January 31, 2014; Politico
After years of having it pointed out to them, the public seems finally to have had cottoned to the fact that the NFL is a nonprofit. Patrick Hruby tries out a whole line of statements on his readers meant to make the NFL’s status abhorrent to us, if it were not already. He says that the NFL is (direct quotes follow):
Sign up for our free newsletter
Subscribe to the NPQ newsletter to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
- Dodging taxes.
- Pocketing government handouts.
- Passing the buck on workplace injuries.
- Mooching harder than one of Ronald Reagan’s imagined welfare queens.
After all those emotionally-based declarations, though, Hruby goes on to the numbers (also direct quotes):
- The NFL rakes in more than $9 billion a year, more than the GDP of 53 countries. It plans to reach $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027. Nevertheless, the Internal Revenue Service considers the league’s front office a nonprofit. Just like the United Way or your local chamber of commerce.
- In 2012, the league front office—which administers the rules and business for its 32 for-profit teams—donated $2.4 million to charity. Not bad, until you realize that $2.1 million of that went to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was paid $29.5 million, about 30 times what the chief executive of the United Way made in the same year.
- In 2009, the league paid a total of $53.6 million to eight of its top front-office executives.
- In 2010, league vice president of media Steve Bornstein earned $12.2 million.
- Between 2007 and 2012, ex-commissioner Paul Tagliabue, despite having retired in 2006, was paid $46.4 million by the league office and related organizations. To not work.
Wow, these salaries put those other more mildly excessive nonprofit salaries that local papers go on and on about to shame. He ends with “And you thought the people who created credit default swaps were evil geniuses.”
So, do you think things will calm down on this issue, post–Super Bowl? Or what?—Ruth McCambridge