NFL Hires Popular, History-Making Female Police Chief

(Cathy Lanier poses with Washington D.C. police officers. Photo: Ted Eytan)

A popular police chief is switching jobs this week.

Cathy Lanier – the first ever female police chief of Washington, D.C. – is departing from her role as a public servant and picking up the mantle of head of security for the NFL. She was in charge of D.C. police for 10 years, an incredibly long period of time for a position that – in many cities – often undergoes quick turnover rates.

Her popularity stemmed from a number of factors. The city progressively got safer under her tutelage. Perhaps even more importantly, she gained the trust of D.C. residents through a commitment to community policing.

This style of law and order embeds police officers within communities, ensuring that they become acquainted with the local population while developing and maintaining relationships with community figures. This proactive approach to policing cultivates trust, and has been considered an important strategy for bridging wide gaps between cities and police departments, especially where fissures concerning race, police brutality, and crime have led to historical highs of public distrust.

The NFL’s choice to hire a history-making woman who embodies progressive sensibilities concerning security does seem like a positive step for the scandal-plagued institution.

To reporters, Lanier contextualized her career change:

What’s more important than being responsible for public safety and security than the nation’s capital? Where do you go from here right? When I thought about the NFL, it’s America’s favorite sport and what’s more important than making sure America’s favorite sport is safe?

Keeping sports fans safe certainly contributes to the social good. But it will take the NFL more than the Lanier appointment to fully rehabilitate its image tarnished by obfuscating the medical risks of football, turning a blind eye to domestic violence, and economically damaging local communities through privileged tax designations.

Super Bowl 50: Philanthropist Acts as Lead Host

(Super Bowl 50 will be held in Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco)

Organizers for Super Bowl 50 are not only hoping for a tremendous showdown between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. They also have their sights on marrying philanthropy to the highly popular annual competition in an unprecedented way.

Daniel Lurie – the founder and CEO of Tipping Point Community – was selected to serve as the chairman for the host committee in San Francisco. The leading Bay Area philanthropist has received accolades for his work fighting poverty; his organization screens and funds a number of highly vaunted nonprofits on a yearly basis.

Lurie’s position as chairman of the host committee has him working as the de facto ambassador for the city as it plans the upcoming Super Bowl.

Lurie:

I was a little surprised when I was asked. I thought we should go and find some business CEO, but after thinking about it I really realized the opportunity we had to change the way we think about how we bid on these events… and how we put community first.

The popular philanthropist plans on working with a number of all-star players including Marshawn Lynch, Justin Tuck, and Ronnie Lott in order to make the NFL’s flagship philanthropic effort – the 50 Fund – a success. Lurie hopes to surpass the NFL’s fundraising goal of $13 million. The fund raises money for youth development, providing low-income communities with sports and educational opportunities, as well as environmental measures that connect communities with the natural world.

Recently, however, there have been protests in San Francisco. The increase in media attention has opened up the nation to a number of issues facing the Bay Area, including sky-rocketing rent and seemingly intractable homelessness.

“We’ve had a [homelessness] problem here in the Bay Area for decades,” Lurie said in response to the criticism leveled at the city for accepting the Super Bowl. “This is not a Super Bowl issue, it’s a Bay Area issue… I love this city, and I love the region. I love the growth that we’re seeing, but I also know not everyone is involved in our economy and how great things are going.”

Whatever the criticism, a successful philanthropist running the most success ever 50 Fund may be the positive press that the NFL needs after a year of scandals ranging from domestic violence to concussion-induced brain damage in players.

NFL Punts Its Nonprofit Status

Over the past year, Key Elements Group has provided ongoing coverage of the controversies facing one of the most profitable nonprofits in the United States – the National Football League. In the wake of domestic violence scandals and soaring profits and salaries for its executive staff, the NFL began attracting more and more public and media scrutiny, particularly over its tax-exemption status.

Evidently, this attention had some effect.

The NFL announced Tuesday, April 29 that it was relinquishing its tax-exemption status. As a nonprofit, team owners pay into the league in a form of dues, which go toward administering the league and paying out the gargantuan (untaxed) paychecks of its chief executives. Roger Goodell – the league’s commissioner – made a staggering $35 million in 2013. A lot of the NFL’s earnings are distributed back to teams, however, which as taxable entities consequently pay up. This doesn’t stop some team owners, however, from bullying cities for preferential treatment and kickbacks.

Goodell announced to the press that the “league office and its management council will file returns as taxable entities for 2015 fiscal year,” referring to its nonprofit status as a “distraction.”

Commentators point out that a primary catalyst behind the move is a desire for less transparency. By law, nonprofits must reveal how much money top-level employees make. Under the new tax categorization, the NFL will not have to reveal just how well-compensated executives like Roger Goodell truly are.

The moral of this story? Bad media attention can force hands.

With executive missteps over the year’s spate of domestic violence cases, looming lawsuits over the longterm health issues faced by former players, and the extraordinary compensation enjoyed by NFL elite, the tax-free treatment that league cadres enjoyed was a bit too much for the nation to bear.

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