| Opinion/The Review

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Fleecing America: Rein in the NFL

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Public stadium subsidies and tax breaks worth about $1 billion annually are just the tip of the iceberg that is the NFL's fleecing of taxpayers.

Excerpting his book “The King of Sports” for The Atlantic, Gregg Easterbrook reminds how the Pittsburgh Steelers benefited from about $260 million in taxpayer funding to build Heinz Field and retire Three Rivers Stadium debt. They're also keeping $75 million for naming rights, plus most game-day revenues.

NFL franchises are for-profit businesses. But the league itself is technically a nonprofit — with an antitrust exemption.

Legislation passed during the 1960s lets the NFL negotiate TV rights, worth $4 billion this year, as a monopoly — and defined “professional football leagues” as nonprofits.

Mr. Easterbrook says this “has saved the NFL uncounted millions in tax obligations, which means that ordinary people must pay higher taxes, public spending must decline, or the national debt must increase to make up for the shortfall.”

What's to be done? Easterbrook urges revoking that nonprofit status and ending NFL owners' practice of “creating game images in publicly funded stadiums, broadcasting the images over public airwaves, and then keeping all the money they receive as a result.”

That would require Congress, as well as municipal and state officials, to correct priorities long out of order. But as Easterbrook also reminds, “Public handouts for modern professional football never end and are never repaid.”

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Editorials

  1. Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
  2. Greensburg Laurels & Lances
  3. The Brady affair: Contract law
  4. Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances
  5. Regional growth
  6. The wind ruse: A failed policy
  7. At the VA: The waiting dead
  8. Saturday essay: Dog days bark
  9. Sunday pops
  10. Mon-Yough Tuesday takes
  11. Intrepid salute