As millions of fans gear up for the Super Bowl, the grand spectacle that captures the nation’s attention like no other, it’s crucial to shed light on the darker undercurrents flowing beneath the surface of this massive event. The National Football League (NFL), with its glittering array of billionaire owners, offers more than just a game; it represents a powerful confluence of corporate and fossil fuel interests that have long contributed to the global climate crisis.
At the heart of the NFL’s power structure are some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, many of whom have built their fortunes on the back of the oil and gas industry. This longstanding relationship between the league and fossil fuel money is not just a footnote in the history of American sports but a continuing saga that impacts communities and the planet to this day.
The Kansas City Chiefs, one of the teams often spotlighted for their achievements on the field, are steeped in oil dynasty wealth. Owned by the Hunt family, descendants of H.L. Hunt, who amassed a multibillion-dollar oil empire, the team’s legacy is intertwined with the exploitation of natural resources. The Hunt family’s influence extends beyond the gridiron, maintaining significant stakes in various oil and gas operations through Hunt Consolidated.
But the Hunts aren’t alone in their fossil fuel connections. From the Buffalo Bills’ Terry Pegula, who built his fortune on fracking, to the Houston Texans’ Janice McNair, widow of power generation magnate Robert McNair, the NFL’s roster of team owners reads like a who’s who of the energy sector. Even Jerry Jones, the larger-than-life owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has direct ties to fracking through his majority ownership of Comstock Resources, a company that profited handsomely from the energy crisis during Texas’s deadly 2021 winter storm.
These owners wield their wealth and influence not just in the realm of sports but in shaping policies and perceptions around energy and the environment. Their actions have consequences, from contributing to the climate crisis to profiting from disasters exacerbated by the very industry they represent. And while the NFL dazzles audiences with its high-octane entertainment, the cost of this spectacle extends far beyond the price of admission.
The public’s growing awareness of these connections has led to protests and calls for accountability, challenging the unchecked power of billionaires like Jerry Jones and demanding a reckoning with the environmental and social impacts of their business practices. Activists like those from Sunrise Movement Dallas are leading the charge, highlighting the urgent need for a transition to sustainable energy systems and a more equitable economic model.
As fans, we must ask ourselves: can we reconcile our love for the game with the stark realities of its financial underpinnings? The Super Bowl, for all its excitement and pageantry, casts a long shadow over our collective efforts to combat the climate crisis. It’s time for the NFL and its owners to play a constructive role in shaping a sustainable future, one that doesn’t sacrifice the planet for profit.
In the end, the true champions will be those who stand up for the health of our communities and the integrity of our environment. As the Super Bowl captivates the nation once again, let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture and the critical role we all play in addressing the climate crisis. It’s a game where there’s much more at stake than a trophy, and we’re all in it together.