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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: NFL

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September 18, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Can the Ray Rice domestic violence incident lead to more survivors?

Football player Ray Rice holds hands with his wife, Janay, as they arrive at Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, N.J. The pair have become icons for domestic violence awareness. (Mel Evans / Associated Press) If there’s a bright side to the domestic violence saga of NFL player Ray Rice, it might be that thousands…


Comments | Topics: domestic violence, NFL, Ray Rice

February 5, 2014 at 6:20 AM

How much will the Seahawks Super Bowl parade cost?

The Seattle Seahawks are throwing the 12th Man the biggest super-sized party Seattle has seen since 1979. And they’re picking up the bill.

More of this: Seattle Sonics victory parade, 1979. (Vic Condiotty / Seattle Times)

More of this: Seattle Sonics victory parade, 1979. (Vic Condiotty / Seattle Times)

The Seahawks’ city-issued parade permit includes standard costs for traffic control, said Jeff Reading, Mayor Ed Murray’s spokesman. Costs above that – including a call-out of “every available police officer,” according to a city source – will be paid for by the Seahawks.

How much that will be is a secret, for now. Seattle police don’t disclose costs for big events in advance, for security reasons.


Comments | Topics: celebrate 48, football, NFL

February 4, 2014 at 6:07 AM

Seahawks Super Bowl win raises awareness about brain injuries

Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen holds the Vince Lombardi trophy after Seattle won Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen holds the Vince Lombardi trophy after Seattle beat the Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks gave the world a heck of a game Sunday night. Now it’s time for the 12th Man and all football viewers to give a little something back. How about some attention on the issue of traumatic brain injuries among current and former football players?

Not to be a Debbie Downer in the midst of this town’s post-Super Bowl euphoria, but this is a good time to praise Seahawks owner Paul Allen for investing in traumatic brain injury (TBI) research here in Seattle. Read this Nov. 20, 2013 Seattle Times news story on Allen’s $2.4 million donation toward research. Shortly after, the editorial board published this opinion:

By emulating the latest investment, other NFL owners would stand to gain value and credibility with fans who increasingly care about balancing game-time thrills and the long-term health of athletes.

In a Jan. 31 Q&A, Allen reiterated that he is working closely with the league:

We’ve talked extensively with the league about the kind of research that should be done and that we want to do. We’ve specialized until now on the genetic characteristics of brains and how cells are affected by different conditions. Now we’re going to get some brain tissue from a bunch of different sources. You can have concussion trauma from all sorts of things, like IEDs in Iraq and motorcycle accidents. We’re going to look at some of this tissue and see how it differs from some of the tissue we’ve already scanned and have in our data banks to see how genetic characteristics have changed. But it’s going to take us a few years to get a better handle scientifically, at a very detailed level, what happens when you get a concussion. We’re cooperating with some of the same scientists that the league is working with. We’ve talked about everything from helmets to measuring impacts in real-time on the field.

Last month, CBS News reports the NFL made a smart decision to invest millions more into research through a partnership with the National Institutes of Health. The league can’t afford to ignore this problem.


Comments | Topics: concussions, football, NFL

October 31, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Poll: Time to strip the NFL of its nonprofit status?

Are we so blinded by our love of sports that we’re willing to be fleeced by the most profitable sports league in the world and its billionaire team owners?

The Seattle Seahawks defeat the Tennessee Titans 20-13 Sunday October 13, 2013 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle (BETTINA HANSEN/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

The Seattle Seahawks defeat the Tennessee Titans 20-13 Sunday October 13, 2013 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. (Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times)

I couldn’t make it past the first graph of this recent Atlantic magazine story, an excerpt from Gregg Easterbrook‘s book “The King of Sports,” without fuming.

In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who styles himself as a budget-slashing conservative crusader, took $4 million from taxpayers’ pockets and handed the money to the Washington Redskins, for the team to upgrade a workout facility. Hoping to avoid scrutiny, McDonnell approved the gift while the state legislature was out of session. The Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1 billion. But even billionaires like to receive expensive gifts.

Throughout the report, Easterbrook provides an exhaustive look at how American taxpayers have financed “70 percent of the capital cost of  NFL stadiums,” in addition to many ongoing infrastructure and operating costs. Here’s a tidbit about the Seattle Seahawks:

CenturyLink Field, where the Seattle Seahawks play, opened in 2002, with Washington State taxpayers providing $390 million of the $560 million construction cost. The Seahawks, owned by Paul Allen, one of the richest people in the world, pay the state about $1 million annually in rent in return for most of the revenue from ticket sales, concessions, parking, and broadcasting (all told, perhaps $200 million a year).

The Seahawks are a great team, but this is just plain wrong, especially when we’re struggling to fully fund public education and to sustain the cost of essential services such as the Metro transit system and health care.

Here’s the kicker: The National Football League is tax exempt. To the IRS, the NFL has been known as the Nonprofit Football League for decades. NBC News reports it gets away with this by only claiming tax immunity for the main office, which operated in 2011 with about $255 million worth of revenue. The NFL’s main function is to distribute billions generated from licensing and television deals to its 32 for-profit teams, each worth on average $1.2 billion according to this Forbes report. Still doesn’t pass the smell test. How many trade or charitable organizations pay their top official (in this case NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) nearly $30 million?


Comments | Topics: congress, football, NFL

October 15, 2013 at 6:50 AM

Shame on the NFL for ignoring its workforce

I watched the Frontline documentary, “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” with mixed emotions. Certainly the behavior of the National Football League toward its players – its employees – was arrogant, despicable, even vulgar. The league, and the owners and teams it represents, spent years and years denying the occupational health hazards suffered by players….


Comments | Topics: concussions, Documentary, frontline