No matter how much progress it appears the NFL is making in areas of social justice and no matter how much money it throws at these problems or how many times an owner verbally commits to support progressive causes like Black Lives Matter, research by The Athletic found that the league’s political action committee cash is overflowing to Republicans and thus, supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump.
PACs are organizations that pool money privately to influence elections or legislation — capped at $5,000 per individual contributor. The NFL has its own PAC, Gridiron, that is overseen by the league’s D.C. office. Owners also make political contributions separate from the PAC.
NFL Feeding The Republican Party’s Coffers
The Athletic found that this year, Gridiron has made 63 donations to 52 congresspeople, senators and political organizations. Of those contributions, 52 went to Republicans or Republican organizations.
Of 18 donations made since August, Gridiron has just one Democratic contribution, which was $1,000 to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.). According to Federal Election Commission filings, since January, Gridiron’s contributions to the GOP total $128,500 and contributions to Democrats total $58,000.
The league PAC, created in 2008, has raised over $855,777.35 through donations from 228 contributors since Jan. 1, 2019.
NFL Players Support Democratic Party
In addition to the league’s PAC, the NFL Players Association has its own: the NFLPA One Team PAC — the only PAC among sports unions. While the NFLPA sent the majority of its contributions to Democrats, over a third — 11 out of 31 — went to Republicans.
NFLPA 2020 donations total $82,500 — $32,500 of it went to Republicans. The NFLPA PAC has raised $366,675 since Jan. 1, 2019, through 651 donations; The Athletic found that most player donations are for less than $1,000.
Philosophical Divide Between Players & The League, Owners
There remains a significant cultural and political divide between the players and majority-white league offices. We already know where the majority of the owners stand. It’s the reason why Colin Kaepernick has been blackballed for bringing light to social injustice, systemic racism and police brutality — all very real and disturbing problems in America.
It’s the reason why Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin formed the Players Coalition — to address these social and systemic ills and create communication between players and owners. Usher in a new, unified front when it came to these issues.
These divides are fueled by race, wealth, and history of privilege and oppression that doesn’t allow these two groups to see eye to eye. As long as these philosophical differences exist along such segregated lines, the systemic problems crippling Black advancement in head coach and front office hirings will remain.
It appeared as if the concerns of NFL players were finally being listened to in the aftermath of COVID-19‘s debilitating effect on Black and Brown communities.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, admitted that the League made a mistake in the aftermath of more police murders leading to protests across the globe demanding that the corporate power brokers in politics, business and education start evening out the playing ground for Black people.
However, Kaepernick is still unemployed by the NFL and political parties that support the gains players are attempting to make on a social and business level are considered adversarial to the overall corporate and political agenda of the league and its owners.
Just follow the money trail. It’s all in the numbers.