Taxpayers fund stadiums of the National Football League, broadcast deals escape antitrust laws, the NFL is technically a 501/c/6 "non-profit," and commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million yearly, says the October Atlantic in an article titled, "How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers."
"It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league -- and to the feudal lords who own its teams," says a subhead of the piece written by Gregg Easterbrook.
One part tells how the NFL, although a "non-profit," tried to evade a section of the non-profit law that calls for pay packages of top executives to be in the 990 tax return.
A lobbying battle took place after non-profit disclosure rules were strengthened in which the NFL sought an exemption.
Among those leading the fight was Joe Browne, executive VP of communications and public affairs. He was the longest-serving employee of the NFL, having been with it since 1965.
Browne Claimed $150K (But Made $2M)
Browne, according to the Atlantic, claimed a salary of only $150,000 in 2008 but the 990 revealed his pay package was about $2 million.
This is the passage in the Atlantic:
"Browne told The New York Times, 'I finally get to the point where I'm making 150 grand, and they want to put my name and address on the [disclosure] form so the lawyer next door who makes a million dollars a year can laugh at me.' Browne added that $150,000 does not buy in the New York area what it would in Dubuque, Iowa. The waiver was denied. Left no option, the NFL revealed that at the time, Browne made about $2 million annually."
Browne, currently a senior advisor to Goodell, remains involved with NFL Congressional and other political issues in Washington as well as local legislative matters in NFL markets. He is also active in NFL Charities, USA Football, and the NFL Youth Football Fund.
He lives with his wife Karyn and two sons on Long Island.
A native New Yorker, he was the first scholarship basketball player at Archbishop Molloy High School in Brooklyn Heights.
His duties included generating publicity for the Super Bowl, which the NFL says is the most popular one-day sporting event in North America.
Easterbrook writes that the 12 NFL teams have made a profit on their stadium subsidies alone, receiving more money than needed to build their facilities.
NFL got its 501/c/6 status in the 1960s when Congress gave antitrust waivers to the NFL and American Football League. They were allowed to merge and have a common draft, and jointly auction TV rights.
Easterbrook feels the merger was good for football while "stabilizing" it while ensuring quality of competition, but that Congress "gave away the store while getting almost nothing for the public in return."
Greg Aiello is currently senior VP-PR. The NFL and Browne have been asked if they have any comment on the Atlantic article.