(Richard Sherman photos courtesy of Seattle Seahawks)
By Ron Borges
Talk of Fame Network
Richard Sherman has a plan. It isn’t one the NFL will be too excited about.
The Seattle Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback has often been at odds with the powers that be in the NFL, but he recently proved once again the value of a Stanford education. Although Sherman graduated with a degree in communication, not economics, he recently made obvious that he understands both better than most.
Speaking on a Seattle radio station, Sherman was asked what he might do if he became President, and his reply was interesting. He first said he’d lower his taxes. If you’re in his tax bracket, who wouldn’t?
But then he said something more. He said he couldn’t understand how the national debt could be what it is considering how much money we pay in taxes. One suggestion he had to solve the problem was, well, thought provoking to say the least.
“I’d stop spending billions of taxpayer dollars on stadiums . . . maybe make the billionaires who actually benefit from them pay for them,’’ Sherman said. “That kind of seems like a system that would work for me.’’
The facts prove Sherman’s point is well taken. A 2015 report cited by Forbes indicated that since 1995, 29 of the 31 stadiums that house NFL teams received public subsidies for construction, renovation or both. In that same period, taxpayers spent nearly $7 billion subsidizing new NFL-stadium construction and renovation projects and funded more than half the construction cost of 12 stadiums from 1995-2013.
In Louisiana, one of the country’s poorest states, taxpayers have shelled out up to $6 million a year in subsidies to keep owner Tom Benson from moving the team elsewhere. That does not count the cost of rebuilding the Superdome, which reportedly cost the state and city nearly a billion dollars. Taxpayers paid for nearly everything, including leather seats in luxury suites, while the team keeps nearly all the revenue from its state-sponsored concrete theater. The state’s school system is one of the worst in the country.
In Minnesota, the story is much the same. The state legislature voted to allocate $506 million toward building the Vikings’ new stadium. At the same time this was happening Minnesota faced a shortfall of more than a billion dollars.
What was particularly telling was the report’s final conclusion, which read as follows: “Not only do taxpayer-subsidized stadiums harm the local economy and fail to benefit the hard-working Americans who pay for them, they also do not lead to improved success on the field.”
A case in point? Just two years ago, an additional $130 million was invested in the Bills’ Ralph Wilson Stadium. Of the $130 million, the state and county paid $95 million while the Bills pledged just $35 million. Buffalo hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999, but they work in a nice stadium.
Considering all that, Sherman’s idea didn’t seem absurd or far-fetched to me. Neither did one the NFL announced recently on a far more mundane issue.
It is now no longer enough for the referee to toss a coin. He actually has to flip it. This has been mandated for every coin flip … otherwise, one surmises the NFL concluded, it wouldn’t be a flip would it?
The change is clearly a response to the situation that arose in overtime of a playoff game between the Packers and Cardinals last year when referee Clete Blakeman decided his first coin toss before overtime wasn’t fair because the coin failed to flip. So he did it again.
That’s not ill-conceived. What’s ill-conceived is while the referee must re-flip the coin, the visiting team doesn’t get to re-call it. That makes about as much sense as giving taxpayers’ money to billionaires when you can’t pay your own bills, doesn’t it?