How seriously this will be taken when the Louisiana legislature goes back into session is a good question, but it looks like there could well be public policy considerations to the stupid stance the New Orleans Saints took in the weekend’s Trump/NFL controversy. State Rep. Kenny Havard (R-St. Francisville), who chairs the House Transportation Committee, is now making a play to reclaim the state’s subsidy money going to the Saints.
“The very reason (the Saints) have the privilege and opportunity to play professional football while being paid millions is because someone in uniform died protecting their right to do so,” Havard said. “It is a disgrace to the men and woman of this nation and state who have sacrificed so much.”
Havard’s statement didn’t specify the amount of state money that he proposed be diverted from the Saints the NFL. According to a 2015 Forbes story, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson was “set to rake in an estimated $392 million from state subsidies through 2025.”
“Disrespecting our national anthem and flag in the name of social injustice is the highest form of hypocrisy,” he said. “Our free society made possible by our fighting men and women has made available free education, free lunch, housing and free healthcare and is now be considered socially unjust.
“It is time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds. I believe in the right to protest but, not at a taxpayer subsidized sporting event. Do it on your own time. There are plenty of disabled children, elderly and veterans in this state that would appreciate the money.”
It was only a matter of time before the politics of the NFL going political would ensure blowback – and the league office should have damn well recognized that. The NFL has major exposure to its business model in the event Congress ever revisits its antitrust exemption, and the league makes millions, if not billions, thanks to tax breaks and sweetheart deals from state and local governments on publicly-funded facilities it enjoys.
So when it allows its idiot twentysomething players, freshly marinated from social justice warrior academies disguised as sociology, criminal justice, African-American Studies and other pseudo-academic departments at major colleges, to bring political activism to sidelines of games the NFL is no longer entertainment for everyone. It is now contributing to the cultural divide rather than helping to heal it.
The league office and the owners should have recognized this and put a stop to the disrespect of the national anthem, because the Kenny Havards of the world were going to follow shortly after. And now Havard is only the first; there will be many more after him.
Will Havard succeed in draining subsidy money from the Saints? Probably not, though it’s hard to say for sure what will happen as the current controversy grows. What’s much more likely, though, is that the days of NFL teams catching public boodle in the way of tax credits and new stadia after threatening to jump to new markets are over. Benson might get what he gets, but when he or his successors in charge of the Saints or Pelicans demand fresh taxpayer swag everyone will remember those 10 players sitting for the national anthem and the front office defending protesters instead of the flag, and that will be the end of the discussion.