NFL reports lobbying spending increase ahead of Super Bowl LVII

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This article originally appeared in OpenSecrets. Sign up for their weekly newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.
As the National Football League prepares for the Super Bowl LVIII, year-end reports show that the league continues to lead the recreation and live entertainment industry in federal lobbying spending. The NFL’s $1.46 million in 2023 federal lobbying spending exceeded its prior year lobbying spending, up from $1.33 million in 2022.
The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are scheduled to play in Super Bowl LVII February 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Neither team had recorded lobbying data in 2023. Super Bowl viewership has been on the rise since 2021, hitting a record 115 million viewers last year. Each year, the Super Bowl is the most-watched television event, with the NFC Championship between the Detroit Lions and the 49ers reaching a whopping near 56 million viewers.
Frequently followed by Major League Baseball, the NFL has led the industry in federal lobbying spending for over a decade.
Several individual NFL teams also pay their own lobbyists, notably the Washington Commanders. In 2023, the team spent $240,000 on federal lobbying expenditures, less than half of the $580,000 spent in 2022. The team recently acquired new ownership under the investment group of Josh Harris in July, taking over Dan Snyder’s previous role.
Of the 30 lobbyists working directly for the NFL, 23 had “revolving door” profiles, meaning that they have previously held jobs in government.
The NFL lobbied on three bills last year, none of which have been passed.
One bill endorsed by the NFL was the Personal Health Investment Today Act of 2023. The legislation, also known as the PHIT Act, has been introduced into both chambers and would allow athletes to use a portion of their pre-tax health savings account and flexible spending account on qualified fitness expenses.
The NFL also endorsed the Access to AEDs Act, which also has been introduced to both chambers. The legislation would award grants to lower educational institutions for increased heart defibrillator access. Automatic external defibrillators, also known as AEDs, are crucial to respond to sudden cardiac arrest. In January 2023, Damar Hamlin, a football safety for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest on live television during a game, but was administered proper care through AEDs and CPR that led to his full recovery. He has since spoken on Capitol Hill advocating for access to AEDs in schools to help student athletes who might suffer the same fate.
A third bill supported by the NFL, the Safeguarding the Homeland from the Threats Posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act of 2023, would regulate government counterattacks to drones. It would expand the federal government’s ability to reauthorize existing authorities and create new opportunities for federal agencies to coordinate counter-drone measures at the state and local level. The NFL supported both the House and Senate companion bills.
“This common sense, urgently needed legislation would more effectively protect our homeland – including mass gatherings and critical infrastructure – from the serious and rising security risks posed by rogue drones,” NFL Chief Security Officer Cathy Lanier said in a statement on the bill’s introduction in June 2023. “Keeping fans safe at our games is our top priority, and this legislation would give local law enforcement the tools they need to protect our fans from the threats of illicit drone use. We call on Congress to enact this vital legislation as soon as possible.”

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