Originally, this was never meant to be an ongoing series of posts. Nonetheless, due to popular demand, one felt another installment was necessary. There is so much more to add, in proving once and for all, that indeed, the NFL does exert, and from a purely business standpoint, rightfully so, quality control over the delivery of its profitable product. After all, with such a monumental fiduciary responsibility, would one leave the success of a nearly six billion dollar business enterprise up to the whims of chance? However, from a moral perspective, in light of the following facts, one may be compelled to feel differently.
ORGANIZED CRIME and the NFL
One shall begin by documenting the leagues long relationship with not only organized crime elements, but proximity with Las Vegas and the gaming industry. That Las Vegas and the mob are inextricably linked, should not surprise anyone, since it was Mob boss Meyer Lansky and his close mob associates, transformed a tiny water stop for GI’s on their way to the West coast, into a multi-billion dollar gaming oasis. By the way, allow one to be clear about the main premise of this blog series. One does not believe NFL games are rigged towards one outcome or another. For, that would imply the games were on the level to begin with. No, rather, the outcome of NFL games, particularly championship contests, are, in fact, predetermined and choreographed. How else does one think the gaming industry book makers stay one step ahead of those surely considered suckers placing bets? Ultimately, business interests must be protected, and the NFL and its associates, will go to any lengths to ensure the integrity of those immense profits remain intact. Despite this, the conspiratorial ties between professional sports, specifically the NFL, and organized crime, are not well publicized, for obvious reasons of both plausible deniability, and overall consumer appearances.
Nonetheless, this covert relationship has existed since the NFL’s inception, and in fact, still persists today.
Many would surely scoff and claim such a nexus no longer exists. But, one is reminded of the dubious claim of none other than the late FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who was adamant when questioned before congressional committee that the mafia didn’t exist at all. One finds people in general, and particularly professional football fans, possess an inherent talent for remaining blind to uncomfortable notions they may not wish to acknowledge. Acknowledging America’s game may be tainted in any significant way somehow violates delicate, and perhaps naively developed sensibilities. Many of the leagues star players, and owners, have been known to have close associations with organized crime figures. Some of which we shall now briefly detail:
1.) ART ROONEY: Cigar chomping Rooney, long time owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, founded the club with less than 10,000 dollars, a windfall garnered from betting on the ponies at the track. A known degenerate gambler, Rooney was often placed in the uncomfortable position of having to pay off the enormous principle of his gambling debts. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Rooney was forced to see to it that contest points were shaved in directions favorable to his mob associates. Assured of the outcome, and in order to garner a piece for himself, Rooney often bet on his own team, either for or against, depending upon whatever had been predetermined.
2.) TIM MARA: Mara founded the New York Giants while still owning and operating a notorious metropolitan sports book. His grandson, no stranger to dubious associations of his own, and in the tradition of keeping things in the family, is now co-owner and president of the franchise board of directors.
3.) Charles Bidwell, known associate of none other than mob luminary Al Capone, founded the Chicago Bears. In fact, they shared the same lawyer.
4.) ARTHUR McBRIDE: Founder of the Cleveland Browns franchise, McBride was notorious for having owned and operated a gambling shop coined “Public enemy number one.” McBride was questioned in 1951, the same year his team won the league championship, by congressional committee, concerning his ties with mob controlled gambling rackets. On the shrewd advice of legal council, McBride vehemently denied such associations.
5) ED DeBARTOLO: DeBartolo was alleged to have bribed the governor of Louisiana out of over 400K in order to purchase a river boat casino license. Oddly enough, such allegations didn’t seem to tarnish DeBartolo’s reputation. After a cursory league ‘investigation’, DeBartolo was merely ‘suspended’ for the duration of one year. Later, he was nominated for the NFL hall of fame, while the governor, was found guilty of corruption charges, and summarily sent to prison.
CAROL ROSENBLOOM, BROADWAY JOE, and SUPER BOWL III
Once again, the historical stage must be set.
The year is 1969, and the NFL is at a crossroads. The popularity of the modern game was growing by leaps and bounds, fast surpassing major league baseball as America’s favorite televised pastime. The NFL was also on the cusp of major expansion. A merger was in the offing with the upstart American football league. These unique circumstances called for the most creative of strategies.
Enter one Carol Rosenbloom.
Rosenbloom was the owner of the Baltimore Colts, a winning franchise with a storied history. But, Rosenbloom had a checkered past. Rumors and innuendo swirled that the sartorial Colts owner had ties with organized crime figures, in particular the very head of the syndicate controlling all gambling and narcotics rackets in the US, the boss of all bosses, Meyer Lansky. Going in to this historic match up with the upstart New York Jets, the Colts were overwhelming favorites to win the contest. However, prior to the game, rumors were afoot, that in order to strengthen the commercial value of the merger between the two leagues, the perception had to be placed in the public mind that the AFL was in fact the weaker foe.
Some curious factors added credibility to the idea the game hadn’t been played on the level:
1.) The noticeably sub-par performance of league MVP quarterback Earl Morral, who in fact threw three uncharacteristic interceptions positioning the contending Jets in prime field position to easily score and come away victorious.
2.) The suspicions of Colts offensive lineman Bubba Smith, who was rumored to have grumbled the enormous and unprecedented pregame spread had suspiciously narrowed just before game time.
3.) Smith’s assertions, in turn, fueled speculations that someone close to the Colts, perhaps Rosenbloom himself, had placed a heavy bet on his own team to lose.
Could it be that Rosenbloom, with his known associations with organized crime elements, in fact possessed foreknowledge of the games predetermined outcome?
4. ) Underscoring all of this; the brash pregame declarations of one ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath, the Jets playboy quarterback and notorious gambler with questionable mob ties, echoing into NFL posterity: “I guarantee a Jet’s victory!”
Given these facts, is this not enough for even the most rabid of professional football fanatics to question the very integrity of the game they so claim to cherish? The overwhelming response will, one can be certain, to adamantly claim such sordid tactics no longer occur. With nothing to substantiate such vehement claims, other than one’s blind adulation, what tangible evidence at hand causes one to so heartily believe such shenanigans are not still covertly schemed?
NFL TAX EXEMPT
The NFL, thanks to strong political lobbying going all the way back to the 1940’s, possesses tax exempt status under IRS tax code 501c(6). Officially, it keeps its official earnings low by paying its executives corporate level salaries. To wit; commissioner Roger Goodell, who earned a hefty salary of over 44 million in 2013 alone. This non-profit status, allows the leagues 32 for-profit franchises, to deduct their annual 10 million membership fee from all taxable revenues. Team contributions are then placed into a collective fund, used to provide loans for new stadiums, with the caveat that construction of such stadiums must be tax payer financed. With an annual lobbying budget of over twenty million, NFL teams, since 1997, have spent a total of 4.7 billion of public funds to build 20 new stadiums across the nation.
With an increasingly faltering American economy, millions out of work, unable to find employment in these same metropolitan areas, not to mention the increasing problem of homelessness, is such an ongoing practice, with the complicity of local, state, and federal governments, morally acceptable, in a nation heralding the rights and fair economic opportunities of a so-called ‘free’ society?
STAY TUNED FOR CIA: THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT (Part II)