Last year, the NFL made a serious effort to reduce its carbon footprint. The Philadelphia Eagles were the frontrunners on this, reaching out to their community to help plant trees, throw hints about recycling, and reclaim green space around Philadelphia. The biggest effort, though, came from the biggest event of the year: the Super Bowl. 2008 was the first time that the Super Bowl was funded by renewable energy, preventing more than 313,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, for a cost of only $5,000 extra to power the stadium. In addition, the NFL also planted 2,700 trees in a dozen places around the Hillsborough and Pinellas counties to help offset the game’s carbon imprint.
This commitment is a great start for the NFL to help reduce pollution, but one wonders, with all the monetary resources at its disposal, why the NFL does not do more. At a cost of $80,000 extra per week (assuming that the $5,000 figure is more or less the same across the board for an NFL stadium to run on renewable energy), or $1,360,000 per regular season, the NFL could play 16 games every week, all free of CO2 emissions. To compare this with a player, Hines Ward of the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers was due to earn $5.8 million this year, until he recently restructured his contract. Players are being paid almost four and a half times as much as it would cost to play games with renewable energy… And the NFL is a billion-dollar industry. Reaching out to the community, and playing one game under lights that were powered by renewable energy was an admirable first step, but a bigger commitment must be made. How about a full regular season under those lights, Mr. Goodell? Think of what kind of message you would send to all the other leagues about being conscious of our place in the world that way. Each team over a 16 game season, using renewable energy, would save 5,008,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. Per team. If nothing else, you would be able to look every taxpayer in the eye and say that you sincerely care about the carbon footprint that every man, woman and child leaves as their legacy. Think about it.