Although they are sports teams first and foremost, NFL teams and their owners actually carry massive political clout. When owners aren't involved in internal league politics, they're also projecting their great influence onto the external political scene. Players and staff too, also pump money into campaigns.
The Sunlight Foundation reports that staff, employees, owners, and players contributed about $1.5 million to political causes. More recently, the organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington say that owners have donated upwards of $2.8 million to candidates in this election cycle alone. Most of the donations related from the NFL are to Republicans. According to the Sunlight report, Republicans received three times as much donations from donors linked to football teams than the Democrats did.
The Center for Responsive Politics also said that over the course of President Barack Obama's tenure, 67 percent of NFL-linked political contributions went to Republican causes, while the Democrats saw only 29 percent. Ravens' owner Steve Bisciotti is no exception to the right-leaning majority of owners either. Bisciotti and his wife have donated tens of thousands to Republican politicians, including multiple $10K donations to the Maryland RNC and a $1K contribution to the re-election campaign of George H.W. Bush in 1992.
It would seem that Bisciotti and his fellow owners prefer the Republican Party simply because of their reputation for being "business friendly". As one of the largest private entities in the world, the NFL obviously wants to have legislators who will put commerce first.
Not only do owners tend to lean towards the right, but so does the league's actual PAC. The National Football League PAC, funded primarily by the owners and league brass, (Commissioner Goodell contributes the max amount every year) donates about two-thirds of their money to Republican groups. In the 2016 cycle, $208.5K was earmarked for the right. Liberal causes only saw $88.5K from the NFL's PAC.
Top recipients include the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Republican Senatorial Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, and the Boehner for Speaker Committee. Interestingly, but not all that surprising, Rep. Tom Rooney of the Steelers' Rooney family, received contributions from the league PAC as well.
Now, money certainly talks in Washington, but the NFL also has actually lobbyists talking for them in the Capitol. In 2015 alone, the NFL spent just shy of $1.2 million on lobbying. The league's special interests range from telecommunications to human growth hormones. NFL lobbyists have also been very active in legislative debates about concussions and player safety. In comparison, the NFLPA also has a presence on Capitol Hill, albeit a small one. The players' union spent $240K last year on lobbyists, and most of the lobbying was centered around labor issues.
With the 2016 campaigns in full swing, it's quite interesting to see how it will effect the league. I wasn't able to find any direct ties to the two big candidates from the NFL's PAC, but I wouldn't be surprised if Donald Trump was the preferred candidate of the ownership. Hailing from the reputed pro-business Republican Party, and having a business background, Trump would likely be a business-friendly President if elected. And the league that generates $13 billion annually in revenue would probably like that very much.