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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 29, 2015 at 3:26 PM

Crotch grabs for charity? Seahawks fines should stay local, says state lawmaker

OLYMPIA — Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been racking up fines this year for his brevity with the media and on-field gestures.

Lynch tallied $20,000 for a crotch-grabbing touchdown celebration in the NFC championship game alone. Typically, fine money goes to football-related charities according to past statements from league representatives. The NFL Player Care Foundation and the Players Assistance Trust are among those getting the money.

State Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, wants that money to go local charity instead. He filed a bill Thursday — that even he acknowledges is likely unenforceable — to divert fines paid by Seahawks players and other Washington professional athletes into state charities.

MacEwen said the bill is a response to the NFL’s handling of the case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was seen on video assaulting his then-fiancee. Rice was eventually cut by the Ravens, but the league initially suspended Rice for only two games.

According to MacEwen, the NFL was too lax with Rice’s punishment, especially compared with the amount Lynch has been fined for refusing to speak with the media.

“I’m trying to raise the awareness of the hypocrisy right now with the league — the domestic violence issues, the assault issues,”  he said. “In my opinion [the NFL] kind of threw it under the rug. To me it blows me away how they’ve treated those two separate issues.”

MacEwen said he hopes the bill sends a message and raises discussion. MacEwen doesn’t know if the state has the ability to enforce it. The NFL is headquartered in New York City, and commerce between states is regulated by the federal government.

He also acknowledged that fine money is said to go to other charities.

“If a player who plays for the Seattle Seahawks get a fine, it’s the fan base here that’s supporting the team,” MacEwen said. “I think we could see a lot more good in communities where the local teams are.”

Athletes have previously asked for fines to be directed to a specific charity. In a 2011 Associated Press article, David Krichavsky, the NFL’s director of community affairs said the NFL decides where fines go.

“We don’t cater to specific requests, ” Krichavsky said in the article.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: fines, NFL, Rep. Drew MacEwen

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