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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Dispute Among Texans’ Ownership Marks Latest NFL Family Feud

  • NFL team owner faces court challenge from her son of being declared incapacitated.
  • The league has a long history of thorny intrafamily disputes among franchise owners.
Oct 1, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) celebrates with wide receiver Nico Collins (12) after a touchdown during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at NRG Stadium.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has struggled for decades with public intra-family feuds among its ownership ranks, and another potentially thorny situation is developing in Houston.

Robert Cary McNair Jr., son of Texans owner Janice McNair and the late Bob McNair, has submitted an application of permanent guardianship for his 87-year-old mother and her estate, asking the Harris County Probate Court to declare her incapacitated. The application is being opposed by both Janice McNair and Cal McNair, another of her sons who also serves as Texans chair and CEO. 

In a request for court records to be sealed, Janice McNair called the matter a “family dispute.”

“It will create a needless and baseless media stir regarding the ownership and direction of the Texans,” she wrote, “thereby negatively affecting our employees, business partners, and the team.” 

History of Strife

The Texans’ situation is far from the first issue among NFL team ownership families that has spilled into the public realm.

  • Miami Dolphins: After the 1990 death of former owner Joe Robbie, family infighting helped lead to a discounted sale of the team to pay a reported $47 million in estate taxes.
  • Washington Commanders: After the 1997 death of former owner Jack Kent Cooke, the team was left to his foundation with instruction to sell it, forcing his son to mount an ultimately unsuccessful bid to buy the team on the open market.
  • New Orleans Saints: Owner Gayle Benson spent nearly a decade in dispute with the children of her late husband, Tom Benson, whom she married later his life. But she ultimately gained control of the team and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, and a deadline to challenge the validity of his will lapsed last year.
  • Denver Broncos: The team was sold in 2022 after the children of the late Pat Bowlen were unable to agree on an in-family succession plan.

The McNair dispute arrives as the Texans prepare to host the Cleveland Browns on Saturday in the wild card playoff round. 

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