The owners of the New England Patriots and the New York Jets, squads meeting Sunday with first place at stake in the American Football Conference’s Eastern Division, line up on opposite sides in the political arena as well.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft has given $5,000 — the maximum allowed under federal election law — to President Obama. The Jets’s Woody Johnson not only has funneled the same amount to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, he serves as the New York finance chairman for the former Massachusetts governor, a Patriots fan.
Johnson told Bloomberg Television’s on Oct. 1 that he’s rooting more for a Romney victory than for his team to finish the season with a winning record.
“Well, I think you always have to put country first,” Johnson said. “So I think it’s very, very important, not only for us but in particular for our kids and grandkids, that this election come off.”
Among other owners of the 32 National Football League teams, Johnson’s leanings in the presidential race are more typical than Kraft’s.
The Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Blank and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Dan Rooney, named by Obama in 2009 to be ambassador to Ireland, joined Kraft in donating to the president’s re-election campaign, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis and the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign donations.
Eleven other owners aside from Johnson are Romney donors, including the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and the Washington Redskins’ Dan Snyder, whose teams otherwise are arch-enemies.
Relatives of owners who help run teams also are helping Romney. Arizona Cardinals’ owner Bill Bidwill and his son, Michael, have combined to contribute $7,500 to the Republican, and four members of the Spanos family, which owns the San Diego Chargers, have donated $11,000.
The total score, based on the most recent information on donations from the NFL ownership ranks: Romney $63,500; Obama $12,500.