If the NFL is A Nonprofit, I’d Like to See What Profit Looks Like

Did you know that the NFL is a registered nonprofit organization with tax exempt status? While most nonprofits can’t create the market to sell a 30 second Super Bowl commercial for $4 million, there must be some good reason why the NFL qualifies for the tax breaks afforded the nonprofit sector.

Could it be all the people they employ and the job security they provide?  This must be where the billions in revenue are going. From the players to the cheerleaders…well wait a second. It just came out last week that allegedly the Raiders cheerleaders get less than $5 per hour and they are suing the Raiders.  For some reason, the Raider cheerleaders do not get paid at all during the season; they receive their boat load of cash at season’s end.  Strange practice from a league that in 2011 signed television deals worth $27 billion! One can only guess that as we speak, the cheerleaders are creating a special cheer and dance for when the NFL gets served with their lawsuit.

Of the three major sports, the NFL provides its players with the least security, whether job security or even physical security.  The only guaranteed money most NFL players receive is what they receive in their signing bonus.  And they can be released at any time, including for injury, as this guy was released after having a seizure.  The physical danger that NFL players face is being researched right now by leading minds: the NFL Players Association and Harvard University are working together on a $100 million study of concussions and the health of players.  One fact revealed in this study is that NFL players tend to live only to their mid to late 50’s.  There are many factors which contribute to this, but it is rather shocking.  As the Boston Globe reports on the Harvard Study:

The result is a dramatically shortened life span. While white men in the United States on average live to age 78 and African-American men to about 70, “it appears that professional football players in both the United States and Canada have life expectancies in the mid- to late-50s.”

I’m not sure how many nonprofits get subsidized for taking the spirit out of their cheerleaders to the point of a class action lawsuit or precipitating a study on why their workers have short life spans, but at least the NFL does have what they claim is a general pension plan for their players.

Any player who is on the active roster for just three games qualifies for the pension and receives $1,275 per month starting at age 55.  This then grows based on games played.  A “10-year veteran who retired in 1998 would receive $51,000 a year,” according NFL Players Association Web site.  This $51,000 is less than a third of a 10-year Major League Baseball player’s pension.  This does not make sense considering football is the most popular and lucrative sport in our country.

Here is the real kicker, and it took the hard hitting respectable news organization TMZ to point it out.   Former New York Giants running back Derrick Ward came out and said that that the NFL does not care about former players. You could say that he has his pension to look forward to.  But the pension is not available to NFL players until their average lifespan is over!

Retirement age for most jobs is in the 60’s.  But in the NFL, is it rare for a player to be able to keep playing even until age 35. And remember, NFL players are drafted out of college, with little if any job training. These guys need their pensions way before age 55. They need their pensions when they get cut after having a seizure or something.

I’ll bet there are NFL employees who purposely crafted this very strategic pension plan, probably the same ones who applied for the nonprofit status.

Enjoy the ‘not for profit’ NFL Super Bowl commercials!

The only thing that is more ridiculous than commercials featuring talking animals is how the NFL runs its business.  Only in the case of the NFL, it’s way less cute.


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