Trump tax threat over anthem protests would have little effect on Ravens, NFL

President Donald Trump's tweeted proposal on Tuesday to reverse the NFL's "massive tax breaks" because of the ongoing player protests during the national anthem would have little effect on the league — which voluntarily relinquished its tax-exempt status in 2015 — or the Ravens.

Like the other for-profit NFL teams, the Ravens — valued at $2.5 billion by Forbes magazine in September — pay taxes.


The Ravens declined to say how much the team pays every year, and the information is not publicly available.

"We wouldn't share that," Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said.

The controversy that engulfed the NFL last week was reignited among fans Sunday, fury spilling from tailgate to tailgate party.

The NFL voluntarily gave up the tax exemption for its New York-based central office in 2015 in a public-relations move.

The tax exemption didn't amount to much though.

The Ravens and the other teams — not the NFL's central office — claim most of the billions of dollars in annual revenue flowing to the league, and each team pays taxes.

The central office is, in effect, an administrative body receiving licensing money, media money and other revenue, and distributing nearly all of it to the teams.

Trump delivered his proposal Tuesday morning.in response to teams whose players are staging protests during the playing of the national anthem before games. Some players have taken a knee to protest racial inequality and police brutality and in response to Trump's earlier comments calling for owners to fire players if they didn't stand for the anthem.

Trump tweeted : "Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!"


The league said in giving up the tax break in 2015 that its exempt status was a "distraction" and was misunderstood.

The exemption is, however, still on the books.

The Ravens and rival Pittsburgh Steelers have played 46 times but never quite like they will on Sunday: when the outcome of the contest will compete for attention with whether players will kneel.

League critics previously called on Congress to strip the NFL of its tax exemption following a variety of controversies. Those included the NFL's handling of former Ravens' player Ray Rice, who was filmed knocking his then-fiancee unconscious in an Atlantic City casino elevator. The NFL initially suspended Rice for two games, then made the suspension an indefinite one after the video surfaced.

Trump also tweeted Tuesday that ESPN ratings have "tanked" because of Jemele Hill, the anchor suspended for making political statements on social media.

While NFL viewership is down slightly, ESPN remains among the most popular cable networks, averaging 3 million viewers in prime time. The network has suffered subscriber losses over the last few years as some viewers have moved to streaming services from cable television.

The Associated Press contributed to this report