Daniel Ek, CEO and cofounder of Spotify, on Saturday said his takeover bid for Britain’s Arsenal Football Club had been rejected, but he was still interested in the deal.
“I respect their decision but remain interested and available should that situation ever change,” the billionaire said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Ek spoke out to confirm that he’d made a bid for the Premier League club, disputing media reports that said he hadn’t pursued a deal. He didn’t disclose his offering price.
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment took ownership of the club in 2018. That deal valued Arsenal at about $2.33 billion at the time.
Arsenal last month was one of 12 top European clubs to propose breaking away from their leagues to from the European Super League. Arsenal fans in London took to the streets in protest, calling for Kroenke to sell the club. Within days, the Super League plans fell apart.
Ek in April also announced his plan to bid for the club, leading a consortium that included former players. In the interim, media reports said he didn’t submit a bid, according to Ek.
On Saturday, he wrote: “I think it’s important to correct the record – this week an offer was made to both Josh Kroenke and their bankers that included fan ownership, representation at the board and a golden share for the supporters.”
He added: “They replied that they don’t need the money.”
Manchester United fans have invaded the Old Trafford pitch to protest against the club’s American ownership.
About 200 individuals are believed to have gained access to the pitch via the Munich Tunnel after pushing down barriers, The Guardian reported.
Supporters are demanding change at the top of the club, which is under the control of the Glazer family, following the failed bid to join the controversial and now-defunct European Super League.
Billionaire co-chairman Joel Glazer apologized to supporters on April 21 for signing up to the breakaway project but many United fans are not placated. Some carried placards at the protest reading “apology not accepted” and others chanted “Glazers out.”
Videos from the pitch invasion show supporters shooting flares.
Speaking ahead of the protest, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “It’s important that the fans’ views are listened to and we communicate better. My job is to focus on the football side and that we have the best possible team.
“As I’ve said before I’ve been backed, I’ve had great support from the club and the owners and I’m sure I will get the backing again to go one step further. When the protests are on, it’s important they go in a good fashion and that we keep it peaceful.”
The club is due to play Liverpool later this afternoon but the game has been delayed by the protest. The Premier League was hopeful that the game would still kick off at 4.30 pm, according to the Manchester Evening News.
The new European Super League (ESL) came crashing down recently after nine football clubs pulled out of the plans following huge backlash from fans, politicians, and players.
The 12 teams that were about to join the elite breakaway league would have been handed between 100 million to 350 million euros ($120 million to $420 million), the Financial Times first reported.
The ESL was also planning to receive $4.2 billion in debt financing from JPMorgan over a 23-year period, before the US investment bank said it “misjudged” the deal after the majority of the teams withdrew from the league within 48 hours.
Now, a fan-led review into English football will take place to assess clubs’ finance, ownership, and supporter involvement in the game.
But it begs the question: where does all this money come from in the world of football? Overall, there are three main sources of revenue: broadcasting, commercial, and matchday revenue.
TV broadcasting revenue
TV deals are one of the most important sources of income for football clubs. which can be sold domestically and internationally. Leagues, such as the highly popular English Premier League, own the television distribution rights of all their games.
TV channels bid for the rights to air the matches and the football leagues sells them to the highest bidder. For the Premier League, this happens every third season and is typically Sky Sports, BT Sports, and most recently, Amazon Prime.
Robert Wilson, football finance expert and lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, told Insider that broadcast revenue typically makes up around 70% of the income of most Premier League clubs.
Although each club gets an equal share of the deal from the Premier League, they also receive merit payments – if they’re shown on TV more, they get paid more.
Wilson said that last year, Liverpool, who won the Premier League, earned around £150 million ($208 million) from the domestic TV rights deal, while Norwich City, who came last, earned around £110 million ($153 million). Relegation is therefore a costly and daunting prospects for clubs near the bottom of the league.
The rights to show Premier League matches between 2019 and 2022 were sold for nearly £4.5 billion ($6.2 billion) in 2018, with Sky Sports getting hold of the majority of the games. This was a drop from £5.1 billion ($70 billion) in the 2016-2019 seasons.
Reportssuggest that when broadcasters bid for 2022-2025 TV rights this summer, they won’t be prepared to spend as much as they did in previous years. Since BT Sports and Sky Sports agreed to a content-sharing deal in 2017, competition dropped between TV channels for the need to bid big, The Guardian reported in January.
“They were trying to produce – in my view – more football and the market was probably saturated,” Wilson said.
Another big money pot for football clubs is commercial revenue – in other words, income from sponsorship and merchandising, ranging from shirt sales, license holders, and retail outlets.
Big brands, such as Adidas, pay license fees to football clubs to stick the club’s logo on their shirts. As an example, Wilson said Adidas pays Liverpool a flat fee of £75 million ($10.4 million) to license the production of their replica jerseys.
“It doesn’t matter if they sell one shirt or a hundred million shirts, they still get £75 million,” Wilson said.
He also said the shirt sponsor, which is stuck on the front of the football shirt, is also a source of commercial revenue, as well as shirt-sleeve sponsors. Some of this revenue goes into the other parts of the club, such as the women’s club, he added.
The merchandising aspect of commercial revenue was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the closure of shops, Dr. Nicolas Scelles, senior lecturer in sports management at Manchester Metropolitan University, told Insider.
“They can still sell online, but of course it affects the commerical revenue,” he said.
The final major source of income for clubs is the money they earn on the day of a match. This includes matchday sponsorship, the sponsor on the ball, and most importantly, tickets sales.
The expensive corporate boxes, which business people use to entertain clients in, contributes to the total income, as well as food and drink sales.
It’s important to note that matchday revenue varies depending on the size of the club stadium – a bigger stadium with more fans, such as Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, will generate more revenue on a match day.
Scelles said this type of revenue has been affected the most by COVID-19 considering that stadiums were forced to close for the majority of 2020.
Transfer fees can also be income, Scelles said, as well as club owners’ injecting in their own money, but these two factors aren’t consistent sources of revenue that keep every football club up and running.
So why do clubs end up drowning in debt?
Player transfer fees and players’ salaries are the two main things that football clubs spend their money on, and they’re not cheap, especially when there’s no cap on how much players earn.
The most expensive transfer fee so far was Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior who transferred from Barcelona FC to Paris Saint Germain (PSG) for £200 million ($277 million) in 2017.
Wilson said it’s not uncommon for a number of clubs to spend more than they earn, and many have 140% of expenditure to turnover. The expenditure usually gets underwritten by future revenues, he added.
“Because the TV deals and the sponsorship arrangements are multi-year, they’ve got some guaranteed future revenue. But then they tend to accrue large debts and that’s why we see frequent instances of ownership change,” Wilson said.
Ownership transition can happen when a club ends up in millions of dollars of debt and a new owner takes over from the previous one to inject more money into the club. But this starts the cycle all over again, Wilson said.
The piles of debt stem from the huge competition between the teams. They’re all fighting to win the most trophies, nab the best players and be the best in the league. As a result, they hike up players’ salaries and transfer fees.
This “winner takes all scenario” sets benchmarks for other clubs, Wilson said. For example, Neymar being transferred for £200 million lifted the entire ceiling for how much transfer fees should cost, he said.
Wilson believes football’s financial system isn’t sustainable. “These losses are almost accepted as part and parcel of the financial model,” he said. “There’s loopholes and grey areas,” he said.
The only reason why there’s a review into the finances after the European Super League is because the clubs involved are some of the biggest in the world and the logistics of the league sparked uproar from loyal fans, Wilson said.
From a business perspective, Scelles doesn’t think clubs being in debt is a bad thing as the money is being used to generate more revenue, develop the club, and extend it internationally. But he said there needs to better financial management in place, even though this is hard to regulate in football.
Last Sunday night, the shock announcement of a breakaway “Super League” signaled that European soccer was about to get a whole lot more American.
That is, until a global backlash spanning everyone from the media to die-hard fans spurred a quick collapse.
A series of shock events over a roughly 48-hour period saw nine of the 12 ultrawealthy soccer clubs that wanted to form the league pull out, but that wasn’t the only unexpected development. Fans were furious that their favorite clubs were going to get richer from this arrangement, and they lambasted them for turning their backs on the current league structure, which is widely seen as problematic.
Prominent former players announced their own disgust.
“Manchester United, 100 years, borne out of workers from around here, and they’re breaking away into a league without competition that they can’t be relegated from? It’s an absolute disgrace,” respected football commentator and longtime Manchester United player Gary Neville said Sunday on Sky TV.
Still, even Neville said the current capitalist status quo isn’t perfect, and that competition has to “evolve.”
The casual American fan may be looking on with more than a little confusion. After all, why wouldn’t fans want a league that regularly pits Europe’s most famous and historically successful clubs against each other? To understand the outrage, you have to understand the economics of the European “football pyramid” and how an “American-style” closed competition clashes with more than 100 years of tradition.
Most fans want the biggest and wealthiest clubs to play against each other more regularly, as the Super League promised, but not if it means embracing what experts call a “socialist” structure that resembles American sports. They would rather have the inequality they’re used to in their domestic leagues, where a lack of coordination pits clubs ruthlessly against each other, and paradoxically results in less of the “competition” that prominent voices like Neville defended in the wake of the Super League announcement.
A closed competition vs. a football pyramid
The National Football League, Major League Baseball, and National Basketball Association all operate as closed systems, where teams can’t be kicked out.
American leagues are effectively set up as single corporate entities, with all their teams operating as subsidiaries, or franchises. The barriers to entry are so high they’re impassable. And when new clubs have formed in US sports history, they have formed within rival leagues, such as the USFL of the 1980s, which featured former President Donald Trump as an owner. It doesn’t exist anymore.
It’s not like that in Europe, where every club is treated as an independent corporation that is loosely affiliated in a competitive league format. If that club is mismanaged, it can lose money and get “relegated” to a second division, playing against relatively poorer clubs. This is the “football pyramid,” which in England, for example, features the Premier League at the top, with several divisions underneath it.
Theoretically, a club at the base of the pyramid could make it all the way to the top if it has good enough players. Something almost like this happened just a few years ago, when Leicester City won the Premier League against very long odds. But a so-called big club can tumble down the pyramid or even go bankrupt and enter administration, as happened with Leeds United in 2007.
The league’s most popular and well-funded teams face little risk of falling down the ladder. But the odds are exponentially higher for the smaller teams dotted throughout the UK. Those clubs, and their fervent fan bases, compete with a nearly constant threat of complete failure.
“Once you take away that hope the promotion-relegation system gives you, what will keep these [smaller] clubs alive in the future? The answer is ‘nothing,’ they’ll just die out,” Stefan Szymanski, co-author of “Soccernomics” and professor of sport management at the University of Michigan, told Insider.
The risk of relegation and, perhaps more importantly, the hope that an underdog can ascend the pyramid are what make football a cultural mainstay in England, Szymanski said. Even if the odds of promotion are small, that opportunity is what keeps local teams alive, he added.
“When it comes to sports, the American system looks decidedly socialist, and it’s Europe that looks like the land of opportunity,” Szymanski said. “This is the cartelization of European soccer. It’s formalizing a cartel amongst the elite teams.”
‘Xenophobia has a field day’
The fact that the closed system can be traced back to the US also poses a huge issue to European fans, Andrei Markovits, author of “Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism” and a professor of German Studies and comparative politics at the University of Michigan, told Insider. Transitioning the continent’s biggest teams from century-old league structures to one championed by Americans would spark intense feelings of erasure.
“What it means is that xenophobia has a field day … whatever you don’t like, you immediately make it American,” Markovits said. “This is literally anathema to millions of people.”
Even the business case for a closed league is short-sighted, the professor added. A league that represents the peak of international competition “should be soccer’s notion of upward mobility,” the professor said. Closing the Super League off from UEFA’s existing structure eliminates the appeal of teams fighting to stay in the highest ranks. That stands to drag on revenue as fans grow less interested because of a diminished sense of competition.
Although soccer has a global reach, local fans are still every club’s lifeblood. Their backlash will likely be the nail in the coffin for a fully closed model, whether it’s the Super League or a future offering, Markovits said.
“Sports fans are literally the most conservative, most parochial, most tribal beings … who will not agree to this,” he added. “These Super League guys didn’t do their homework.”
JP Morgan said it “misjudged” a deal to finance a breakaway league for 12 elite European soccer teams, which collapsed following furious backlash from fans.
The US investment bank committed more than $4 billion in debt finance over 23 years to the 12 founding teams of the league, some of the best in Europe. The debt was secured against broadcasting rights for the tournament, according to the Financial Times.
Twelve clubs announced plans to breakaway from the UEFA Champions League, the top European-wide competition, on Sunday. They would form their own Super League, they said, sparking outrage from fans, players, politicians, and even the UK royal family.
The plan quickly unraveled. By Wednesday all six UK clubs had pulled out. Italian teams AC Milan and Inter Milan, and Spain’s Atletico Madrid, said they would also withdraw.
The new competition planned to include Manchester United and Real Madrid, among other top clubs.
A JP Morgan spokesperson said: “We clearly misjudged how this deal would be viewed by the wider football community and how it might impact them in the future. We will learn from this.”
Critics said the scheme risked turning European soccer into a “money-grabbing” exercise similar to US sports leagues like the NFL, and undermined the ability for smaller clubs to beat the odds and win against top teams.
On Sunday, 12 top clubs from England, Italy, and Spain, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester United, announced plans to participate in the new, closed league. The announcement sparked a significant backlash in the sports community. Top players, as well as government officials, spoke out against the new league.
Fans also called for a boycott of services that would stream the Super League games, pointing fingers at Amazon and ESPN.
“To all footbalfans: if the SuperLeague arrives, refuse to choose the TVchannels they will use: If they cannot make money, JP Morgan and the greedy clubs will soon loose their appetite,” one Twitter user wrote.
Streaming rights to the European Super League could be a major boon to media groups like ESPN and Amazon Prime, likely on par with the NFL.
Amazon responded to claims the company would stream the Super League events and said it “understands and shares the concerns of fans.” The company said it has not been involved in any discussions about the new league.
A primary concern among fans was that the new league meant increased control over the game from American corporations. The Super League would be more reminiscent of US sports leagues than European ones, as the league would no longer regulate teams to lower levels based on their performance.
Some fans said JPMorgan was attempting to turn European soccer into a “money-grabbing” entity like the NFL.
Wherever a US president goes, a military aide carrying a heavy black briefcase follows. The case is always close by, just in case the president needs to unleash the devastating and destructive power of the US nuclear arsenal while out of the White House.
The briefcase is officially known as the president’s emergency satchel, but it is more commonly called the “nuclear football” or simply the “football.” The case starts following the president the moment they take the oath of office.
One, the briefcase “is the physical representation of the presidential authority” to order the use of nuclear weaponry, Schwartz said. Two, it exists because “we’ve been afraid that a surprise nuclear attack could catch us off guard and preclude any sort of retaliation.”
Schwartz explained that the strategic thinking behind the “football” is that “if you have the ability for the president to act quickly, you can forestall that and therein deter that from ever happening.”
‘Atomic weapons in an emergency’
Born from Cold War fears that the Soviet Union might launch a surprise attack that could cripple the critical US nuclear capabilities were the president unable to launch an immediate retaliatory strike, the “nuclear football” has been around since the Eisenhower administration.
The “football” was invented by Capt. Edward “Ned” Beach, Jr., a submarine officer who served as a naval aide to Dwight Eisenhower during his presidency, according to a 1991 Newsweek article.
The bag has been handed off from presidency to presidency, and every incoming president since Eisenhower peacefully transferred power to John F. Kennedy has been briefed on their nuclear responsibilities and the “nuclear football” prior to or upon taking office.
The day before Kennedy’s inauguration, Army Brig. Gen. Andrew Goodpaster, a defense liaison to the president, and Eisenhower met with the president-elect and “showed Mr. Kennedy the ‘satchel’ and the book of emergency documents therein,” a memo from Jan. 25, 1961 reads.
The memo says that the general “also told him of the extra document … included in the satchel which would authorize the use of atomic weapons in an emergency.”
The first known photograph of the briefcase, which can be seen in the first black-and-white photo in the collection of “football” photos below, was taken on May 10, 1963, when Kennedy traveled to Hyannis Port, Massachusetts to meet the Canadian prime minister.
Army Maj. Gen. Chester Clifton was tasked with carrying the satchel that day, just months before the president’s life suddenly and violently ended in November 1963.
Nicknamed the ‘football’
It is unclear where exactly the nickname “football” came from, but one of the first known public appearances of this term was in a November 1965 article by Associated Press reporter Bob Horton on Kennedy’s death two years earlier and the transfer of the presidential nuclear command authority.
Horton wrote that as Kennedy was dying at a hospital in Dallas, Texas after being shot, Ira Gearhart, a US Army warrant officer, “sat outside in the lobby unobtrusively guarding a brown leather briefcase someone had nicknamed the ‘football.'”
When Kennedy died, the man “picked up the case and strode past the emergency room desk into a surgery suite where, behind drawn shades, sat Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson,” Horton wrote, explaining that “with those few steps came the first real, if not formal, transfer of power.”
Burr further explained that the only reference to “dropkick” that he has been able to find is in the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. There were, however, real plans code-named “dropshot” and “offtackle,” the latter being a football term.
Regardless of where the nickname came from, it stuck, and people continue to call the briefcase the “football” today. That even includes the aides that carry the case and US presidents who might need to use it.
The aide with the briefcase is the president’s constant companion, not only at home, but also overseas as well. During the later years of the Cold War, the briefcase was photographed in Red Square in Moscow. It is one among many places the case has traveled.
Russian leaders are accompanied by a briefcase similar in function to the American “nuclear football.” The case, which is an important part of the command and control of Russia’s nuclear forces, is known as the “cheget” or more generally “chemodanchik.”
The Russian briefcase was created during the tense early 1980s, when the Soviets were becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of a US nuclear strike that would require immediate retaliation, according to a 1998 Washington Post report.
US and Russian leaders have talked about the possibility of eliminating the nuclear briefcases, though nothing has ever come of those discussions.
The issue was raised repeatedly during meetings between Bill Clinton and his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, declassified confidential memos on the meetings show.
“Let us say we get rid of the nuclear footballs,” Yeltsin remarked during a 1994 meeting. Yeltsin said that it was “too much” to have a military aide “drag around one of these briefcases.” Clinton said he would need to think about it, telling Yeltsin he hadn’t given the matter any thought.
“I’ll have to think about this,” Clinton replied. “All we carry, of course, are the codes and the secure phone.”
There is a little bit more to the contents of the “football” than Clinton’s short response during that meeting suggests. Reports from military aides and others throughout its history have offered some insight into what is in the bag. The specifics are classified though.
‘Things in the Football’
Warren “Bill” Gulley, the former director of the White House Military Office that oversees the “nuclear football,” wrote in his 1980 book Breaking Cover that “there are four things in the Football.”
These things include “the Black Book containing the retaliatory options, a book listing classified site locations, a manila folder with eight or ten pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Broadcast System, and a three-by-five inch card with authentication codes.”
The briefcase is also suspected to contain communications tools because what appears to be an antenna is visible in some photos of the “football.”
The black book in the briefcase explains US nuclear war plans, previously called SIOPs but later renamed, and contains a collection of pre-approved preemptive or retaliatory strike options the president could choose from in an emergency.
A simplified summary of the nuclear war plans and strike options was added to the briefcase during the Carter administration at the request of the president, according to the AP.
The simplified summary has been described as somewhat cartoonish. A former military aide who carried the “football” said it is a little bit like “a Denny’s breakfast menu.”
Gulley, the AP reported, described the options as “Rare, Medium, or Well Done.” It is unclear if this remains unchanged.
The card with the authentication codes, which are not the same as the launch codes maintained by the US military, is known as the “biscuit,” and it is an important part of the process a president would go through to order a nuclear strike.
If the president decided to use nuclear weapons, the “football” would be opened, and the president would be presented with strike options. The commander in chief may choose to consult with senior advisors and military leaders before proceeding, but that is not a requirement.
Using the “biscuit,” the president would identify himself to a military official in the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, who would then receive and transmit strike orders once it was clear that the nuclear strike orders were coming from the commander in chief.
Within just a few minutes, nuclear weapons aboard strategic bombers or carried by land-based or submarine-launched missiles would be in the air.
While it may have once been carried inside the “football,” presidents later began carrying the “biscuit” on their person. That development has led to more than one alarming mishap.
‘Nothing going wrong’
Carter accidentally left his “biscuit” in a suit that he sent to the dry cleaner, the FBI took possession of Ronald Reagan’s card after agents seized his clothes at the hospital following an attempt on his life, and Clinton is said to have lost his card. It was missing for months before anyone knew.
Like the “biscuit,” the “football” has also been fumbled quite a few times.
During Gerald Ford’s presidency, the “football” was mistakenly left on Air Force One, and Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton all found themselves separated from the aide carrying the briefcase at one point or another.
None of these incidents “tremendously imperiled presidential command and control,” Schwartz told Insider, “but they do point out the fact that when you have one person in charge of all this, it does put a premium on everything working and nothing going wrong.”
During the Trump administration, there were at least two incidents involving the “nuclear football.”
Chinese security officials attempted to prevent the military aide carrying the satchel from following the president into the Great Hall of the People, setting off a series of events that ultimately led to a physical altercation between the Secret Service and Chinese security personnel, Axios reported at the time. Beijing apologized for the unpleasant exchange.
Just a few days after Biden took office, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Secretary of Defense William Perry wrote in an op-ed published by USA Today that “no president should have unilateral power to use nuclear weapons.”
The debate over the president’s authority to order the use of nuclear weapons has come and gone many times. It is unclear what decisions, if any, Biden will make on nuclear policy, but for the time being at least, wherever the president goes, the “nuclear football” will follow.
Tom Brady is one of the leading spokespeople for Under Armour, and he’s not in the business of giving free PR to the brand’s competitors.
Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat out Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs to win Super Bowl LV Sunday night. As the 43-year-old quarterback hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the seventh time in his esteemed career, he caught a glimpse of himself on the stadium’s video board.
A red Nike swoosh was peeking out from his undershirt.
Nike has a contract with the NFL that requires all 32 teams to outfit their players in the brand’s apparel, including jerseys, sideline apparel, and more. That deal extends to base layers like undershirts, which aren’t typically visible to viewers.
So when Brady saw the Nike swoosh sitting squarely across his chest as he clutched his latest piece of hardware, he acted quickly and shrewdly to show his undying loyalty to Under Armour on football’s biggest stage; the 2021 Super Bowl MVP pulled up his gray Buccaneers Super Bowl Champions T-shirt to cover the decal.
Check out the clip below:
Brady’s likely to run into this issue a few more times over the final years of his career. The NFL’s apparel deal with Nike runs through 2028, so swooshes will continue to feature prominently on the gridiron. But if we’ve learned anything about the quarterback over his 21 years in the league, he will find a way to walk off with a win – no matter if it’s for himself, his team, or his brand.
Despite the precautions in place for the roughly 25,000 fans who attended Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, some experts are concerned that the game could be a coronavirus superspreader event.
“On paper it looks reassuring,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, told Insider. “But the reality is sobering.”
Coaches, players, and staff of the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers had been tested daily throughout the season and recently as much as twice daily, ESPN reported. The 25,000 fans were spread out among Raymond James Stadium’s more than 75,000 seats, with 30,000 cardboard cutouts of people used to fill in the empty space.
But while these measures are good, Chin-Hong says there’s still a significant cause for concern.
He also said even though the Tampa stadium is open-air, the nature of the event makes it especially risky.
“Any time you have 25,000 potentially inebriated people together shouting, yelping and screaming in one place in the middle of a pandemic, you are bound to have transmission,” he said, adding that alcohol increases the likelihood of people not following safety protocols.
Chin-Hong said shouting and yelling helps the droplets that cause COVID-19 to travel much farther than six-foot distancing guidelines. The length of the game, which lasted nearly four hours, also means the virus was more likely to spread, since longer exposure time increases the likelihood of infection from virus-laden aerosols.
The Super Bowl, which was won by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also took place in Florida, a state that is still battling its latest coronavirus surge. While its daily case count is dropping, Sunday was the 40th day in a row that the daily COVID-19 death count was in triple digits, The Miami-Herald reported.
Jim Howey: I’m Jim Howey. I was in the NFL from 1999 until 2018. My position was a back judge for many years then I went to field judge. To get in the NFL, it’s kind of a long process. Almost everybody’s story is the same. We start working pee-wee games, JV games, we join a local high school association. I got in the ACC in ’91, worked there till I went in the NFL in ’99.
[Howey spent 3 years in the NFL’s European league]
I was pretty successful in Europe and they felt like I could do the job in the NFL. I was then the principal at a local elementary school. I told my secretary, if two people call, you get me on that radio immediately. The first one is my wife, and the second one is Jerry Seeman. Jerry Seeman was the supervisor of officials. He was the one that was gonna call you and let you know you gonna be in the NFL. My secretary, she said, “Jerry Seeman is on the phone.” I said, “I’ll be there!” So I ran up the hall. He went on to say, “We’ve been watching you for the last couple years” “and we want to invite you to come into the NFL.”
You have seven guys on the field on each crew. All of us have different responsibilities. There’s a little bit of frustration there sometimes on the coaches, not necessarily knowing where we’re looking and who’s looking at what. The line judges and down judges, we’re counting the offense, we signal to each other we’ve got 11 offensive players, and then we go into the false starts, encroachments, offsides. There’s a lot of communication.
I would try to let them have an opportunity to tell me in a gentlemanly way what their concern was. And I would try to respond to that in a very low-key way. Not lose my cool.
I always thought that I had a pretty good rapport with these coaches. Kind of the same way, I would let them have their say, I’d respond, and hopefully we could talk it out. I’m not gonna convince him that I’m right most of the time. Now, I have told them, “I understand, but that’s enough. I don’t want to hear about it anymore.”
During the game, the players have an opportunity to go over to the bench and sit down. Referees never sit down. We’re up the whole game. Three times a week, I would ride the stationary bikes, and then twice a week, I would swim.
It is very lucrative. We have our own union that helps us in our contract negotiations. We have a 401k. It’s a lot like teacher pay. Teachers are on a scale. You start off as a starting teacher, and you bump up every year. And that’s the same way it is in the NFL.
It’s a part-time, full-time job. When the season is over, I would start first of February or middle of February studying the rules, looking at video. So it really never stops. One of my good buddies, Tony Steratore, he summed it up pretty good. He said, “Even when you’re in church,” “you’re thinking about something that’s going on” “in the NFL.” That’s a pretty good description of the way it is.
Graham Flanagan: Have you ever been in a situation where you really had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the game?
Jim Howey: Everybody does! The players, the coaches, the officials. You tell somebody on your crew, “I’m going to the restroom. Don’t start until I get back.” I think I was in Cleveland one time, I went running in there, and the door was locked. Somebody was in there and it was just the one stall. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh!” So I’m standing out there, waiting, waiting, waiting, looking at my watch, timing the time-out, the guy came out with about 30 seconds left and I actually was able to go in, get out, and I literally came running back in on the field as the referee was getting ready to mark the ball ready. The other six guys out there with me were just laughing and carrying on. “That’s the fastest you’ve run in years!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in September 2018.