Today’s NFL is a league in which billionaire white guys** own franchises, 70% of whose players are black.
Our politics are now dominated by an overtly and viciously racist president and an indoor-voice racist Republican party. Which is why, I think that Sports Illustrated chose to post without comment an article about the political donations of the owners and top execs of each NFL franchise.
A fair number of team owners took what I see as the “don’t bother me” approach to donations — often skewing GOP, but in modest amounts and with an eye to local incumbents. But several were more active, even hungry in their love of Trump and/or Republicans or PACs that function as Trump enablers.
See, e.g., Bob McNair of the Texans: literally millions this year to the Republican national campaigns while “his list of 2018 donations, all Republican, is too long to fit on the page. Results can be found here.” Huge Trump cash supporter in 2016 as well. He’s the worst of the worst.
I never liked John Elway, and I like him less now that I know he’s a slow but steady GOP donor — though as a Raiders fan as a kid and Patriots one now, I can’t say I needed more reasons to dis Denver.
Then there are those who are trying to scattershot GOP success all over the map, well beyond their own territory. Jimmy Haslam of the Browns, is one, as is the Cardinals’ Mike Bidwell
Jerry Jones is everyone’s fool, so I guess I can laugh at his 2016 six figure support of Chris Christie. There’s one born every minute. But I’m less inclined to forgive the Tampa Bay owners, the Glazers, for their persistent and substantial support for the RNC this time out.
What’s interesting, though, is how many owners, many of whom have been big GOP donors in past cycles, have sat out this one. I count 14 who in 2018 either donated only to the NFLPAC or not at all. And there are a couple who clearly lean our side — notably Wilf of the Vikes and the Falcons’ Blank.
So there you have it. The Krafts have been lying low, and despite Robert’s documented friendship w. Trump (feh!) seem to lean a little more D than R, so I guess I can keep on hoping the Patsies do well, even as I try to wean myself from this young-man’s-mind-wrecking sport. But I’m done seeing Cleveland as lovable underdogs to root for; may they lose every game they play under current ownership. And Tampa Bay is a crater. Sorry, Betty, but f**k ’em.
Last thought: I’m not going to interpret information for which I have clearly insufficient contextual knowledge. But my prior here is that the large number of non-contributors, with more minimal donators who could be added to the list, reflects an impact of the kneeling demonstrations. Whether it’s hearts and minds changing or a “who-needs-the-grief” impulse this looks to me like a potentially causal connection that will be tested, perhaps confirmed, as we go into the next presidential cycle. (Thank you, Rev. Bayes, and/or M. Laplace.)
And with that, pointless railing at the behavior of old rich white men over. Open thread.
*Yes. It is obviously ridiculous to care about NFL teams by ownership. But it’s also ridiculous to root for laundry, or which town happened to give the super rich a tax break etc., and we do it anyway. So there.
**Almost exclusively — Shahid Khan of the Jaguars is the only owner of color, and there are seven women on the principal ownership roles, either with other family members or on their own.
Image: Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, Innocence preferring love to wealth, 1804
Is it the protests, or have the owners decided that supporting the Republicans this year means they’ll be throwing good money after bad?
Today’s NFL is a league in which billionaires own millionaires. Is this the American Dream, or what?
As of January, 2018, the average salary of an NFL player was $2.1 million.
I hope we see more of this. Some of these guys seem smart enough to figure out that what Trump is selling ain’t worth buying.
It seems the GM and HC of my beloved Green Bay Packers are apolitical. (The team is owned by the City of Green Bay. The article does not list any information about the team president and the board of directors.)
Mr Stagger Lee
Why don’t you also boycott Nike, despite the Kaepernick commercials. Phil Knight is a big contributor to the GOP. I believe the Under Armour guy was a early backer of Trump Don IL. In spite of who the owner supports. I am going to root for my team, I will watch Clint Eastwood films. I like a couple of films with James Woods and Bruce Willis. In other words I have a life outside politics. Then some wonder why most Americans are not even bothering to vote. (I voted for the record)
I'll be Frank
You’d think that billionaires’ club would be patriotic enough for “displays of patriotism” without being paid in the hundreds of millions $$ for those said acts of patriotism.
I call a 15-yard penalty for extreme homerism on your excuse-making for the Pats. The Bucs (shitty) ownership could also be described as “mixed” if you squoonch up your face just right, since they contributed to both Trump and Hillary in 2016. A pox on all their houses, of course — but Kraft and Brady are personal friends with Trump. Personal. Friends. With. Trump. Ergo, if the Bucs suck, so do the Pats. :)
Jeff Lurie, owner of the Eagles has spoken out against Trump and supported Hillary in 2016. He has given to Republicans too over the years, but more so to Democrats. Fly Eagles Fly!
Hurray for my Vikes!
Nope, no pass for the Kraft family. I still remember seeing the racist, misogynistic pustule Limbaugh in the owner’s box at one of New England’s Super Bowl appearances. Vile people have vile friends.
@MJS: True, I’d forgotten that! I still get a chuckle out of Vladimir Putin making off with one of Kraft’s Superb Owl rings.
@Betty Cracker: Yep. I remember Brady having a MAGA hat in his locker. “Oh, _that_ hat? I’m not political, he’s just a friend.” Bull. Shit.
@Betty Cracker: Patriot fans have had to make all sorts of excuses for all sorts of questionable activities over the years.
I was a football fan for about 50 years. But when that study came out summer before last on the post-mortems of player brains, finding all but one of them showing signs of CTE, the thought crossed my mind, “I’m watching young men grind up their brains for my entertainment.” It surprised me a little bit. But once I thought that, I began reflecting on the numerous other things football does to its players. Darryl Stingley’s paralysis and early death; uncounted linemen hobbling out their declining years in terrible pain due to the beating their leg joints take; concussions, of course; early deaths of Lyle Alzado and others due to steroid and pain-killer abuse; the horrible record of the NFL of taking care of its players after their careers on the field are over; and so on.
Yes, many of these young men are (now) paid what we consider a lot of money. But I don’t think the compensation is adequate for a shortened life span spend in pain. Most of them take up the sport when they’re very young, too young to make an informed, rational decision. And who can really make a choice between “Lots of money, fame, and fortune in the next 10 years if you’re good enough” and “But you’ll live out your days trying to remember your kids’ names”?
It hasn’t always been easy, but I had to quit making excuses for myself to watch this sport. Be a fan for as long as you can.
@Mr Stagger Lee: I believe most of us here can separate politics from sports and entertainment. Not sure who you’re mad at. Lol.
Until last year, I would have thought that your average football coach in the 21st century wouldn’t GAS if his quarterback was white, black, or green. That turns out to not be the case; if Nathan Peterman is playing and Colin Kaepernick isn’t, you aren’t signing players merely on the basis of talent.
Team owners expect massive tax breaks from cities to be allowed to have their team play in their city. Why wouldn’t they support republicans who will lower their personal tax liability. Money, money, money.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@CindyH: weren’t the Rooneys (Pittsburgh) Obama supporters?
@Brachiator: Average as in “mean”? That’s got to be skewed high by the biggest contracts. I’d be more interested in the median, which I would guess is around $1M (minimum salary is $450K) – & possibly lower if practice-squad players ($5,700/wk) & others signed to week-by-week contracts (after a specified point in the season) are included.
Looks like Poe’s Crows (hometown team here) haven’t sent a dime to the Thugs since 2006 – the last two (modest) contributions went to Democrats. The Stealers are bluer, but you’d kinda expect that from the Rooneys, no?
@Betty Cracker: Yup. The Krafts, Belichick and Brady are all lost causes. Actually, the Krafts have a decent reputation around here in philanthropy and Jewish causes, and have skewed a bit D insofar as its been possible to trace political leanings — not surprising in MA, after all. But yeah — lots of signals that all is not kosher there.
I am slowly getting off my football habit. It’s a destructive, shitty sport that eats up young men. It’s also a beautiful game, complicated, precise and cathartically violent…which is to say what makes it so watchable is what makes it so awful.
The Rooney family that owns the Steelers were big Obama supporters, whereas, Dan Snyder inspires bipartisan hatred in the nation’s capitol.
@Betty Cracker: Giselle hates trump so does that count? Also Brady didn’t go to the white house when the pats won.
@JPL: Brady’s wife is an immigrant and I think whatever support he held for Trump is not necessarily political. I am not a Pats fan, but fair is fair, Brady has not really been a vocal supporter, on the other hand, that might just be a reflection that he knows which way the wind is blowing in his own backyard.
@Barbara: He puts his family first, so to say.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
that was sweet, you know it drove The Beast nuts.
@Barbara: it also strikes me that Brady is not one of your brighter bulbs on the NFL Christmas tree. I’m not a huge fan either, but my god I felt sorry for him when he tried to host SNL
@CindyH: Was going to say I thought the Eagles owner was fairly liberal and supported the players kneeling.
Well put. I find myself in a similar state. I’m now more a tribal watcher of the Wisconsin teams (actually listener – I’m a huge fan of the streamed radio broadcasts), rather than a fan of the sport in general.
@Tom Levenson: How did the joke go? “Random violence interspersed with committee meetings.”
I used to like to watch the sport a lot more than I do now. What used to be great moments in a game are now turned into Talmudic interpretations of events taking place in hundredths of a second, using a ruleset that the officials themselves aren’t 100% sure of.
@gratuitous: I remember the 60 Minutes segment on John Mackey, the gifted tough-as-nails former Baltimore Colt tight end who essentially invented the position as we now know it. JFC, his plight was enough to make a hardass Baltimore football fan (we love the Ravens but we still cherish our Colts) break down into inconsolable weeping.
@RobertB: “The joke” was a quote from George Will, who occasionally writes interesting things when he forsakes politics (about which he knows fook-all) for his cherished sport of baseball.
ETA: The actual quote goes: “Football combines two of the worst things in American life. It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”
I have this vision in my head of Kraft’s late wife visiting him in the night and telling him that he can sleep with all the thirty-year-olds he wants, but if he doesn’t clean up his politics she’s going to make his junk fall off.
Johnny Gentle (famous crooner)
Don’t forget that McNair is the same piece of shit who, during a meeting with players at the height of the anthem protests, stated that the owners couldn’t “let the inmates run the prison.”
He apologized, then later said that he regretted apologizing.
As for the other owners, it shouldn’t be surprising. I’d assume their political ideology is in line with how millionaires and billionaires generally donate and vote. At least the new Carolina Panthers owner is an open Trump-hater (though the guy has other problems himself).
@Uncle Cosmo: Heck, I laughed. :)
Bear in mind that these days most coaches aren’t the ones making hiring decisions. You have to look higher up in the organization to see who is responsible for refusing to hire somebody like Kaepernick. I’m pretty sure that decision was made at the ownership level.
Oh goodie, we no longer have football threads on game day so we get to have all the bitching about it when there is nothing else going on.
Well said. And I never thought I’d say this in a million years, but I find myself in a similar place. It’s not just the CTE issue, for me, though that’s part of it — if my minor child wanted to play football, I’d say no. But it’s also the misogyny, racism, exploitation, etc., that seem inextricably linked to the sport, at least as practiced currently. It’s getting harder to watch.
@Betty Cracker: All true, alas.
@Betty Cracker: Nothing to do with the Gators Suck now does it?
The Glazers also made the mistake of buying, and then trying to make friends with, Manchester United. Fuckem.
So what. The players are still labor.
Let’s not forget Woody “look at me I’m Ambassador to England” Johnson and his hapless Jets.
@khead: So what?
scott (the other one)
I stopped watching football years ago, but my response to that is: Good. They have skills that are highly in demand but only for a limited period of time. And making use of those skills requires that they very much risk their long-term health and even lives.
@scott (the other one):
Yeah this. Probably should’ve been more clear in my previous post.
@Roger Moore: I guess it depends on how much guts your GM or coach has. I’d bet that the root of this decision, for some coaches/GMs, is that they don’t want the Colin Kaepernick Show camped out on their doorstep. You’d think, though, that running some of the abysmal second (and first) string quarterbacks out there to throw four interceptions a game, every game, couldn’t be good for your job.
Yea, we want Kap to play but we want the game abolished. Brilliant.
@Uncle Cosmo: Precisely the question I was askin’ myself. Link: https://work.chron.com/much-money-nfl-player-make-year-2377.html
Isn’t there some dog who needs to be rescued somewhere?
Curious as to how Seattle ownership settles out. PB Allen was hellbent on keeping them home and while I doubt the league is interested in/ motivated to move them they’ve done far, far stupider things. There’s now a hole to plug in the Bay Area, for one thing.
George Will is as pompous and annoying when writing about baseball as he is when writing about politics. He’s also a minority owner of the Orioles, and unsurprisingly has allowed that to affect his writing. For example, he used to claim that conservatives should take the players’ side in labor disputes, since the players were only demanding a free market for their services. You can imagine how long that position survived his buying a stake in a team.
Any parent who allows their son to play handegg should be indicted for reckless endangerment.
??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??
@Raven: Nope. I’ve been a Gators fan since I was in diapers, which means I’ve endured many years when they sucked a whole lot worse than they do now.
I like how the figure of Innocence in that painting is male, and Love and Wealth are female.
@Uncle Cosmo: I just analyzed the Patriots instead of the whole league, but among the 54 active rostered players, the Pats mean salary is $2.8 million and the median is $1.8 million. If you also count in the 24 players who are not on the active roster but are getting paid in some fashion (injured reserve, practice squad, etc.), the mean falls to $2.1 million and the median is about $900,000. I have no reason to believe the Pats salary distribution looks substantially different than any other team.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
“Run by a pack of rich white guys passed their sale by date” sounds sort of sums why the NFL is losing popularity.
Also: Lefty-liberal Chicago Cubs fans know this dilemma well. On the one hand, we finally got to see our team win a World Series, but on the other it took the godawful Ricketts family to make it happen. And as an added bonus we get to see the neighborhood around Wrigley become even more overdeveloped and gentrified than it already was.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Issa (R) Tool calls his own race for the Dems.
Well what ever else happens, that’s good step in the right direction.
1. Football is a brutal barbaric sport which I love, including playing it in high school. Not proud of it, don’t feel guilty about it.
2. If you want to be a fan of a professional sports team, under no circumstances learn anything about the owner.
Rooting against the Browns’ ownership is never a mistake. They are the most important thing wrong with that team.
@EricNNY: Its just a game to them.
One more vote for Jay Gonzales from my friend who just became a citizen this August, so that she could vote in this election!
@gratuitous: Yes, they make the decision to play football before they’re really mature enough to make an informed decision, and then there’s Marshawn Lynch who retired from the Seahawks, ostensibly because he had enough money and was aware of what the sport would ultimately do to him. Possibly influenced by the near-fatal injury to Tyler Lockett, one of his teammates.
A year or two later he signed with the Raiders. He was certainly old enough to make an informed decision at that point. I don’t know if it was money or something else that drew him back to pro football but it certainly was disturbing to see.
@Ridnik Chrome: Lots of gender ambiguity going on there.
@Enhanced Voting Techniques: Of course, he doesn’t accept any responsibility for what’s happening. On the list of legislators I would like to replaced he’s kind of second tier, but only because Steve King, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan etc are that much worse. Still glad he’s gone.
Art Rooney pretty much stays out of politics but when he doesn’t, he gives to Democrats. Glad to see that. Makes me feel better about all the Steeler gear I have.
The collusion of league owners against Colin Kaepernick is plenty of reason to dislike all of them. Even the supposedly “good” ones.
@Tom Levenson: When I lived in Dallas in the eighties, the wife of the athletic department of a major college in the area told me not to let my sons play football until high school at the earliest. There were signs years ago about possible damage especially with younger children.
@JMG: “If you want to be a fan of a professional sports team, under no circumstances learn anything about the owner.”
Unless it’s the Green Bay Packers…wait…nevermind. //MN expat
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
Yes. Dan Rooney was the ambassador to Ireland under Obama.
Comrade Colette Collaboratrice
My minor child does want to play football, and we’ve said no. I stopped watching a few seasons ago, because I couldn’t reconcile that “no” with my enjoyment of the game. My husband still watches with our 15-year-old son, but he feels kind of conflicted about it – which makes it all better, right?
This is hilarious. McConnell is photobombed while he’s voting. Definitely click through to see the photo.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@bluehill: Last night, we were asked to have dinner with a couple who’s considering moving in here. When the woman heard we’d moved from Iowa, she said she once heard Steve King speak and wished he could be her representative. I stuttered then said “he’s a racist and neo-Nazi.” I suspect this was not what the sales dept here would have wanted from me when they asked us to eat with these people.
@JPL: My friend who is a pediatric oncologist*, was very anti-football since the mid aughts because of the the football injuries she had seen in the ER during her various residencies. So people knew.
* The same one who is stuck in an interminable immigration limbo.
@Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: Nothing makes anything “all better”. Living is risky.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: I’m proud of you, because you spoke the truth.
@Ridnik Chrome: The male figure is Love. It has wings, it is Cupid. The woman in light blue is Innocence.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Dorothy A. Winsor: good for you
I’m listening to MSNBC and trying to stop trying to read between the lines of what they’re saying. “Why did Steve Schmidt say that? What data has he seen? KNOCK IT OFF, DUMMY!”
On seeing the artist’s name Pierre-Paul Prud’hon I could only think of Paul Prudhomme, the turducken guy. He would have really amped up the painting.
@schrodingers_cat: You’d have to be a fucking idiot not to “know” it dangerous. Oh, or never have played the game, that would do it.
Comrade Colette Collaboratrice
Huh. At first I thought that was Eros on the far left as Love, the female figure on the right was Wealth, and the couple represented Innocence – but the adult male of the couple also has Eros-like wings, so he might be Eros and the little kid is just carrying his attributes? It is ambiguous.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: What did he say? Exit polls are misleading because I saw the early exit polls for Kerry and his loss caused me grief. Anyway tell me.
Dems get first flip!
@opiejeanne: Yes, I see that now. In my defense, it’s kind of hard to make out the wings in that reproduction.
@Raven: The link between concussion, life long brain damage and football has been underplayed until recently in the media. One doesn’t have to have played the game to know that it is dangerous. Basic physics tells you that. Force on impact depends on the momentum.
@Yarrow: Nice. Pic was from four years ago, but still funny. I bet if that guy were behind him today, he’d use a different digit than his thumb.
@schrodingers_cat: No shit. So don’t play it and don’t watch it.
My third-most-important beef with football is the way it skews and distorts the mission and funding of so many universities, to the point that the highest-paid state employee in many states is a college football coach (while the actual players go unpaid, and most of them fail to get an actual education). Something about that is just wrong.
My second-most important beef with football is that I was knocked unconscious in a no-equipment pickup game of tackle when I was seven years old, and lost my upper incisors in a running collision in a mandatory game of no-equipment flag football when I was thirteen.
My first-most important beef with football is CTE and the physical damage to the players, and the exploitation of “college” players.
There are amazing moments, and amazing feats.
I don’t watch, I don’t listen, I don’t follow, I don’t fan.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@JPL: just my own dumb speculation, really. He keeps talking about the lesson Republicans need to learn from this rebuke… if it is a rebuke. Nothing I should be reading too much into
I remember Kerry, too. I was in Paris on election day. When I went to bed, they were speculating about who would be Kerry’s SoS and how this would effect Iraq. When I woke up, Bush had won. My depression lasted a while
@schrodingers_cat: I lived in a neighborhood with connections to college football. That particular person was AD for the only college that received the death penalty. He did get a big buyout though. After we moved to Atlanta the neighbor across the street dad was banned from football at Texas A and M for doing the same thing that SMU did but they just lost scholarships.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: Besides all the neo-Nazi stuff, apparently King doesn’t even do the representing stuff well except for his kids.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: I felt comfortable with Obama, and although I awoke at two last night I’m not uncomfortable. I saw enough of trump’s rabid fans to know there was a good chance he would win. I hope there is a large rebuke. GA is not purple though but we need to celebrate just moving that needle.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@bluehill: I think this woman honestly didn’t know anything about King except her impression from the one time she heard him speak. A friend of mine is a political reporter for Iowa Public Radio, and she says King is charming in person. I was still horrified. Ignorance can do a lot of damage.
tRump is bad for the football business and the owners have finally cottoned onto it?
The owners better hope the players particularly the African American ones and those who show solidarity don’t decide to show all those tRump supporting “fans” their power. Cause if they all decided not to play one weekend there would be no football.
@joel hanes: Totally agree with this: “beef with football is the way it skews and distorts the mission and funding of so many universities, to the point that the highest-paid state employee in many states is a college football coach (while the actual players go unpaid, and most of them fail to get an actual education).”
The Athletic Industrial Complex has utterly corrupted several prominent universities, including Penn St., the University of North Carolina, SMU, Michigan State, and Baylor, all of whom elevated sports over academics and ethics, their purported missions. The very idea of a university being publicly recognized by most people for its prowess or lack thereof at sports is sort of mindboggling when you step back and look at it.
Part of a culture-wide issue, I think, and unique, unfortunately, to the United States.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: Yeah, hopefully it’s not willful ignorance. Seems like a lot of people have come down with it.
King doesn’t even do the representing stuff
In his nine terms, he has originated exactly one bill. It re-named a Post Office. It passed.
So he’s batting 100
He doesn’t show up for committee meetings. He doesn’t do constituent service.
He didn’t bring home pork before earmarks were banned.
His entire schtick and reason for existing is to express contempt for those less fortunate, and hatred for those who are not white Protestants from a rural situation.
@Dorothy A. Winsor:
In my times spent in his district I never once encountered anybody remotely like the Steve King we’re all familiar with, which really has me questioning everything I thought I knew about “Iowa nice.”
I can say with confidence he never encountered my granny, otherwise he’d still show the scorch marks.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: it’s not impossible for dreadful people to be charming in person. i also wonder too if the wingnut stuff is expressed out of town instead of locally. I mean European hard righties don’t take day trips to Iowa often.
I don’t watch football anymore. Part of it is the injuries, part is how boring the broadcasts have become, and part is growing up a Cardinals fan.
@Yarrow: That photo is from 2014. Still droll.
everything I thought I knew about “Iowa nice.”
Iowans tend to be averse to public conflict; they leave the quiet parts completely unvoiced.
That’s what makes them nice, in the sense being used here.
NW Iowa was traditionally monochrome white, and has the least Catholics of
any part of the state, and is the most rural,
so xenophobia didn’t used to be a potential source of conflict,
especially among those who seldom travel more than fifty miles from their
place of birth
King was early notable for saying the quiet parts at all, then for saying them audibly.
As tribal allegiance hardened and the Rs went full racist, his schtick evolved to the vile spew we know him for today.
There is no other sport that resonates with gamblers like football. And it just became legal to bet on football nationwide. So, football ain’t going anywhere. New Jersey brought in $450 million in sports bets in September. I made my peace with the “problems” of football long ago. Of course, I’m a cynical degenerate gambler. YMMV.
@CindyH: This!!! Go Birds !
@Ridnik Chrome: The wings are very dark and I missed them at first. I blew the picture up a bit because at first glance I thought there were three women in the painting. I thought that was unlikely. Then I realized that that is a very idealized “youth” wearing wings, so Eros. Love.