Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler sparked a flurry of response on Twitter and blogs when he announced in a radio interview that he was supporting Mitt Romney in the presidential election. "Yeah, I have been following the debates and everything. I do live in Tennessee," he said. "I'm voting for Mitt this election season." Cutler's pro-Romney comment was the most publicized NFL political pronouncement of the year, but plenty of other players and league figures have taken sides as well.
According to figures compiled by the Center For Responsive Politics, the league has a PAC that has spent $840,000 in lobbying in the first half of 2012 alone and $1.62 million in 2011. The PAC has also given $207,500 to Democrats during this election cycle and $220,000 to Republicans. In the Presidential race, the PAC and individuals who work for the league have given $15,400 to Romney and $14,600 to Obama. The NFL PAC has also given large amounts of money to retiring Maine Senator Olympia Snowe and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin.
According to a February analysis by the Center, individual team owners, executives and players have spent large sums on candidates outside of the NFL PAC (though all owners and many members of their family donate substantial amounts to the NFL PAC).
According to FEC records, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated $40,000 to an Obama Super PAC in 2012 and $5,000 to his campaign in December of 2011. Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie put a large amount of money towards Obama's campaign in 2008, but individual records do not indicate that he donated any this time around. Steelers owner Dan Rooney, donated $35,000 to an Obama PAC. Members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer's family have spent tens of thousands for Obama.
On the right, members of Titans owner Bud Adams' family have donated to Romney, though individual FEC records don't indicate that he has given any money. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has put $55,000 towards Romney's campaign and PACs that support it. Members of Cowboy owner Jerry Jones' family at first supported Rick Perry and later gave money to Romney. Saints owner Tom Benson gave Romney $125,000. Texans owner Bob McNair gave what seems like the most of any individual NFL owner, spending $200,000 on right-leaning Super PACs.
Players have also spent a substantial amount of money supporting candidates. According to FEC filings in this election cycle (the totals include donations to PACs friendly to particular candidates as well as the candidates themselves):
• Vernon Davis donated $7,500 to Obama
• Antrel Rolle donated $5000 to Obama
• Josh Barrett donated $250 for Obama
• Chris Carr donated $201 for Ron Paul
• Marques Colston donated $73,300 to Obama
• Jahari Evans donated $10,000 to Obama
• Kellen Winslow donated $1500 to Obama
• Phillip Rivers donated $2500 to Rick Santorum
• Anthony Adams donated $250 to Obama
• Michael Clayton donated $250 to Obama
• Domonique Foxworth donated $5000 to Obama
While few mentioned their support publicly, Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (below) tweeted out this picture of himself casting his vote.*
"If you think any president can fix our problems in 4 years you are kidding yourself..." he wrote, adding a picture of an Obama-Biden sign. "It takes time."
*Have you seen other NFL players throwing their support behind a candidate? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org