk Cousins to the 49ers. Did he want to buy an extra year to talk Cousins into a long term deal? Was he worried about trading Cousins to another NFC team. Was San Francisco not offering enough. No, no, and no. Snyder reportedly didn’t want to send Cousins to the 49ers out of pure spite for Kyle Shanahan.

On a more serious note, the Redskins fired general manager Scot McCloughan right as free agency was starting. McCloughlan had struggled with alcoholism in the past and had reportedly suffered relapses. Firing him for that is harsh, but potentially necessary. The problem is that reports came out that the Washington front office was jealous of McCloughlan and used the relapses as an excuse.

Of course, Snyder didn’t become the Redskins’ owner in 2017. His first year in the NFL was 1999, the same year the Cleveland Browns re-entered the league. In that time, the notoriously unstable Browns have had nine head coaches. Washington has had eight.

But Cleveland has had three different majority owners and two different majority ownership groups. Snyder, meanwhile, has been the Redskins’ one and only head honcho. So, the instability in Washington falls on his lap.

Snyder has been embroiled in another controversy for a long time, and to be fair, whoever owns the Redskins will suffer through this one. The team has a controversial name. The name controversy isn’t as easy as saying anyone who wants to change it is a P.C. snowflake, or that anyone who wants to keep it is an insensitive bigot.

Make no mistake, this is not a plea for Snyder to drop the team name. But it took more than a decade for him to publicly show any real sensitivity to the other side of an undeniably complicated argument. That’s hard to digest.

All things considered, calling Snyder is a blowhard is being kind. But no need to thank us, Dan. Pay it forward.

3. Jed York, San Francisco 49ers

York is a walking contradiction.

In 2014, the 7-4 49ers lost a big game to the then rival Seattle Seahawks. York took to Twitter to apologize for the effort.

Over the following two years, York scarcely made any public comments as his team amassed a 7-25 record. So, when his team was an underachieving playoff contender, he couldn’t stay out of the public eye. When it was one of the worst in the league, Navy SEALs couldn’t find the rock he was living under.

When the decision to move on from Jim Harbaugh became official following the 2014 season, York demanded that he be held accountable. Two years later, as York was firing his third coach in three seasons, he made it clear that “you don’t dismiss owners.” Drawing a logical line, a man effectively saying “You’re stuck with me, deal with it” does not want to be held accountable.

We can’t only look at that, though.

York compared the decision to replace the successful Jim Harbaugh with Jim Tomsula to the then recently crowned NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, who had replaced Mark Jackson with Steve Kerr the season before (which you can read here).

In a way, York admitted the mistake by firing the overmatched Tomsula after one dismal year. But in that press conference, he still found time to take a dig at Harbaugh.

York has proven himself to be a walking contradiction, a hypocrite, and a blowhard. It’s really an impressive trifecta for an owner still years short of his 40th birthday.

4. Joe Lacob, Golden State Warriors

Courtesy of Kelly L. Cox, USA Today Sports

Lacob is a little different than most other owners on this list. Like Cuban and Jones, his team became significantly more successful when he took over. Unlike those guys, though, Lacob doesn’t have a long track record as an owner or a blowhard.

He does have one rather notable incident, though, that can’t go ignored.

Late in the Warriors’ 73-9 season, Lacob announced that his team was “light years” ahead of the rest of the NBA, which you can read here.

Have the Warriors been successful under Lacob and business partner Peter Guber? Absolutely. Light years, though? The Warriors did win the NBA Championship in 2015 and broke the single season wins record in 2016, but light years is still a stretch.

Including 2017, San Antonio Spurs have made the playoffs in each of the last 20 years. In all but one of those years, they won 50 or more games. The lone exception was a lockout-shortened, 50-game season that ended in an NBA Championship. In that 20-year run, the Spurs have won five titles, narrowly lost another, and qualified for two additional Conference Finals.

Golden State is in a five-year run playoff that, at the end of the 2017 season, will feature at best two NBA Championships, three Western Conference Championships, and no additional trips to the Conference Finals. It’s a great run, but it’s not light years ahead of the rest of the league.

When the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead to lose the 2016 NBA Finals, a certain joy was felt in different pockets of the NBA. Lacob’s comments coming back to bite him certainly contributed to that.

5. Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers

Dan Gilbert

We go from the owner whose team blew a 3-1 lead, to the owner whose team overcame that deficit.

Generally speaking, teams with LeBron James on them don’t get the “sentimental favorite” label. But given that no Cleveland team had won a championship since 1964, the Cavs became something of a Cinderella story during the 2015 and 2016 NBA Finals. The problem? People like cheering for Cinderellas, and Gilbert is just so darn hard to cheer for.

Most of the controversy around Gilbert came from two letters he wrote.

One came shortly after James joined the Miami Heat in 2010. Gilbert said a lot in the letter, but most notably he made a championship boast that didn’t quite pan out.

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE,” Gilbert said (H/T ESPN), adding “You can take it to the bank.”

Of course, “The King” won two championships in Miami, but Gilbert left the letter up until LeBron rejoined the Cavs in 2014.

The other letter (via Yahoo Sports) came shortly after Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, before the deal was vetoed. In the letter, Gilbert complained about the plight of small market teams, “When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?”

Not even three years later, Gilbert’s team signed LeBron James and traded for Kevin Love. Apparently, teams front loading only bothers Gilbert when his team can’t do it.

In 2010, Gilbert wrote a controversial letter, but at least looked principled. In 2017, he looks like a hypocritical blowhard.

6. James Dolan, New York Knicks & New York Rangers

James Dolan

Most of Dolan’s recent publicity came from a February incident where he had Knicks’ legend Charles Oakley removed from Madison Square Garden. The fallout had Adam Silver and Michael Jordan trying to mend the relationship, and even sparked a solid troll move from the aforementioned Gilbert.

Fans do not like having their nostalgia messed up. So, when they see a franchise legend mistreated, they get angry. Even if Dolan was right to remove Oakley from the Garden, the owner went way over the top.

Something else fans don’t like is being insulted themselves. But two years prior to his incident with Oakley, Dolan did that, too. It wasn’t a spur of the moment issue, either. No, a long-time fan wrote Dolan to voice his displeasure with the franchise. With a seemingly cool hand, Dolan responded, telling the fan (per Stephen Rex Brown, NY Daily News) to “start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks dont want you.”

Like Oakley, he also accused the fan of being an alcoholic. That’s a serious matter and one that Dolan, an admitted alcoholic, should not throw around so casually.

Again, blowhard might be a little on the nice side.

7. Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts

While he’s not quite on par with Mark Cuban as a spotlight hog, Irsay is the NFL’s answer to him in a few ways.

When the Colts lost to the Patriots in consecutive playoffs, Irsay and general manager Bill Polian complained to the NFL, looking for rule changes to make New England’s physical defense illegal.

A decade later, Indianapolis lost another AFC Championship Game to the Patriots. Then, Ryan Grigson (no doubt, led by Irsay) led the charge that started Deflategate. The Colts’ front office was so convinced its team got cheated that it completely ignored the many holes on its roster that offseason.

In 2013, Irsay expressed regret about the Peyton Manning era, saying that it was a “disappointment” that the team won only a single Super Bowl with Manning at the helm.

Admittedly, when Manning’s Colts teams only won a single Super Bowl, it seemed like a disappointment. But there’s another way to look at this.

A team owned by Jim Irsay won a Super Bowl. For more than a decade, Irsay looked like a competent NFL owner. That’s not a “disappointment.” That’s a minor miracle.

8. Vivek Ranadive, Sacramento Kings

Courtesy of USA Today Sports: For the Kings, owner Vivek Ranadive seems to be the biggest problem.

In May of 2013, Kings fans in Sacramento had their prayers answered. Ranadive was buying the team, saving it from a move to Seattle, Southern California, or anyplace else. The Kings were staying in Sacramento.

One of the first things Ranadive did was fire coach Keith Smart. That was justifiable. Most owners want to bring their own guys in. Smart’s 48-93 record in Sacramento didn’t justify breaking that norm. However, Ranadive is now on his fourth coach since firing Smart. The man hasn’t even owned the team for four full years.

Even Dan Snyder would question that logic.

At one point ahead of the 2014-15 season, Ranadive reportedly suggested that Sacramento’s D-League team play 4-on-5 defense to cherry pick on offense.

Despite a complete lack of success, Ranadive seems to think he’s got things figured out. He believes that Buddy Hield could be the next Stephen Curry. That’s an opinion that most people, including Hield himself, disagree with.

Like York, we almost have to admire Ranadive for his efficiency when it comes to being a blowhard. He drove right in to the deep end of this pool. But while York oversaw a genuine championship contender for three years, Ranadive has yet to enjoy a winning record as an owner.

9. Jeffrey Loria, Miami Marlins

In 2013, Ira Boudway of Bloomberg wrote a piece calling Loria “The most hated man in baseball.” Why had Loria earned such scorn?

Perhaps because he strong-armed Miami’s taxpayers into funding a stadium for him. In 2005, Loria said (per Murray Chass, The New York Times) that he was “done losing money until there’s a commitment from others.” In other words, “until you pay for a stadium, get used to bargain basement baseball players.” Eventually, it worked. In 2012, brand new Marlins Park opened. Loria even seemed committed to holding up his end of the bargain, bringing in high-priced talent for the season.

After an admittedly disappointing season, most of the high-priced talent was gone. One man who stayed was a then young superstar named Giancarlo Stanton, who was not happy.

Loria’s promise was a complete lie perpetrated against the Marlins fans and apparently, players, as well.

While the 2012 plan didn’t work, 2013-2016 weren’t exactly success stories either. Miami failed to win more than 79 games in any of those seasons and averaged a 72-90 record.

Fortunately for the Marlins, Loria’s ownership tenure may be coming to an end. Unfortunately, in what seems like a surefire way to alienate America’s longest standing ally, he may become the US Ambassador to France.

10. Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys

In 2012, Jones delivered one of the funniest lines ever heard at a press conference.

“I’ve been here when it was glory hole days and I’ve been here when it wasn’t. Having said that, I want me some glory hole.”

On it’s own, that some glorious blowhard talk. But with Jones, it was just another in a long line of blowhard moments.

After winning two Super Bowls with Jimmy Johnson, Jones wanted the credit. He said to Johnson that 500 guys could win the Super Bowl with the team he put together. It hasn’t worked out that way.

More recently, he made it clear that he wanted to draft Johnny Manziel, despite Zack Martin being higher rated and making more sense for the team. Fortunately for the Cowboys, Jones eventually lost that battle of wills to his son, Stephen.

During the 2017 offseason, Jones has been inconsistent regarding his plans with long time quarterback, Tony Romo. After planning to release him (and reportedly telling Romo of his plans), Jones has failed to actually release him.

Jones has enjoyed great success running the show in Dallas. But he’s also been a blowhard from Day 1 and has shown no signs of slowing down.

About the author

Michael Dixon

Michael Dixon

Bay Area born and raised, I have extensive experience in both the print and online worlds. There are few things in this world I love doing more than talking sports.