Robert F. Smith is a name that’s just emerged in the American pop-culture consciousness because he was named the richest African American, surpassing Oprah Winfrey to hit that mark in March of 2018. Mr. Smith also spent $40 million to pay off the student loan debts of nearly 400 graduating seniors at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
But Robert F. Smith just may be working on something else that will push his name even higher in American pop-culture: he just might be part of the Ray Bobbitt-led-team of African Americans who want to bring NFL football back to Oakland. After all, Smith has an office in Downtown Oakland via his company Vista Equity Partners.
And what’s the kernel of information that causes this blogger to issue such a hypothesis: well, first Robert F. Smith is certainly in the category of level of wealth that would allow him to even think about owning an NFL Football team. Here’s where Mr. Smith would fit in the net-worth-rankings (according to Celebrity Net Worth) of NFL Owners, should he become one:
David Tepper, Carolina Panthers – $12 billion
Shad Kahn, Jacksonville Jaguars – $9 billion
Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys – $8.5 billion
Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins – $7.7 billion
Stan Kroenke, Los Angeles Rams – $7.7 billion
Robert Kraft, New England Patriots – $6.2 billion
Robert F. Smith, Oakland Expansion NFL Team – $5 billion
Malcolm Glazer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $4.6 billion
Terry Pagula, Buffalo Bills – $4.6 billion
Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons – $4 billion
Steve Bisciotti, Baltimore Ravens – $4 billion
Jimmy Haslam, Cleveland Browns – $4 billion
Woody Johnson, New York Jets – $3.5 billion
Gayle Benson, New Orleans Saints – $2.8 billion
Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts – $2.1 billion
Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins – $2.3 billion
Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles – $2 billion
Clark Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs – $2 billion
Virginia Halas McCaskey, Chicago Bears – $1.3 billion
Zygi Wilf, Minnesota Vikings – $1.3 billion
Steve Tisch, New York Giants – $1.2 billion
Dean Spanos, Los Angeles Chargers – $1 billion
Denise DeBartolo York, San Francisco 49ers – $1 billion
Martha Firestone Ford, Detroit Lions – $800 million
John Mara, New York Giants – New York Giants
Mark Davis, Las Vegas Raiders – $250 million
So, as you can see, Robert F. Smith would be in the top ten, and at the 7th spot, in front of Malcolm Glazer, who owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and represents the Glazer family.
So, from the look of that list, at least, Robert F. Smith would fit right in NFL circles.
And the other bit of information that would seem to point to NFL Football in Oakland is his office location, in Oakland. Consider that Robert F. Smith’s Vista Equity Partners has offices in Austin, Texas, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and now Oakland, in what was originally called the American President Lines Building at 1111 Broadway, Suite 1980.
And Then There’s The Unnecessary Secrecy Behind Who’s Involved In The Oakland NFL Football Effort
Another sign is the unnecessary secrecy attached to who’s involved in the who nacent group behind NFL Football in Oakland. I can say, from experience, that the first sign of failure in projects like this is secrecy. If I had a buck for every Oakland effort that tried to make itself look like it was doing something by playing it close to the vest, only to fail, I’d be as rich as Robert F. Smith. It’s the ultimate act of the neophyte to make themselves feel important by starting an insiders club, right off the bat.
Look, forming an effort to buy an run an NFL team is involved, but it’s not rocket science, OK? The first think you really need is a business plan to bring it, and then a stadium design concept. Then, you need to meet with the NFL and then local business and elected officials, and have a role for each of them to play in the role of booster. But for Christ-sakes don’t get the elected officials involved as spokespeople until you have shown progress with the NFL. The last thing an elected official wants is to be embarrassed. They hate that.
The Oakland NFL Football Effort Should Look At The Nashville Stars Baseball Team
Now, the chance that there will be black pro sports ownership may happen in Major League Baseball, before the NFL. Look at the very open effort of the people behind the proposed expansion Nashville Stars Baseball Team. You can see who the business people are, and what they want the stadium to look like. It’s very exciting, and something the Oakland group should pay attention to, and copy.
Meanwhile, I say this: welcome to Oakland, Robert F. Smith!