October 2, 2009
Story and Photo by Ken Krayeske • 8:30 AM EST
Best shot I got from the January 2009 International Bowl of UConn running back Donald Brown, the 2009 first round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts. I've run the shot before.
7001 West 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46254
Dear Mr. Irsay:
We share mutual interests. In running your football team, you want smart, mature players who can handle the economic, social and physical pressures of professional football. As an advocate for free public higher education, I want strong institutions that can train and educate skilled young people who are prepared to meet success.
It seems in running back Donald Brown, your first round draft pick from the University of Connecticut, we have an example of that individual in whom we share an interest. Mr. Brown so far is having a decent rookie season for the Colts. In three games, he has 99 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown.
When you signed Mr. Brown to a five-year, $11.235 million contract, though, I couldn’t help but wonder if you shouldn’t be giving the University of Connecticut a contribution for helping prepare Mr. Brown to step right into the life of a professional football player.
See, Connecticut right now is facing a multi-billion dollar budget deficit in these tough economic times, and the state government is cutting services across the board. The University of Connecticut is bearing a heavy burden. In Spring 2009, Gov. M. Jodi Rell sought give-backs from all departments.
To meet the budget cuts, the University of Connecticut slashed its educational programs. For example, in the economics department, large 300-plus student lecture halls no longer have discussion sections. In the geography department, all adjunct faculty members have been cut. Professors and graduate students are losing jobs, and tuition is rising.
The painful reductions hurt students, who pay more, go deeper into debt, but receive less of an education. This impacts you, Mr. Irsay, because you need players who know how to budget out a multi-million dollar paycheck and find Indianapolis on a map. The NFL even stresses economic prudence and financial management in its rookie seminars, which Donald Brown just took part in.
While it might seem intuitive that the Colts should give to Indiana public schools before donating to Connecticut, just as you invested a significant sum in Donald Brown and are confident that he is part of the future of your backfield, the taxpayers of Connecticut did the same.
We Nutmeggers directed a fortune in tax monies to build a stadium and hire a top-rated coach to help your industry. I was proud when I watched Donald Brown scamper into the endzone against the Dolphins in Week 2 for the tying touchdown, knowing that my tax dollars gave him the room to grow as football player and young man.
I think other taxpayers in Connecticut, too, are proud. In fact, you may see a jump in revenue from new Colts fans in Southern New England, especially those among us who dislike your arch nemesis, the New England Patriots. See, some of us want to see you beat the Patriots year in and year out, and continue your success.
Make no mistake, the Colts can benefit from future UConn talent, as well. I understand that an area of concern for the Colts is a shortage on defensive line. Well, the Huskies have the player for you: his name is Lindsey Witten, and he is being mentioned as a candidate for the Ted Hendricks Award, an honor bestowed to players who demonstrate leadership and defensive prowess.
This may seem unorthodox, but I would respectfully request that you consider sponsoring the University of Connecticut to help rebuild its economics and geography departments to make sure that players like Lindsey Witten are ready to play pro football. I know it seems unconventional for a pro football team to back a public university, especially one that is not in its own state.
But these are tough times, and we need help from generous, wealthy men like you. It could be argued that perhaps you owe a similar debt to the public universities of Indiana, where citizens have generously opted to fund your stadiums through tax monies that easily could have gone to education. Clearly, voter priorities for the public fisc in Indiana and Connecticut has benefited you.
Professional football has been good to you, at least according to Forbes.com. You bought the Colts in 1972 for $15 million dollars, and today, Forbes estimates that the Colts are worth $1.076 billion, or the eighth most valuable NFL franchise. Perhaps it is time to consider redirecting that hundred-fold return on investment into public education to insure that you have a steady stream of players who will help you win, and make even more money.
Thus I opine that you, too, must help shoulder the burden of public education in Connecticut and contribute to our institutions that develop top rated talent like Mr. Brown and Mr. Witten for your benefit. Consider the Huskies as a minor league for your enterprise, a feeder system, as it were, to insure your success. We just need some help in doing maintaining the enterprise.
Perhaps you'd like a tour of the UConn campus in the rolling hills of Storrs. I would be more than happy to show you around. We could discuss the details of your contributions while we wait in line for ice cream at the world-famous UConn dairy bar.
Supposing though, that you can't find the time to come check out life in the quiet corner. You can simply write the first check and send it to the honorable Nancy Wyman, Office of the State Comptroller, 55 Elm Street, Hartford, Connecticut, 06106. Because the University of Connecticut is a not-for-profit institution, you will receive additional tax benefits for your contribution.
If you do this now, and show a good faith effort towards rebuilding American public educational institutions, perhaps people won’t get so angry that one future day, they decide to revoke the NFL’s status as a not-for-profit league and make you and all the other owners repay the generous taxpayers subsidies like free television airtime and highway and stadium infrastructure projects that you and your partners have enjoyed during the past four decades. I hope it never comes to this, as rich and poor all need to cooperate to keep America great.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration, and I look forward to your prompt response. I think that a partnership arrangement between the University of Connecticut and the Indianapolis Colts is in our best interests.
Kenneth J. Krayeske
University of Connecticut School of Law ’10