SBJ/November 5-11, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL makes personnel, geographic changes in its political lobbying efforts

More than a year after the end of a politically charged lockout, the NFL is shifting its lobbying efforts, relocating the league’s top executive from its Washington, D.C., office.

Jeffrey Miller, a former congressional aide who the league hired four years ago as its first on-staff lobbyist, is ceding that role and moving to New York to focus on player health and safety issues from NFL headquarters.

Political lobbying will now fall under Adolpho Birch, senior vice president of law and labor policy. Birch has had a big hand in negotiating drug-testing issues with the NFL Players Association — in particular, HGH testing.

“This is an opportunity for both to work on additional projects,” said league spokesman Brian McCarthy, who declined to provide further reasons behind the moves. McCarthy said the shifts do not in any way represent a diminution of the league’s Washington presence, with Birch based in New York and responsible for areas other than lobbying.

The NFL’s Washington office will remain open and still has two employees who were hired by Miller, vice president of government and public relations, McCarthy said. He added that the league will continue to use political consultants.

At the time the NFL hired Miller, the Associated Press quoted him saying, “The emphasis is to have a full-time person spending every waking moment thinking about how what Congress or the administration is doing is going to affect the NFL’s business model.”

During the buildup to the lockout, and during it, Miller played a key role in urging Congress to remain on the sidelines during the labor standoff, which ended without the loss of any regular-season games.

Among the big political issues on the league’s plate today include the lack of HGH testing, state efforts to legalize sports gambling, the league office’s nonprofit status and concussions.

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