The NFL is contributing money to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. The contribution was announced in a way that makes it not immediately clear exactly how much the NFL is contributing. But it is clear that, if Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, can donate $5 million, the billionaires who own and operate the league could be doing more.
The league is touting on its official website, and in an item picked up by the Associated Press, the creation of a PSA regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the donation of $35 million. At first blush, it looks like the league has given $35 million to COVID-19 relief efforts. The more accurate characterization, as the league acknowledges, is that the National Football League Players Association, clubs, owners and players have combined to donate more than $35 million.
That specific nuance easily can get lost in generalities. And it has. The first line of the AP item inaccurately declares, for example, that “[t]he NFL has released a public service announcement in conjunction with an announcement of a donation of more than $35 million in COVID-19 relief aid.” The Sports Business Daily headline says incorrectly says, “NFL releases PSA in conjunction with $35 million donation.”
In reality, the NFL’s donation, through the NFL Foundation, is $3.4 million, less than 10 percent of the amount for which the NFL widely is receiving credit. And Drew and Brittany Brees have donated $5 million.
Charitable giving is and always will be an intensely personal decision. Some prefer to handle the issue quietly, in the biblically-preferred do-not-let-your-left-hand-know-what-your-right-hand-is-doing style. But there’s real value in publicizing certain donations, since it will inspire others to do the same.
Or, as the case may be, it will shame others to do the same. Sure, the stock market has been down lately. But the people who own NFL franchises are uniquely positioned to write huge checks without blinking. If Drew and Brittany Brees can write a $5 million check (and they surely blinked at least once or twice when doing so), every other NFL owner should be donating at least $5 million each.
This is the public-health and economic challenge of our lifetimes. Those who have accumulated or inherited gigantic wealth need to do their fair share to help preserve the country that has provided the platform for their success. And those who have platforms that can be used to shake the trees in order to get people of means to do more should be shaking those trees violently.
UPDATE 11:36 p.m. ET: Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s foundation previously pledged $5.4 million. Which is all the more reason for his peers to follow suit by matching or exceeding that amount.