UPDATE (4:45 PM EST): Per NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, "... the fact is NO player fine money is used by NFL Charities to fund Player Foundation grants ... Player fine money each year is used to support retired players via NFL Player Care Foundation and NFLPA Players Assistance Trust." Aiello also added that "Those funds come from NFL clubs."
Aiello's clarification, if accurate, debunks one of the issues regarding the publicized distribution of this financial data (and ruins a perfectly good IRS analogy, sigh). But at the risk of sounding like I'm asking the NFL to, ahem, "open the books," it's still pretty cut-and-dry on the NFL Charities website as to how they bring in revenue, but not as clear on the distribution.
Earlier today, we told you that NFL Charities, the charitable arm of the NFL, donated $1 million to 87 different NFL players' charities.
We also noted that there was a slight reason to be skeptical, since two of the named players in the press release -- Drew Brees and Peyton Manning -- are also named plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the NFL.
Here's another reason to cast a wary eye towards this highly-publicized, albeit highly-charitable, donation: NFL Charities draws, according to their own website, $2 million in funding from on-field hits during the NFL season.
NFL Charities has traditionally donated funds to charitable causes from annual revenues generated by on-field disciplinary fines levied against players and coaches. This on-field fine money has netted more than $2 million per year for distribution to a variety of worthwhile charitable organizations over the last four years.The website also notes that "one-quarter of the total fine money received by NFL Charities each year is donated to support former players in need through the NFL Player Association's Player Assistance Trust (PAT)."
So, that's great, because those former players do need help, particularly in medical assistance through financial donations.
But, with all do respect to NFL Charities and at the risk of making an analogy that will remind you April 15th is on the horizon, that's a bit like the IRS taking the money I owe them in taxes each year, donating it to charity and then issuing a press release to let everyone know that they donated money to a charity like The V Foundation, which I already support with my own money.
For instance, James Harrison got tagged for a $20,000 fine when the Steelers played the Saints on Halloween ... for hitting Drew Brees. Brees' foundation, obviously, received some of that money.
This isn't me poo-poo'ing philanthropy, and I'm sure that the Brees Foundation appreciates the money going to a good cause.
But the fact that money -- and a lot of money, in fact -- that comes from the players' pockets is being used to help fund donations back to the players seems like something worth recognizing.
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