Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Football Hall of Famer and Republican Donor John Elway Doesn't Support Hand-outs.. Except for the NFL

by Nomad

Football Hall of Famer John Elway doesn't believe in safety nets for the poor, but, like many a big bucks Republican contributor, he tends to ignore how much of his millionaire wealth originally came from his career with the tax-exempt, government-subsidized NFL.
Former American football quarterback and current General Manager and Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Denver Broncos, John Albert Elway, Jr. has made an ass embarrassment of himself in an Fox News interview. He explain his reason for voting Republican was that he didn't believe in "safety nets."
According to Raw Story:
In a interview on Fox News prior to Super Bowl XLVIII, host Chris Wallace pointed out that Elway was a “big Republican” who had contributed “a lot of money” to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.
“Why do you support the GOP?” Wallace wondered.

“Well, it goes to what my beliefs are,” Elway explained. “I believe that we’re giving the opportunity to succeed or not succeed.”
“I don’t believe in safety nets,” he continued. “Obviously, we’ve got to have some kind of safety nets. But I think my philosophy is when given the opportunity to go take advantage of that, I think that’s when you get the best out of people.”
What is the poor man trying to say?  
But hold up a second, didn't Romney say that he wasn't overly worried about the poor because there were safety nets? And these were sufficient then he- as (shudder) president would "fix" them. Well, at least, that's what Mitt Romney said publicly but, as we came to learn in the middle of his campaign, that's probably not what he was telling rich donors like Elway.

Through his career as a quarterback for the Denver Broncos of the NFL, Elway amassed a net worth of $145 million. In addition to that, Elway owns two restaurants in Colorado which are appropriately named "Elways". He previously owned five car dealerships, and is still the owner of two Toyota Scion dealerships.
With that kind of wealth, it's not difficult to understand his love for the GOP.
However, as many readers of the article were quick to point out, Elway might ought to reconsider his position about government handouts or at least keep mum about it. 

In October last year, The Atlantic article, "How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers," revealed some of the details about the ways the NFL benefits from its tax exempt status, its special arrangements for broadcasting and its sweetheart deals to fund and maintain stadiums. 
Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams.
Take stadiums for example.
Judith Grant Long, a Harvard University professor of urban planning, calculates that league-wide, 70 percent of the capital cost of NFL stadiums has been provided by taxpayers, not NFL owners. Many cities, counties, and states also pay the stadiums’ ongoing costs, by providing power, sewer services, other infrastructure, and stadium improvements.
Another source points the finger at Elway more directly:
The taxpayers of Denver paid $300 million for the stadium his team calls home. Which is a whopping 75 percent of the cost of construction. As a result, Elway’s team owns 100 percent of a beautiful stadium for which they paid only a 25 percent share to build. The money the Broncos saved (courtesy of Denver taxpayers) would have helped underwrite Elway’s $4 million-a-year salary when he was their quarterback — 20 years ago.
If you think that this tax-exempt revenue somehow goes back to the cities, then think again. 
In the NFL, cynicism about public money starts at the top. State laws and IRS rules generally forbid the use of nonprofit status as a subterfuge for personal enrichment. Yet according to the league’s annual Form 990, in 2011, the most recent year for which numbers are available, the NFL paid a total of almost $60 million to its leading five executives.
And it is not as though the NFL can't afford to pay its taxes.
Overall, the NFL will take in over $10 billion in revenue this year, and is expected to reach $25 billion within the next 15 years. The TV rights fees alone from CBS, NBC, FOX, and ESPN bring the league $7 billion annually. Needless to say, no other entity comes close in profit or popularity.
That's some nice loot. (Incidentally more information on the political debate about the NFL tax status can be found HERE.)

Using taxpayers to subsidize private profiteering has been around quite sometime. (George W. Bush made his first fortune this way with a shady stadium and baseball team deal in Texas.)
There are a few examples of happy endings, where government support has done good, General Motors for example. The same cannot be said for the NFL, says the author of the article. 
Public handouts for modern professional football never end and are never repaid. In return, the NFL creates nothing of social value—while setting bad examples, despite its protests to the contrary, regarding concussions, painkiller misuse, weight gain, and cheating, among other issues. ... Worse, the sport setting the bad example is subsidized up one side and down the other.
Added to that, professional sports has undermined the higher education system in a variety of noxious ways. That's a subject we looked at in the past.

As far as Elway, the rule is simple. Every time a rich Republican donor talks about not believing in safety nets and how people really ought to work harder instead of relying on the government, it's a good idea to dig a bit deeper on how much their road to success was actually paid for by taxpayers.