NFL: The Most Corrupt Sports League?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Whether you love the game of football or completely hate the idea of watching oversized men pound on each other, there is simply no denying that the National Football League is the king of professional sports in the United States of America. If you care to argue that statement, you should first consider the fact that the announcement of the punishments for a minor rules infraction in the NFL immediately became a bigger sports news story than the playoffs in the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association (which were going on at the same time).

The NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry. For 30-straight years, it has been the most popular professional sports league in America – by a wide margin. At the same time, the NFL may be the most corrupt and hypocritical business entity in the country. If a Fortune 500 company or any other billion dollar American corporation operated in a similar manner to the NFL, they would likely be facing extreme scrutiny from the media and the general public, they would almost surely be forced to deal with angry protestors, and they quite possibly could be forced out of business. The NFL on the other hand can get away with practically anything. Furthermore, with their enormous amounts of popularity throughout the country, and even the world, that will not be changing anytime soon.

At this point, you may be wondering what prompted us to drop such alarmingly serious accusations against the NFL. After all, this is the league that we spend loads of time covering, and will continue to do so. This is also the same league that all of us at The Sports Cheat Sheet devote multiple hours to every Sunday during the fall. You could even say that we are a part of the problem, but you cannot refute that the facts we are about to present will prove that our claims are spot on.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

We’ll kick things off by discussing the league’s obnoxiously hypocritical stance on player safety. The NFL continues to adopt new rules on a yearly basis that are designed to improve player safety, and they continue to publicly insist that the safety of their players is among their highest priorities. Yet the NFL fails to consider that the concept of teams having to play two games in a matter of five days directly contradicts the idea that they give a damn about the safety of their No. 1 asset – the players who have helped build the NFL into the billion dollar enterprise it is today. Imagine being in two severe car crashes in five days. That is what the NFL is putting its players through by continuing to schedule Thursday Night Football games.

Our next topic will be the pink gear that we see throughout the NFL on gamedays and in stores during the month of October. It would be easy to assume that the NFL would have it in their hearts to donate 100-percent of their net profits to the fight against the terrible disease. Well, those assumptions would be wrong. According to data obtained by Darren Rovell of ESPN, only 8.01-percent of the money consumers spend on pink NFL gear goes towards cancer research. The NFL takes 1.25-percent of all sales, and they take a much higher percentage when they are the direct retailer. Leave it to the NFL to make money off of a “philanthropic” cause.

Further evidence of hypocrisy and corruption can be found within the NFL’s rulebook and in their sponsorship practices. The use of Stick ‘Em – an adhesive designed to make catching the football easier – is now illegal and is punishable by a hefty fine. At the same time, the league allows players to wear gloves bearing the NFL shield that are actually stickier than Stick ‘Em. What’s disturbing about the whole situation is that the league is making a substantial sum of money by selling those same gloves in retail stores. Speaking of fines, how effective and fair can the league’s system for hitting players with fines be if it is completely arbitrary? It seems un-American to us. With a little help from Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, we will now elaborate on just how money hungry the NFL is. As Sherman famously pointed out, the league is quick to suspend players for alcohol abuse or receiving a DUI, but their biggest sponsor is Budweiser. Additionally, the league also believes they should have the power to tell players which headphones they can wear. The NFL has an exclusive sponsorship agreement with Bose, and has gone on to fine multiple players for wearing Beats headphones during pregame warm-ups and at press conferences.

As we conclude this article, we also thought it was important to point out that the NFL is the same league that has enough money to pay league Commissioner Roger Goodell $105 million from 2008 through 2012, but continues to nickel-and-dime its former players out of the healthcare they need to maintain a reasonable quality of life. It now looks like the NFL didn’t really enjoy Goodell’s salary going public. They have dropped their tax-exempt, non-profit status, making Goodell’s salary unavailable to the public. The league claims they made the move to avoid “distractions,” but we think it had more to do with their desire to avoid full transparency. At the end of the day, the NFL may truly be the most corrupt and hypocritical entity in America. But let’s face it, as long as we all continue to pour our hard-earned dollars into consuming all things related to the NFL, the league will continue to get away with anything they want.