On paper, the AFC West looks like it will be the toughest division in the entire NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs remain the defending division champs and still have Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid leading things, but both the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers made huge on-field additions. The Denver Broncos did as well but also made a huge change at the top with a new ownership group headed by former Walmart CEO Rob Walton.
Having the right leadership at the top can truly make all the difference in a sports franchise. Dysfunction, different priorities, and bad decision-making at the ownership level can trickle down to the rest of the franchise and sink a team before it ever really has a chance to succeed.
Whether or not the Broncos’ new ownership group will fall under that category has yet to be seen, but Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn’t believe the change will affect the Broncos on the field. Davis spoke with Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, saying that the owners don’t play in the games before praising the previous owners:
Asked Mark Davis if Broncos will be tougher to beat now that they have strong ownership: “No, they don’t play in the games. And I thought the Bowlens were a strong ownership group. I thought they did a really good job. They were tough. The AFC West is tough.’’ #9sports https://t.co/B70C2VYn8e
— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) August 9, 2022
Obviously, owners don’t actually take the field, but they can definitely have an impact both positively and negatively. Perhaps part of this is simply Davis’ confidence in his team’s ability to come out on top against Denver this year, but to imply that new owners won’t change anything may be a bit misguided.
If a team is under bad ownership, a change at the top can energize everyone within the organization. No one knows if that will be the case in Denver yet or whether that will push them above the Raiders in the divisional standings.
The Raiders and Broncos remain one of the biggest rivalries in the league, and regardless of Davis’ comments, that won’t change when the two teams take the field.