Conservative NFL Owners Don’t Get to Hide Behind Thoughts & Prayers After Mass Shootings

In the wake of another horrific school shooting, the Cowboys and Texans are “grieving” alongside Uvalde. But their owners’ pockets tell a different story.

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Conservative NFL Owners Don’t Get to Hide Behind Thoughts & Prayers After Mass Shootings
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones Photo:Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images (Getty Images)

I don’t want to hear another fucking word from the NFL about how devastated they are over Tuesday’s shooting, nor do I want to hear from two Texas NFL teams who are located dead in the center of a Republican desert—both of which are funded by deep-pocketed conservative owners who publicly support candidates that are “gun owner[s],” “avid hunter[s]”, and “proud defender[s]” of the Second Amendment.

On Tuesday night, after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) confirmed that 19 elementary school children and two adults had been killed in a mass shooting, both the Cowboys and Texans—located in Dallas and Houston, respectively—tweeted out their condolences.

When I say I don’t want to hear another fucking word from these teams, what I mean to say is this: The NFL is political and always has been. And when the teams are posting what seem to be apolitical, canned responses on social media after mass shootings, the absence of a deliberate condemnation is political, too.

The NFL generates more than $9 billion annually, making it one of the richest organizations in America. They claim to care about patriotism, about bolstering the lives of young athletes, and about uniting the American people. They have the connections, the funds, their own PAC, the operating logistics, and the lobbying powers to make a difference. They could support gun control measures with that influence. They won’t.

While the spending habits of NFL owners aren’t unilaterally indicative of the political beliefs of its employees, over the past four election cycles, political donations made by individuals associated with the Dallas Cowboys organization averaged 93 percent in support of Republicans. In 2016, the organization was affiliated with a $200,000 donation to America Leads, a Super PAC dedicated to supporting Chris Christie’s presidential run, who, in 2015 said, “The problem with guns in this country are criminals. Everything we need to make you safer is already on the books, and then some.”

Meanwhile, members of the Texans donated to PACs and candidates including Houston’s Republican Party of Harris County, Pierce Bush, Lindsey Graham, and the Opportunity Matters Fund—with an average of 99 percent of donations going to Republican candidates over the last four election cycles. That included more than $1.8 million to Republicans during the 2016 election cycle when Donald Trump was elected president.

But the owners’ checkbooks are single-handedly doing a whole lot of shouting on the matter of second amendment rights. According to ESPN, American sports owners have contributed almost $47 million in federal elections since 2015, including $10 million to Republicans at the time of the article’s publishing during the 2020 election cycle; the NFL alone gave $5,032,470 to Republican causes during a six-year period ending in 2020. But ESPN’s research also showed that 40 owners accounted for upwards of $40 million or 85 percent of all political donations—77.7 percent of which went to Republicans. On that list? Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Janice McNair of the Houston Texans.

From 2016 to 2020, Jerry Jones, the current owner of the Dallas Cowboys, gave over $200,000 to Republicans: Donating to Susan Wright for Congress, Perdue for Senate, Cornyn Majority Texas (which happily touts the “Right to Keep and Bear Arms,”) Pete Sessions for Congress, Colin Allred for Congress, Lance Gooden for Congress, and the Kay Granger Campaign Fund, as well as a $25,000 donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2016, according to publicly available FEC data. The NRCC is the “Republican Party’s chief fundraising committee dedicated to electing Republican candidates” to the House and they literally call their candidates to watch “Young Guns.”

Over the same four-year period, Janice McNair—the co-founder and current owner of the Texans, which she took over when her late husband Bob McNair passed—gave over $1.3 million to Republican causes. Just this year, McNair made a donation to Texans for Morgan Luttrell, who claims “our freedoms are under the constant threat of the socialist agenda.”

But please, dear wealthy white owners who have all the power and are doing nothing to save our children with it, tell us how upset you are about the slaughter of 19 children and their teachers. Tell us, dear arbiters of commercially condoned violence on a football field, how the misogyny you may or may not promote while willfully employing domestic abusers and rapists definitely does not bleed into the culture of our boys and men who continue to carry out horrific mass shootings. Go right ahead and tell us how you wish and hope and pray that there was something you could do, if only you didn’t refuse to open your purse strings to enforce stricter gun laws or background checks or anything remotely helpful. Because to me, it seems as though the NFL, at a time like this, has exactly the right influence over the demographic groups that are needed to enact change. But like I said, they fucking won’t.

Perhaps the NFL and its owners who’ve leaned one too many times on hollow Bible verses could learn a thing or two from the Golden State Warriors’ coach, Steve Kerr, who raised his voice for all of us and refused to talk about basketball in a time when moments of silence at the start of playoff games accomplish nothing at all. Kerr, at least, will say the quiet part out loud: Sports are political. And when these teams and leagues and organizations send their pathetic fucking thoughts and prayers, what they are conveniently leaving out is that they have already said the exact opposite with their checkbooks.

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