(Reuters) - Steve Bisciotti admits he was not much of a football player as a child, but this week the humble Baltimore Ravens owner finds himself one win away from claiming America’s biggest sporting prize in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
The success Bisciotti failed to find on the high school gridiron he earned elsewhere, building a staffing company into a global enterprise that employs over 8,000 people across the United States, Canada and Europe.
Now one of America’s richest men, with a net worth of $1.6 billion according to Forbes, and owner of the Ravens, Bisciotti has gone from a basement office to the owner’s suite at M&T Bank stadium and on Sunday will be in New Orleans watching his team play in the National Football League’s (NFL) title game.
Growing up in a working-class Baltimore neighborhood, Bisciotti supported Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and the NFL’s disbanded Baltimore Colts, attending games with his father who died of leukemia when he was eight.
That love of sport would lead Bisciotti, 52, to purchase the hometown Ravens 13 years ago, making him the second youngest owner of a NFL franchise.
In 2000, Bisciotti bought a 49 percent stake in the team from Art Modell and four years later completed the purchase acquiring controlling interest of the franchise.
Described as an energetic visionary, Bisciotti may be among the 300 richest men in America but the married father of two boys keeps a low profile in his business and sport endeavors.
He is content to stay out of the spotlight, leaving day-to-day operation of the club in the hands of General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
“I‘m okay if I‘m one of the least known owners in pro sports,” Bisciotti said in a profile on the Ravens website.
One decision Bisciotti did play a significant part in was the hiring of head coach John Harbaugh, which has proven to be a stroke of football genius.
Harbaugh, who had never been a head coach or an offensive or defensive coordinator in the NFL, has guided the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his five seasons in charge.
”Leadership is difficult to define, but you can recognize leadership when you see it,“ explained Bisciotti. ”We all saw something in John ... you have to be willing to separate yourself from the masses - take some chances - to achieve great success.
“There’s probably a little bit more perception that we took a risk with John. We don’t think we did.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue