The Denver Broncos are in the market for a new owner, and Black billionaire Robert F. Smith is named among potential buyers. The Broncos are expected to be sold during this offseason, and Smith would make NFL history as the first Black owner ever.
Earlier last week, Front Office Sports reported Smith was in talks to buy the Broncos. The 59-year-old entrepreneur and Denver native has an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion, according to Forbes, making him one of the very few people able to afford an NFL team.
Smith founded Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm with a reported $86 billion assets under management in September 2021. The company is focused on financing and forwarding software, data and technology-enabled startup businesses.
The Broncos are valued at over $4 billion, which would make it the most expensive team sale in US sports history, according to Black Enterprise. The NFL requires all principal owners to fund at least 30% of the purchase in cash, so Smith would have to come up with at least $1.3 billion to even bid on the team.
While Smith undoubtedly has the money to buy the Broncos, other celebrities, billionaires and Bronco royalty have been named potential buyers. This includes former Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.
With the NFL's lack of diversity in head coaching and management, the potential for a Black owner is a welcome surprise. However, reports from a source close to Smith on Monday said he does not plan to buy the team if bidding begins this offseason, shattering the short-lived hopes for history. The reports come from an interview with an unnamed source.
"Robert's priorities right now are on the fight for voting rights and economic justice rather than being an owner of a team," the source said. "He continues to be most focused on how he can best help underserved communities gain access to capital, healthcare, education, and the ballot box. Pursuing ownership of the Broncos is not on his radar right now."
Smith wants to promote growth for Black people in all areas of life, and at the moment, owning an NFL team does not seem in line with his goals. He has most notably started the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy, modeled after Historically Black Colleges and Universities, in August of 2021.
While it seems Smith is out of conversations, the thought of having a Black owner in the NFL is exciting. More Black names will be in the conversation to buy a team in years to come, and eventually, history will be made with the first Black owner.