The office of Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, did not respond to my query yesterday seeking details of the collaboration that the Sports Fans Coalition claims it has with him both on ending local blackouts of National Football League telecasts and on combating the problem of concussions in football.
Yesterday the executive director of the coalition, Brian Frederick, said to me on Twitter, “Had you come to me first I could have told you that we’re working with Blumenthal’s office on blackouts AND concussions.” This followed publication of my Beyond Chron article criticizing the group (http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/NFL_Fans_Should_Worry_About_More_Than_One_Kind_of_Blackout__9373.html).
On Monday, after I called a September 2010 piece by Frederick in the Huffington Post “shallow” for ignoring concussions, he’d tweeted me that it was a matter of priorities: “[W]e’re just getting started. Focusing on blackouts first. Can only fight so many battles at once.”
I’m amused by word that Frederick is working with Blumenthal, since the former’s HuffPo article was all about how the NFL, in a pattern typical of big corporate interests, buys influence in the nation’s capital via lobbying expenditures and campaign donations. Subsequent to this story, filings from the 2010 campaign season would document that freshman senator Blumenthal himself had already joined the fat-cat fraternity a year before his election in the form of contributions from the NFL’s political action committee, the Gridiron PAC.
The league’s senior vice president for governmental affairs, Jeff Miller, told Politico.com, “The Gridiron PAC makes contributions primarily to Members of Congress who sit on committees with jurisdiction over issues important to the NFL or to those who represent regions where one of our teams play.”
Citing “trust” of a reporter asking uncomfortable questions, Frederick declined to provide me with details of his and Blumenthal’s concussion efforts – an oddly opaque stance by a self-appointed champion of public interest. Until such time as Blumenthal confirms that his office has done anything substantial with the Sports Fans Coalition, it’s probably fair to assume that Frederick engaged in hype when he bragged of “working with” the senator on blackouts – electronic, neurologic, or otherwise.
But if I prove wrong about that, then there is an additional question we should be asking Frederick. Has he used his Washington face time to rebuke the Connecticut grandstander for taking dough from the Gridiron PAC? If not, I’ll be glad to provide Frederick with draft talking points.