NFL owners should be writing big checks to aid with COVID-19 relief efforts

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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.

25 responses to “NFL owners should be writing big checks to aid with COVID-19 relief efforts

  1. Agreed. These guys hand out 40 million to busts every day, what’s 5 million to save peoples lives.

  2. Yeah if a single player can donate 5 million then the league looks bad for only giving 3.4 million. Brees just donated 20% of his annual salary.

  3. I’ve been saying this since the Broncos donated a whole 500K after signing their FA’s to multi million dollar contracts.

  4. Especially since if they can spend a few million to help, maybe it’ll actually save their season and they can make money this fall.

  5. $5 million cash is a lot of cash. Players like Drew Brees get huge salaries. A lot of owners don’t really work/earn a salary. Sure they are all worth billions but most of that worth isn’t in liquid assets. If Arthur Blank sells a bunch of Home Depot stock to donate $5 million cash, there is a decent chance that does more harm than good for society as home depot’s stock probably plummets and maybe their credit rating goes down. Then they might need to lay off workers.

    Not saying they can’t or shouldn’t be donating more. But your comparison ignores the fact that wealth is very different than cash. See Art Modell being forced to sell to Bisciotti as a good example of the difference between wealth and liquidity.

  6. I rarely agree with Mike Florio…but in this case, he has nailed it. The NFL has been skimming huge profits for 50 years…now its time to pay back to the fans and the general public which has been subject to so many tax reliefs, bond issues, and state and federal give aways to “keep the shield” in tact that it is ridiculous. EVERY club needs to give…and give BIG, to account for the overt profiteering that the NFL has foisted upon the public for all these years.

    The people need your help NFL…now give it…or fold.

  7. Help the taxpayers that paid to build their multi million dollar luxury stadiums.

    I’ll never wrap my head around how that is still a thing in this country. Now we build mega warehouses with tax payer funds for mega wealthy corporations like Amazon (who themselves pay no income taxes) We are a mess.

  8. Like what Mike and Pro Football Talk are putting out there here.
    I read somewhere that John Mara has delayed payment for season ticket holders and got some great press for that. Wow John Mara is such a saint. This is a guy whose father and mother used to be proud of their Catholic religion. I bet Wellington Mara is spinning in his grave over this sons mishandling of this crisis and the Giants themselves.
    I think some of us should seriously think about our support for the NFL and all professional sports.
    Thank you Mike and I hope you keep having a topic each day on this travesty from the NFL.

  9. kevo126 says:
    March 27, 2020 at 10:38 am
    $5 million cash is a lot of cash. Players like Drew Brees get huge salaries. A lot of owners don’t really work/earn a salary. Sure they are all worth billions but most of that worth isn’t in liquid assets. If Arthur Blank sells a bunch of Home Depot stock to donate $5 million cash, there is a decent chance that does more harm than good for society as home depot’s stock probably plummets and maybe their credit rating goes down. Then they might need to lay off workers.

    Not saying they can’t or shouldn’t be donating more. But your comparison ignores the fact that wealth is very different than cash. See Art Modell being forced to sell to Bisciotti as a good example of the difference between wealth and liquidity.
    ———————————

    These teams write off $10-12M in dead money that they gave to bust signings. The team/corporation can donate $5M and write it off as charitable donations. Remember, the individual teams pay taxes, just not the NFL as a sanctioning body.

  10. Fully agree with Mr. Florio. No reason most of the owners and high ranking players can’t give more. Granted, what it gets used for (or not used for) is a whole other matter.

  11. I’m curious… When all these people and organizations “donate” all this money to the COVID cause, WHO exactly are they giving the money to?

    Seriously. To the government? That would be a tragic waste. To the WHO? Another tragic waste flushed down the toilet of a massive bureaucratic organization.

    WHERE exactly is are all these millions of $$$ going?

  12. Every taxpayer is writing a big check. An additional 6 trillion taxpayer dollars added to our debt.

  13. factschecker says:
    March 27, 2020 at 11:08 am
    Help the taxpayers that paid to build their multi million dollar luxury stadiums.

    I’ll never wrap my head around how that is still a thing in this country. Now we build mega warehouses with tax payer funds for mega wealthy corporations like Amazon (who themselves pay no income taxes) We are a mess.
    ///////
    The municipalities decided that. Of their own free will. 32 NFL cities in this country of almost 20,000 cities. Pretty easy to move if you don’t like how your city or county or state spends money.

  14. Thank you Mike, a much needed post & reminder to the Owners and Executive of the NFL community.

    The combined wealth of the NFL owners easily exceeds 100 billion dollars. They have essentially donated less than .035% (not even 1%?) of their net income to help out, they should be ashamed!

  15. kevo126 says:
    March 27, 2020 at 10:38 am
    $5 million cash is a lot of cash. Players like Drew Brees get huge salaries. A lot of owners don’t really work/earn a salary. Sure they are all worth billions but most of that worth isn’t in liquid assets. If Arthur Blank sells a bunch of Home Depot stock to donate $5 million cash, there is a decent chance that does more harm than good for society as home depot’s stock probably plummets and maybe their credit rating goes down. Then they might need to lay off workers.

    Not saying they can’t or shouldn’t be donating more. But your comparison ignores the fact that wealth is very different than cash. See Art Modell being forced to sell to Bisciotti as a good example of the difference between wealth and liquidity
    ____________________________________________

    You have got to be kidding me!!! Do you really think ANY of the NFL owners couldn’t lay their hands on $10 million in about 2 minutes if they wanted to? Been a long time since Modell had to sell. They are all now billionaires many times over with access to lots and lots of cash.

  16. Personally, I don’t think donations need to be publicized. To me, it looks like they’re looking for praise and seeing a multi-millionaire or billionaire giving less than 1% of their net worth does not inspire me to give anything. It just makes me mad that they couldn’t give more, because their 1% is much more than mine would be and they don’t even notice it’s gone, but it would actually affect me and most regular people.

  17. Tepper donated 2.6 million. He made over 1 billion with his hedge fund in 2019 not to mention whatever profit that the Panthers generated. SMH

  18. Get em Mike! Publicity about the lack of charity (to date) from these billionairs, will force them into action. With their season still ahead of us they will not want the negative publicity.

  19. I realize this is their money and they can do with it as the see fit. But when they publicize it, like I gave a million dollars, take it in perspective. A billionaire donating a million dollars is like an average middle class worker donating $25. Try not to pound your chest so hard big guys. You make billions of the masses, show some humility.

  20. “$5 million cash is a lot of cash. Players like Drew Brees get huge salaries. A lot of owners don’t really work/earn a salary.”

    —————————————

    $5 million amounts to a fifth of his current contract value-that is, the entire value including incentives and that is before it is taxed. So it’s a good bet that $5 million is actually more than 20% of Brees’ money for this contract.

    I am not saying that owners should feel obligated to commit a fifth of their earnings this year (you can’t demand charity, in my mind), but I am confident in saying that they will not do so. They don’t have to, but Blank’s donation at the time did stand out to me as being extremely generous. Steve Balmer, in the NBA, has also helped organize a large sum as well. No one should scoff at the $250,000 donations given out by the others, because they didn’t to give anything to begin with, but it is right to note the significance of Brees and Blank in what they did, and maybe worth wondering a bit why the NFL itself did not at least contribute more if the owners mostly would not.

  21. Maybe a lot of them are, people give all the time and don’t announce it to the world

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