Black Ownership Group Looks to Bring ‘Jackie Robinson Moment’ to the NFL

Owners representing the 32 NFL teams are meeting virtually this week to discuss the state of the league, which appears to be in good hands with the recent signing of broadcast rights contracts worth more than $110 billion.

That’s a hefty number to share among the owners — only two of whom are people of color, and none of whom are Black. But as they divide their lucrative pie, there’s an African American sports group in Oakland, California, hoping to get their community a slice.

That group, the African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG), is hoping to ride the wave of an awakening that occurred last year when, during the pandemic, people began to better understand this country’s racial inequities. Part of the mission of AASEG is to bring a professional football team back to Oakland and make history as the first Black-owned NFL ownership group.

“We feel like this is a Jackie Robinson moment,” said Raymond “Ray” Bobbitt, the creator of AASEG and the founder of an Oakland-based facility management and urban consulting company. “Typically when African Americans break barriers, it opens up barriers for all people who are marginalized.”

One of the main people Bobbitt leans on for advice and guidance is Bill Duffy, a longtime sports agent and the CEO of BDA Sports. For more than three decades Duffy has represented some of the most talented basketball players in the world, including Yao Ming, Steve Nash and Luka Doncic. Last year Duffy stepped out of his comfort zone to join AASEG.