Why Celebrity Family Feud is an Insult to Charities

On August 7th on ABC, I watched an airing of Celebrity Family Feud, hosted Steve Harvey, who clearly has healed from his international snafu of crowning the wrong Miss Universe. The teams were comprised five offensive players from the National Football League’s (NFL) American Football Conference (AFC) and five defense players from the NFL’s National Football Conference (NFC).

Let’s meet the players:

ABC's "Celebrity Family Feud"
AFC Offense: (Left to Right) Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Amari Cooper, Jeremy Hill, and Marcus Cannon. Charity Supported: Active Minds



NFC Defense: (Left to Right) Cliff Avril, Malcolm Jenkins, Tyrann Mathieau, Terrance Knighton, Thomas Davis, Host Steve Harvey. Charity Supported: Got Your 6

As I noted above, each team was playing for a designated charity. The AFC’s charity, Active Minds, claims to be the leading nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. The NFC’s charity, Got Your 6, works to normalize the depictions of veterans on film and television to dispel common myths about the veteran population. Clearly, both of these causes are noble are worth supporting.


The NFC Defense ended up winning the game against the AFC Offense and achieved the necessary 200 points in the final round to win $25,000 for the Got Your 6 organization. The NFC players celebrated, and the AFC Offense joined them on stage to celebrate with them (the AFC Offense’s charity also received a smaller donation).

Here’s the problem I have, and I’m going to address it by looking in detail at each player on the winning team. The information below shows each NFC player, his current contract term, the price of his contract, his signing bonus, his total cash earnings for his career to date, and the total amount of fines the player has paid to date.

All of these statistics are from: http://www.spotrac.com/nfl

Player Contract Price Signing Bonus Cash Earnings Total Fines
Thomas Davis 2 years 18,000,000 9,000,000 51,463,000 46,218
Cliff Avril 4 years 28,500,000 2,500,000 37,866,497 15,000
Malcom Jenkins 4 years 35,000,000 7,500,000 26,521,960 41,893
Terrance Knighton 1 year 1,750,000 250,000 11,819,173 36,025
Tyrann Mathieu 5 years 62,500,000 15,500,000 2,390,333 10,000

One look at the numbers above had me dumbfounded, and I think you should be, too. Those earnings are astronomical to anything most of you and I could ever imagine.

(Americans are split on the issue of salaries for professional athletes, just check out this Debate.org poll to see the numbers. If you ask New York Giants wide received Odell Beckham, he’ll tell you he should be paid more. Perhaps most of us agree after the one-handed catch he made against the Dallas Cowboys in 2014; I remember watching it live. But, I digress…)

The point here is not how much the athletes make, it’s how much they won for their cause on Celebrity Family Feud–$25,000. That’s pennies compared to the millions and millions of dollars per year they earn from their salaries and other bonuses. I’m not asking the players to be like Bill and Melinda Gates and the other billionaires in the world to donate half their salaries to charity. I mean, they have Ferraris, 28-room houses, vacation homes, private jets, and all of the other things they have to buy with those millions of dollars, right?

Three of the players on the winning team have EACH paid more in fines to the NFL than the amount that was donated to the Got Your 6 charity. That’s just pathetic. “But wait,” you might say, “the NFL donates that fine money to charity!”

And you would be correct, but dig deeper. The NFL does donate the money to charity, but according to the NFL’s website on fines and appeals, “the fines collected do not go to the NFL, but instead go to programs for former players. The Players Association and the league have agreed to donate fine money through the NFL Foundation to the NFL Player Care Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Players Association’s Players Assistance Trust.”

So, the almost $150,000 in fines that the aforementioned players have paid goes right back to players, while needy charities out there get a measly $25,000. This year alone, these five players will make a combined $36 million. Something doesn’t make sense.

ABC, here’s where you should listen: the next time you want to have a charity game with celebrities, either a) put real money behind your effort, or b) make the players match, double, triple, or quadruple the amount you’re willing to donate. In fact, here’s choice c) do both a and b. The charities, and perhaps the world, would be a lot better off because of it. And next time, I won’t be insanely disappointed when a bunch of millionaires get on your show and get excited for donated less money than they have paid in fines.



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