Monthly Archives: September 2013

Eagles Defenders Tried to Disrupt Peyton Manning Audibles By Yelling “Papa Johns!”

What I wouldn’t give to be a blade of grass near the line of scrimmage at an NFL game. (One that’s far enough away to not get completely crushed under the several tons of human that crash into one another, but close enough to hear what goes on prior to the snap that doesn’t quite get picked up by those booming mic satellite looking things.) Because if I were, I’d be able to hear things like this.

In the midst of getting absolutely pounded by the Denver Broncos on Sunday—something that I’m still in the process of glossing over, trying to strike it from memory—at least one Philadelphia Eagles defender tried to disrupt Peyton Manning’s pre-snap audibles by shouting “Papa Johns!” Peyton and the Papa, if you weren’t aware and living off the grid for the past several years, have had quite the business relationship. The middle-Manning has appeared in several commercials, like this gem…

…and has even invested some of his millions of dollars in Papa John’s franchises.

Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin explained the taunting to 91WIP this morning:

“Well I know—I think I might have heard Papa John’s once, but I don’t know who said it, I mean that’s kind of funny. When any quarterback goes and talks at the line or any center, they start yelling ‘Mike’s 59′ or ’98′s the 4th down’ where they try to figure out the protection, we, on defense, we start, like I’ll say—if they start yelling ’98′s down, meaning I’m the fourth rusher, I’ll start yelling ’59′s down’ because it just confuses them. We can say, we tell the referee that we’re changing who our fourth is upon what they say. So that kind of stuff happens all the time when quarterbacks are making calls and defenses are trying to make calls back.”

Barwin then tried to sooth my soul by talking about how things are going to get better for the 1-3 Eagles, who still, somehow, are second in the division:

“We played four games, we’re 1-3. We’re not where we want to be, but what are we, one game out of our division? So there’s a lot of football to be played. We knew there was going to be some wrinkles we had to get through this year, but obviously you lose three straight it’s really hard on guys. I think it’s important for myself and other leaders on this team to make sure guys stick together and not start blaming or creating issues that aren’t there,” Barwin said.  “You have to take it one game at a time, but if we win next week and somebody loses we could be tied for first place in the division. We’re all very conscious of that, and we also know—that game yesterday got out of hand obviously, but if you look at other games we understand this is the NFL. It’s a few plays every single game. We could easily be sitting here at 3-1 instead of 1-3. If we switched these plays and make a couple more plays than we’re doing right now, we can get this thing turned around quickly.”

The Eagles travel to the Meadowlands to take on the still-winless Giants next Sunday.

The NFL, a Tax-Exempt Organization? You Bet

I wrote this little doohickie almost a year ago—the last time Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) presented his government “Wastebook” as he calls it. And as Congress looks for ways to increase revenues and cut spending (or something like that), the topic of the money making machine’s tax-status has come up again, so I thought it’d be prudent to re-post it here. Enjoy.

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Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code provides for the exemption of business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues, which are not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

So reads the website of the Internal Revenue Service.

Does anything strike you as odd in that statement? It should.

Three simple words in the IRS’s Internal Revenue Code, “professional football leagues,” effectively classifies the National Football League as a nonprofit (my ass), tax-exempt, entity. It doesn’t say professional sports leagues. Just football—though the PGA has achieved nonprofit status as well.

According to a Business Insider article, this has to do with “lobbying efforts by Pete Rozelle in the 1960’s to earn an antitrust exemption for the merger of the NFL and the AFL.” These exemptions were attached to a bill that was going to easily pass through Congress and had absolutely nothing to do with football.

More from the IRS on how these tax-exempt leagues are expected to operate:

To be exempt, a business league’s activities must be devoted to improving business conditions of one or more lines of business as distinguished from performing particular services for individual persons. (Ask the retired players, and even come current ones how this is going one two years removed from a lockout and countless lawsuits over player benefits and health issues.) No part of a business league’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual and it may not be organized for profit to engage in an activity ordinarily carried on for profit (even if the business is operated on a cooperative basis or produces only enough income to be self-sustaining).

It’s hard to fathom how an operation like the NFL, which generated somewhere around $9 BILLION in revenue last season, could comply with those expectations.

According to the NFL’s Form 990 filings—the forms that nonprofits file with the IRS, and are available to the public, with financial information about the organization—the league operated in the red for at least the last two years.

How?

The Nonprofit Law Blog explains that nonprofits may not be required to pay taxes on related income, revenue earned from the sale of goods and services. Unrelated business income can be taxed, though, and the blog describes such income as such:

  • a trade or business
  • regularly carried on
  • not substantially related to the organization’s exempt purpose

So the $9 billion in revenue isn’t figured into the league’s operating costs, and that’s how you get the $42.3 million in revenue and $52.2 million operating deficits. And, on a separate but related and awfully surprising note, Roger Goodell’s eight-figure salary accounted for a quarter of the operating deficit each year. Further, the total compensation of the league’s eight paid executives (which includes Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was compensated over $8.5 million and worked an average of 0 hours a week, which makes sense considering he’s retired) basically made up the entire operating deficit.

Can you hear me gagging through my words?

The NFL skates by having that $9 billion classified as business-related income. It’s sickening.

Not long ago, I looked at a Forbes article on the worth of the League’s teams. The 32 “members” of the NFL, on average, are worth about $1 billion—two thirds of the teams are worth over $1 billion, and “America’s Team” is worth just north of $2 billion.

So much money is involved in this league, it’s amazing. Having not known about this, it completely changes the way I look at the business of the league. It makes the whole lockout-that-was situation look even worse if you ask me. How could the NFL be OK with this? Better yet, with all of the focus on the economy, wasteful spending, and finding new revenue, how has the government allowed this to continue?

According to Rick Cohen of Nonprofit Quarterly, one Senator is hoping to put an end to the NFL’s tax-exempt status.

Cohen looks at Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) 2012 edition of his annual “Wastebook” on government-allowed pork. In Cohen’s “Wastebook” he points to “the $91 million provided by American taxpayers for allowing the NFL and the National Hockey League—yea I just learned this one too—to classify themselves as nonprofit organizations.”

“It’s hard to countenance the idea of high rollers at the NFL using their (c)(6) tax exemptions at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis to avoid paying taxes for hotel rooms, meals, auto rentals, and even fuel, as the Wastebook says they did,” says Cohen.

Greed just runs rampant through the NFL, and it’s starting to become a real turnoff. While the league has a nice thing going in the Play 60 program, I can’t think of much else that would put it on the same level as a, say, an Alzheimer’s Association, or American Cancer Society, or the Red Cross.

What say you, readers, on the tax-exempt status of the organization that rules your Sundays, and Monday nights, and Thursday nights (for those that pay for their network)? Should it stay, or does it need to change?

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All still relevant, wouldn’t you say?

A Reader Complained About My Response to 49ers Fans Complaining About the Noise in Seattle

I wrote not long about about a few San Francisco 49ers fans who complained to their local paper about the noise level in Seattle (for which the 12th Man in Seattle set a new Guinness World Record, PS). Turns out, said 49ers fans weren’t finished complaining. Some troll who chose the cute pen name “play for real” took to the comments on that post to voice his displeasure with my analysis:

Why “don’t we be as noisy as shit and go support our team?”
I personally will not embarrass my team by acting that way.It is truly out of control,unsportsman like and not the way I grew going to a football game. Sadly for the Seattle Seahawks,after years of finally earning the title of a reputable team,it is clear that the obnoxious noise from the “twelve man” is only going to take away from all of the progress they have made as a team. I truly do feel bad for the team. It does appear that is what is needed in order for Seattle to win a game. I am all for screaming and supporting your team..but this is way, way ,way past the point. I guess all the rain has finally fogged your common sense. Definitely not a family affair in Seattle…what a shame.Leave the adolescents at home and spare them the agaony… As I promised my daughter~,someday I will take you back East so you can watch a real football game.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but let me offer this rebuttal:

Dear, play for real,

Embarrassed? It’s not like you’re at a golf major where the most emotion anyone shows is a light clap or a softly whispered “Aw shucks.” You’re at a football game, watching a sport that’s inherently violent—that’s not to say that you ought to be violent and do something stupid, but it’s every fan’s right (and duty if you ask me) to show some emotion.

As for the Seahawks, I’m not sure which NFL you’ve been watching, but I think they’d still be doing pretty well without the 12th Man. They’re marching the league’s best defense out there on a weekly basis, holding teams (including the 49ers, who I’m guessing you root for?) to less than 10 pts a game, and have forced double digit turnovers just 3 games into the season. And don’t forget about the offense which ranks 4th in pts per game (28.7), 10th in yards per play (5.8) and 2nd in turnover margin (+6). I don’t know of any data anywhere that’ll prove just how much the noise factor plays into those numbers, but I’m guessing it’s not a whole lot (and if it does, then hell good for the fans for making a difference).

And about showing your daughter a “real football game” back east—I’m not sure where exactly you’d take her, but you may want to avoid places like Philly, New York (when the Giants are in town), New England, Atlanta, and maybe even Miami this year, because I’d put money on the fact that those stadiums might not be as loud, but they can be just as rowdy, maybe even moreso than CenturyLink Stadium. I guess that leaves Carolina? (I’ll just assume that you wouldn’t even consider going to Jacksonville.) Have fun there…

Sincerely,

Rob

Video

Fantasy Football Preview: Week 4

Welcome to Fantasy Football Preview volume 1, chapter 2.

We finally welcome to the set the third member of the fantasy guru trio, Max Parker. Join us as we dive deep into the waiver wire for Week 4 of fantasy football.

Rashad Johnson’s Interview Brought Me This Close To Passing Out

Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson has been in exceptionally high spirits since losing the tip of his left middle finger in last week’s game against the New Orleans Saints. (Just typing that last part out makes the sphincter clench just a little.) He’s even been having fun with the injury, Picstitching (pun not really intended, but I’ll take it) some photos of the aftermath, and supporting the team’s idea for an upcoming promotion:

That’s all great for him, and I’m glad he’s going to be able to continue his football career and all that, but holy shit did he make me almost pass out talking about the incident on the Dan Patrick Show. (If you don’t do well with these kinds of things, I beg you to please just click away before going any further.)

….

Last chance…

….

OK, now, for those still with me…

Johnson talked about the initial pain of the injury setting in, about the options given to him by the doc to either shave the bone down past the nail or let it be and risk an infection, and about where the fate of the missing fingertip.

Horrible, gruesome stuff. I’m gonna go throw up while you watch this.

 

NFL Week 4 Picks

Well. To say last week was a rough one for this man’s picks would be an extreme understatement—took a few chances, and they didn’t pay off. Either way, I’ll take 8-8, 29-19 overall, and look to improve moving forward. Seems almost everyone had a rough week at ESPN as well, so I’ll consider it a small win.

Here’s to a much improved Week 4.

San Francisco 49ers (-3) @ St. Louis Rams, Thursday, 8:25pm

Of the six NFC teams to make the playoffs last year—relevant because San Fran was one of them—only one has a winning record through three weeks (Seattle at 3-0). Just goes to show, despite how much we think we know, this game is truly unpredictable. The 49ers are coming off of a second straight clunking, and Jim Harbaugh has his first losing record since becoming head coach. They should (should!) right the ship against a Rams defense that ranks 26th in the league, giving up 393 yards per game. San Fran will be without Aldon Smith for the foreseeable future, which could be a factor, but not in this game. 49ers win 20-16

Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) @ Buffalo Bills, 1pm

E.J. Manuel staged an impressive comeback for the second week in a row, but fell just short against the division-rival Jets. This week, he gets to go up against a defense that, since being embarrassed by Peyton Manning on opening night, hasn’t given up a touchdown. The offense still has some work to do (doesn’t it always in Baltimore?), and could struggle again against a team that nearly beat the Patriots at home and hasn’t left the state of New York since the season began (technically they were in East Rutherford, NJ, last week, but that part of the state is essentially owned by New York anyway, so we’ll let it slide). Ravens win 28-20

Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) @ Cleveland Browns, 1pm

The Browns can’t even tank the right way… The same week they traded their first-round pick from a year ago (a move that was seen as a white flag just two weeks into 2013), they went out and grabbed their first win of the season on the road at Minnesota. Brian Hoyer was pretty impressive in his first start, but maybe just a little beginner’s luck? If tanking actually is the goal, they should get back to form this week when Cincy comes to town, fresh off a dramatic come-from-behind-multiple-times-in-the-same-quarter against the Packers. This is one of the most evenly contested AFC North rivalries, but Cincy’s won four of the last five and I like them to take control of this division. Bengals win 27-24

Chicago Bears (+2.5) @ Detroit Lions, 1pm

Detroit pulled off their first win in Washington in franchise history last week (they’re 1-21 now all-time), and they did so without Reggie Bush. Bush says he’ll be ready Sunday, and it’ll be a much needed boost against a Bears team that has been on a roll to start the season. Defense has played a roll in this stat, but the Bears are averaging just under 32 points per game which ranks behind only Denver and Green Bay. They’re also the second-least penalized team in the league—Detroit’s put some points on the board, but have really hurt themselves in the yellow-flag category, and in divisional contests, those kinds of things usually make a difference. Bears win 23-17

New York Giants (+4.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs, 1pm

Andy Reid has never started a season 4-0. He’ll look to do that against a team he’s incredibly familiar with in the New York Giants. This Giants team, though, is unlike anything Reid saw in his 14 seasons in Philly—they are dead last in the league in turnover differential (-9), and Eli Manning is on pace for some career lows in nearly every category, except interceptions, which he may set an NFL record for at this rate (8 through 3 weeks). The line is giving the G-Men way too much credit on the road. Chiefs win 30-14

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1) @ Minnesota Vikings, 1pm EST

Looking at the schedule a month ago, this was a game that would’ve excited many. Had you told me both sides would be 0-3, I’d have thought you were crazy. Well, turns out you would have been right. Both clubs have put themselves in an incredibly tough position going forward, and now they both have to travel halfway around the globe in search of their first win. But at least one team has some semblance of an offense. The other is putting too much pressure on an aging defense, and is one more loss away from changing the professional titles of a few individuals (cough, Todd Haley, cough). Maybe this is the week we see the first coaching casualty of the season? (Ben’s total sacks tracker: 10) Vikings win 3-2 (in honor of playing at Wembley)

Arizona Cardinals (+3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1pm

Something’s going to have to give in a couple areas this week for these teams. Josh Freeman’s 45.3 percent completion percentage is the worst in the NFL, but he’s going up against a Cardinals team that has allowed the 8th highest completion percentage (66.7), 7th most passing yards per game this season (297), and 3rd most passing TDs (7). The Bucs as a whole rank second-to-last in total offense (11.3 pts, 282 yds), though they’ve gone against some tough defenses. The Cards have faired well against the run, but have been less-than-average overall, giving up 26 points per game—22nd in the league. They also haven’t won on the road in over a year. This might be their best chance, but the gut tells me Freeman gets it together for at least a week. Bucs win 26-24 (Revision: The Bucs announced on Wednesday that they would be benching Josh Freeman [who’s probably going to be traded in the very near future] in favor of rookie QB Mike Glennon. That changes a lot of things, including my pick. Glennon has received high marks since being drafted in April, but this is a rough situation to get thrown into. He could show some beginners luck, especially going up against a team with the passing numbers I laid out above, but there are distractions galore in Tampa Bay leading up to this game. Cardinals win 24-16)

Indianapolis Colts (-8.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 1pm

Playing @ San Fran > Playing @ Duval… Colts win 34-12

Seattle Seahawks (-3) @ Houston Texans, 1pm

A damn shame that this one isn’t in prime time. This is easily the matchup of the day with the two of the best defenses in the game squaring off—literally, Seattle’s #1, Houston’s #2. The two have faced off twice (in their current state’s), with each holding serve at home in lopsided victories. In looking for the stat or stats that’ll make the difference, I offer this: The Seahawks are doing a much better job at creating turnovers—10 compared to Houston’s 2. Then there’s points per game; Seattle is holding opponents to just 9 points, while the Texans are allowing 27.3. One more; the Seahawks are holding opposing QBs to a rating of just 49.2, the best in the game. If these trends hold, Seattle should be able to walk away with this one. Seahawks win 20-17

New York Jets (+4) @ Tennessee Titans, 4:05pm

The Jets’ 2-1 record is deceiving if you ask me. They did their best to throw away the game last week with 20 penalties (2 shy of tying a league record) and their uncanny ability to let the Bills hang around for so long. Then there’s the Week 1 game they stole from the Bucs thanks to a incredibly stupid late-hit call. They’re a 1-2 team at best. Tennessee might be legit. They were able to put together two late drives—including a TD drive with :15 left on the clock—to beat San Diego. Their defense has kept them in games this season, giving up just 7 touchdowns through three games. They should do just fine against the rookie Geno Smith. Titans win 27-17

Philadelphia Eagles (+10.5) @ Denver Broncos, 4:25pm

I don’t want to get into it, but I pray they prove me wrong. Broncos win 38-23

Dallas Cowboys (-1.5) @ San Diego Chargers

The Cowboys that showed up last week against the Rams are the ‘Boys that everyone has been expecting for the last 5 years or so. Nice of them to finally arrive. It’s just a shame that it was against a Rams team that doesn’t fall under the category of “Elite” just yet. That’s not to say that the Chargers are elite, but I’d go with Philip Rivers over Sam Bradford any day of the week. For fantasy football purposes, I hope Demarco Murray can keep up the pace from a week ago (they’re giving up 5.1 yards per rush—4th highest), but that’s about all the good prayers I’ll be throwing Big-D’s way. Chargers win 23-17

Washington Redskins (-3) @ Oakland Raiders, 4:25pm

The RG 0-3’s travel west to take on a team that’s been known to serve up an upset or two per year on their home field. The way things have been going thus far in 2013 for Washington, this wouldn’t be that big of an upset—in fact, it might not be one at all. In this battle of the two worst pass-defenses, I’m forced to pick between the “resurgent” Terrell Pryor, and the “healthy” RGIII. This could end up being a shootout given how poorly both secondaries have look so far, but someone’s going to have to step it up. It might be the Philadelphian in me, but I’m so tempted to pick against the Skins here, but could they really follow up a season in which they won the NFC East with an 0-4 start? And in a week in which two entire divisions square off, could the NFC East drop all four games against the AFC West? Why the hell not? Raiders win 17-14

New England Patriots (+1.5) @ Atlanta Falcons, 8:30pm

Brady is starting to get *NSync in sync with his rookie receivers which could spell trouble for the AFC North and the league as a whole. Tompkins and Dobson are going to be getting quite the lesson, though, as they watch two guys by the name of White and Jones—who are dinged up but should be good to go—lead Atlanta’s passing attack. The runs are going to be few and far between in this one, which should make for an incredible watch. Tom Brady vs. Matt Ryan would typically lean one way consistently in the past, but the performance of the receiving core could make all the difference in this one. Falcons win 34-31

Miami Dolphins (+6.5) @ New Orleans Saints, Monday 8:30pm

So I guess we’re supposed to start taking the Miami Dolphins seriously? They’ve more than held their own through three weeks, knocking off the Falcons and Colts (who have since knocked of the 49ers, so through the transitive property the Dolphins are better than the Niners???) on top of their opening week victory at Cleveland. Their first serious serious test comes on Monday night when they head into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to face off against a Saints team with a MUCH improved defense than the historically bad group from a year ago. I think Miami is legit, but even legit teams struggle on the road in the Big Easy (see: Atlanta). Plus, who really thinks a guy named Ryan Tannehill is going to outduel Drew Brees? Saints win 34-30

Frat Bro’s Speech Is So Fratty

For the record, I’m an alumni Fraternity brother, and I don’t toss around the F-word that lightly, neither the one you see in the headline there or the one this guy in this video you’re about to see drops about 1,700 times.

That said, being a fraternity man, I know damn well when you’re staring at a frat boy.

Deadspin shared the original clip, which has since gone private (presumably due to the overwhelmingly fratty comments the video was getting on YouTube), but thankfully one of their readers scooped it up and gave it the Any Given Sunday treatment. Enjoy.