An area businessman who runs a charity golf tournament and plays in others was asked the other day if he would be teeing it up Monday in the first NFL Alumni Washington Chapter tournament at Indian Spring Country Club.
"No," he said, tersely. "Why should I give them $300 so they can go out on strike again?"
That view, said Andy Stynchula, the former Redskin defensive end and chairman of the tournament, exemplifies the initial reaction to the national group's series of celebrity golf tournaments. Until the group explains its goals.
It started as a dream a few years ago, Stynchula said, with three aims in mind: to raise money for the alumni's Dire Need Fund, which benefits pre-1959 players who receive no NFL pensions; to build a hospital devoted to athletic medicine, and to build a retirement home for former players.
Now the tournaments -- which started in two NFL cities last year, will be played in eight other league cities this year and may be expanded to all 28 next year -- benefit healthy youths (Pop Warner football), infirmed youths (the Special Olympics) and various local charities.
"It's been easy once we tell our story to people," Stynchula said. "They are giving and loving the idea. They find it very acceptable.People constantly criticize athletes for the money they make. We've got nothing to gain from this. We're just trying to help these kids out."
A host of current and former Redskin and NFL stars will captain 40 fivesomes Monday in a scrable format. That is half what the tournament could handle, but Stynchula says a profit already is assured for the first year.
Stynchula said the NFL alumni tourneys could raise $2 million after expenses in two years if the idea catches on in every NFL city. The NFL alumni recently have been rebuilding and reorganizing into a national organization, with local chapters. In the past, there was no national leadership.
Last year's tournaments, in Philadelphia and Detroit, raised more than $100,000 for charity, Stynchula said.
Under the current setup, the proceeds from each of the chapter tournaments (there is a national championship tournament for the local winners Aug. 3 at Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio) will be split 50-50 between the national headquarters and the local chapters.
After the tournaments are over, Stynchula said, the national office will decide on the distribution to the Dire Need Fund, the Special Olympics and Pop Warner. Stynchula said the local chapter will make donations to the Washington Special Olympics, Almas Temple Shrine Charities and other charities yet to be selected.
In addition to the $300 entry fee each contestant pays to play with the likes of Jim Brown, Night Train Lane, Joe Theismann, etc., the NFL alumni also sell corporate sponsorships for the various tournament functions.
For instance, the Redskins are the corporate sponsor for The Sponsor's Party. They paid $3,000. Markers at each tee have been sold to sponsors for $1,000 each. However, no sponsor came forward to pick up the awards banquet, which costs $20,000.
Nationally, the tournaments have picked up such sponsors as Volkswagen and Budweiser.
The NFL alumni have not been able to put much money from their chapters into the Dire Need Fund, but have depended on NFL Charities for the last six years. Last year's NFL Charities contribution was $180,000.
The Dire Need Fund paid up to $10,000 each for 33 former players last year.
"The pre-1959 players are not eligible for the retirement plan," said Jim Ricca, a former Redskin whose advertising agnecy is publicizing the tournament. "Someone has to be morally obligated to help these guys who are really our founders, if they need the money because of injuries or bad breaks." r
This is who the NFL alumni represent. That businessman had his groups mixed up.