Is John Elway calling for the NFL to lose its subsidies?

By David Sirota , written on February 3, 2014

From The News Desk

Is there finally a voice within the National Football League asking federal, state, and local governments to stop providing the league with a taxpayer-financed safety net? Maybe so, after yesterday's little-noticed comments by Hall of Fame quarterback and Denver Broncos executive John Elway.

In a Fox News interview just before his team was demolished in the Super Bowl, Elway was asked to explain why he is a staunch supporter of the Republican Party. Here's what he said:

I don’t believe in safety nets. Obviously, we’ve got to have some kind of safety nets. But I think my philosophy is when given the opportunity to go take advantage of that, I think that’s when you get the best out of people.
As Pando reported last week, the NFL is the beneficiary of one of the most lucrative taxpayer-funded social safety nets in the entire American economy. The league itself is exempted from paying taxes, and NFL teams receive on average $900 million in taxpayer subsidies every year. Elway's team has been the beneficiary of some of those subsidies through the taxpayer dollars that went into building the Broncos' own stadium.

Of course, despite Elway implying the opposite, being against this kind of safety net for major corporations is hardly Republican orthodoxy. Indeed, just consider one significant Republican Party constituency: NFL owners. They are both the biggest proponents of this corporate safety net and major Republican Party financiers.

That said, Republican US Senator Tom Coburn (OK) and Republican US Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT) are both leading a legislative fight against those  financiers in their own party. Specifically, they are pushing to eliminate at least part of the NFL's taxapayer-financed safety net.

Perhaps they now have a high-profile ally in the safety-net-hating John Elway. Though the NFL legend did give himself some wiggle room ("we’ve got to have some kind of safety nets"), he certainly implied that he is a staunch opponent of exactly the kind of perpetual bailouts and corporate welfare programs that subsidize the profits of his own league.

Image via Wikimedia.