From the Hart: two suggestions for the NFL

NFL logoThe NFL and its contrite commissioner, Roger Goodell, are in full damage-control mode for the way they handled the Ray Rice domestic abuse case.

Goodell will survive this scandal. He admitted errors and will hire PR firms, probably one where a U.S. senator’s kids (like him) work and spend some of the NFL’s tax-free money for public service announcements on domestic violence. I presume the league will come out against it.

It was only under pressure from its $200-million-a-year sponsor Anheuser-Busch that the NFL attempted to do anything morally righteous. It is a sad day when a booze purveyor has to stake out the moral high ground for you.

This is a bit of a comeuppance for Goodell. According to its advertisers, the NFL is difficult to deal with. That’s the nature of a monopoly. Where else can Budweiser take its advertising business to reach the target audience of 18 to 34 year old men?

Goodell has dictatorially tinkered with some rules. He recently decreed that players can no longer celebrate TD’s by dunking the football over the goalpost crossbars. That was not smart. If Americans wanted to watch a professional sport with no dunking, we’d watch the WNBA.

Goodell also threatened to pull the Super Bowl from Arizona if the state enacted a bill allowing businesses to refuse service to gays. He didn’t follow through with his threat but the publicity dashed any hopes the state had of hosting the Tony Awards. The NFL feels that strongly homophobic attitudes should be confined to rap songs and its locker rooms.

No matter what you believe should have happened to Ray Rice, two things need to be done by, or to, the NFL.

1. Get rid of the NFL’s tax-exempt status. The massively profitable NFL is a nonprofit monopoly. Both its hugely profitable tax-exempt status and its antitrust exemption were bestowed by our esteemed elected officials in D.C. For those favors, and more, the NFL political action committee and NFL officials donated $1.4 million to members of Congress in the past two elections. The NFL hands out cash to politicians like “The Bachelor” hands out roses – with the same intentions.

How the NFL gained such antitrust status is as nefarious as Louisiana politics itself. Pete Rozelle, the NFL commissioner in the 1960s, was in cahoots with Sen. Russell Long of Louisiana. Long got him his antitrust exemption in return for an NFL franchise in New Orleans.

2. Cut NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s pay from $44 million to $1. If you are running a tax-exempt monopoly, you should not pay yourself $44 million. That’s absurd. Entrepreneurs, not a marginally talented monopoly executive, should make that kind of money.

Donate Goodell’s booty, or give it back to some of the cities the league has shaken down for stadium subsidies. Seventy percent of NFL stadiums are at least partly paid for by local taxpayers, yet all profits go to the NFL.

  Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com.

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