The NFL Is Organized Crime Without Weapons….

Marc Elliott

LEWISTON ME….  I am out here on the coast over the weekend and in this area lets just say that moose and maple syrup are pretty popular. There was also a pretty big prize fight here once, and it turned out to be somewhat controversial at that. This town was the site for the Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston rematch. If you don’t know, Ali knocked out Liston in the 1st round causing many anti-Ali boxing fans to say the fight was fixed and so forth. After seeing the replays many times, I just believe that Ali really tagged him and that was that. I recall that the very next Wide World of Sports broadcast right after the match took place had my father, brother and I glued to the TV set. On Saturday afternoons WWOS was the original “must see” TV, no questions asked. The controversy raged on for some time.

Controversy will also rage on for some time down in the Gateway City. Last week the National Football League did go ahead with a vote granting the St. Louis Rams permission to relocate to Los Angeles. The finger pointing and angst kicked off almost immediately. Local politicians and sports media pointed their fingers toward Rams owner Stan Kroenke and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and they did their level best to not answer questions with any change of voice inflection and basically couldn’t wait until a very uncomfortable press conference was over. Undoubtedly they got out of that room, exhaled deeply, slapped each other on the back and let out a fairly big laugh.

And why shouldn’t they? The NFL, Goodell and yet another elitist team owner have once again played the old “build us a stadium game” or we will have to relocate and once again they have won with little care or concern for the fan base they are tinkling on. The funny thing is, is that they never wanted or would accept ANY stadium upgrade or new construction from the St. Louis contingent. Relocating was the priority all along. In Kroenke’s defense, it appears that he is financing the LA project himself. There were some twists and turns in this entire situation to be certain, but the end result is still the same; the league and the owner are getting what they want and after feigning some sort of phony empathy for the left behind fans, they are gone.

As I have stated before, the owner in question is the one who took the risk and made the investment so I believe that he can do what he desires with the club, and relocating it to where he wants it to be has to be included on that list. As distasteful as I find the entire relocation scenario, it is his business. However, yes, there is one giant “however”, when you ask the taxpayers of a community or state to financially participate in your operation I believe you owe that community and state, and it’s fans some sort of loyalty back in return. That’s where this entire sordid affair goes off of the rails for me. Not to mention I have seen the NFL play this game way too many times.

Some 20 years back the Rams wanted out of Los Angeles, they were playing in a pretty aged and decrepit Los Angeles Coliseum (guess where they will play their first 3 seasons back) and the fair citizens of that burg were neither that enthused about a poorly performing team or about building a new stadium for them, so they left. On the heels of losing the football Cardinals to Arizona, STL got a stadium project together and the Rams came to “the Lou“.  Somewhere along the line, I don’t know when, a relocation “out” clause got worked into the teams lease at the Edward Jones Dome. By the way, the EJD was a nice stadium when it opened, and it is still a nice stadium now, it just doesn’t possess all of the fancy bells and whistles the league DEMANDS for it’s teams now.

For me, that would be warning signal number one. There were more to follow, the STL powers that be didn’t exactly do a sterling job placating theses elitist hoods and it didn’t matter to the NFL boys anyway, they were a-goin’ westward. Without dissecting the minutiae, it is time to call this shell game the league plays with it’s team’s cities and their fans what it is; taxpayer/fan blackmail and extortion. The NFL is an organized crime operation and they do what they do without having to brandish any weapons. Well at least not the ones you would normally associate with criminals.

For my fellow Minnesotans, it wasn’t that long back that the league and the Viking owners were dangling that Los Angeles Vikings thing in front of us lest the fans and State didn’t cave in to their whining for a new stadium. Who won that one? Zygi Wilf kept “upping” his ante to smooth matters over and the deal was done. The dichotomy is that Wilf will cover his portion of funding with stadium “naming rights” and personal seat licenses. He will be removing very little of his own do-re-mi from his bank account. But he will reap big benefits. The value of the club post new stadium build looks to increase the net worth of it by as much as three quarters of a billion dollars.

The most distasteful day in that whole sorry saga was when Wilf trotted out Goodell to a Twin Cities press conference to reiterate what “might happen” if the team could not get a new stadium. And Vikings fans, you need to know this and remember it; if they didn’t get their stadium deal here, they would have dumped you in a heartbeat. That’s right, forget your 50 plus years of loyalty and dedication to this team, they would have defecated upon you just like they did to STL last week, and they wouldn’t bat an eyelash.

If it were my call, I would get legislation passed nationwide banning this league from anymore taxpayer welfare that they clearly don’t need. In addition, it’s time to revoke their non-profit tax status. Yup, that’s right, they are classified as a non-profit business for the purpose of tax evasion. Think about that, you and I pay more taxes then the NFL. Think about that too the next time you chug a $10 can of beer at an NFL game. Non-profit? Right…. PEACE

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