Robert Smith – the nation’s richest black man – is putting together an offer for the Denver Broncos, sources close to the matter tell The Post.
Sealing the deal would make him the first black owner of an NFL team and come as a league strives to repair its tarnished image when it comes to race relations. Making an offer is also a reversal for Smith, who just last month said he wasn’t interested in the team, sources said.
Now Smith – who is known to have paid from the student loans of the entire senior class of 2019 from Morehouse College — May also have competition: Walmart heir Robson Walton, who is interested in buying the Broncos, say sources familiar with the matter.
Walton – whose sister Ann is married to Super Bowl champion Stan Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams – is valued at more than $60 billion. A Walton representative declined to comment.
Smith, who is said to be worth around $9 billion, “wants to be Denver’s George Steinbrenner,” said another source who was following the situation. “He’s putting together a team to get the finances together,” the source said.
It’s not yet clear what he will be offering or how his funding will be put together.
The NFL has been feverishly appealing to Smith for months to buy the Broncos — and so far he’s been reluctant to bid. But Smith has a personal connection: He’s from Denver and grew up with the Broncos.
And although sources close to him previously said he had ruled out an offer, Smith’s wife – Hope Dworaczyk Smith, a former Playboy model – said posted a series of pictures of himself in a suite at this year’s Super Bowl suggesting that buying the Broncos was still a possibility. “I’m trying this new owner team idea,” she said in the Instagram post.
Smith, who declined to comment on the story, must act soon if he is to buy the team.
The Broncos are going through an estate sale and the team’s banker, Allen & Co., recently asked interested parties to submit financial information showing they can afford to buy the team, sources said.
To fund a likely purchase of around $4 billion, a suitor would need to come up with around $1 billion of their own money. This takes into account that a bidder could owe the team up to $1 billion — and that a controlling owner would need to own at least 33% of the shares.
Jeff Bezos is also an alleged Broncos admirer who is being taken seriously by sports industry sources. Los Angeles Dodgers owner Todd Boehly and Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris are also said to be interested in a potential bid for the Broncos, industry sources said.
Meanwhile, Weather Channel owner Byron Allen, who would also be the first black owner of the NFL, has said he was interested in buying the Broncos, but sports industry sources said they were skeptical he had the funds.
The Broncos this week traded for nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson — maybe making the team even hotter, sources said.
The NFL has an owners meeting March 27-30 where the Broncos situation will certainly be discussed.
Smith has devoted much of his time to racial equality — including his Southern Communities Initiative, which aims to invest and raise money for improvements in six cities that represent half the black population: Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Charlotte; Houston; Memphis; and New Orleans. This includes providing internet services to low-income and minority households and access to capital for black-owned businesses.
He has come to believe he would make changes in the NFL more effectively from within, where 70% of players are black, than from outside the process, say sources familiar with the matter.
Weeks ago, Smith was busy raising a new private equity fund worth over $20 billion, and sources believe he doesn’t want to split his focus between that and the Broncos auction.
Sources familiar with the matter say New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft encouraged Smith to make an offer. Kraft has worked with Smith to help incarcerated African Americans. And Smith now believes a black owner holding a Super Bowl trophy would set a major precedent, sources say.
The NFL is trying to combat an image among some who have a race relations issue. Recently, Brian Flores, ex-Miami Dolphins coach, filed a lawsuit against the NFL, comparing the league to a “plantation.”
Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has easily admitted Smith as the owner — aware that he reached a $140 million settlement with the US Department of Justice in 2020 over tax evasion, according to a source familiar to him.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/10/robert-smith-preparing-bid-for-denver-broncos-in-surprise-reversal-sources/ Robert Smith primes Denver Broncos bid in surprise reversal: sources