The Influence Game: NFL PAC Gave Nearly $600,000

Associated Press + More

"Our goal is not to buy our way through Congress," he said. "We are very confident that members of Congress understand that this lockout is more than just players and owners. The lockout has an impact on jobs, the economy, local communities and municipal governments."

In addition to congressional leaders, NFL PAC recipients included the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, which have oversight over the league in several areas, as well as the House and Senate campaign fundraising arms of both parties. Some donations were more familial than strategic — the PAC gave to two grandsons of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney — Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., and Brian Rooney, who lost a GOP congressional primary race in Michigan.

[Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2010 campaigns.]

Several players have made individual donations, but they do not appear to be coordinated in a strategic way. Among them:

—Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback, gave $1,000 to Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. Manning played for the University of Tennessee.

—Brett Favre, quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, made a $2,400 donation to Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat who represents Favre's home district in southeast Mississippi.

—Julius Peppers, the Chicago Bears linebacker, donated $2,400 to Kevin Powell, a former MTV "Real World" star who mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge to Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y.

—Jonathan Vilma, a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, gave $4,800 to Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Florida Democrat who represents Miami and is now running for a Florida Senate seat. Vilma played for the University of Miami.

—Jason Taylor, New York Jets defensive end and a former Miami Dolphin, also gave Meek $4,800, and donated $10,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Some head coaches made donations, too. Carolina Panthers coach John Fox gave $1,000 each to Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and North Carolina GOP congressional candidate Harold Johnson. New Jersey Republican congressional candidate Jon Runyan, a recently retired offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers and several other teams, picked up $1,200 from Eagles coach Andy Reid and $1,000 from Chargers coach Norv Turner.

Goodell and other league officials donated money, as did owners and top officials from many teams. Houston Texans executives were particularly generous — owner Robert McNair gave around $100,000, including $55,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Texans vice chairman Philip Burguieres made about $50,000 in donations.

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  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2010 campaigns