Q. The National Football League recently fined four coaches $130,000 for breaking rules. That's a pretty big chunk of change, so I am wondering: What happens to the money from those fines and from similar levies upon players? -- Alan, of O'Fallon
A. You'd think the NFL honchos might give it to the Lingerie Football League to improve its officiating in case the NFL zebras strike again.
But, seriously, it's nice to know that the bad boys (and girls, I suppose) of sports are coughing up millions of dollars for good causes. In fact, some of it may eventually come back to help them down the road.
"Player fine money is used to support retired player programs as well as other charitable causes as agreed upon between the NFL and NFL Players Association," David Krichavsky, the NFL's director of community affairs, has told the Associated Press.
"Every letter notifying the player of a fine indicates where the fine money goes. I have gotten feedback from players who don't like writing the check to the NFL, but they are pleased to know it does not go back into our coffers but to charitable organizations."
Krichavsky says fines to coaches are treated the same way, and the payments come directly out of a player or coach's salary. In recent years, the NFL has levied fines that total between $3 and $4 million a year. In all, the NFL gives roughly $200 million a year to charity.
The fines have gone to support such causes as the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund (for the Chicago Bear player who died of embryonal cell carcinoma at age 26); the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Research Center; the ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) Neuromuscular Research Foundation and the NFLPA Player Assistance Trust.
But the money can be used for any pressing need. In January 2010, for example, the league gave $500,000 to the American Red Cross to help the hundreds of thousands left homeless by the earthquake in Haiti.
Some players do ask that their fine money go to a certain charity, and the NFL is solicited by various groups who suggest the money should go to them because of the nature of the infraction.
"Despite those requests, we stay universal in the way we disperse the fine money," Krichavsky said. "We don't cater to specific requests."
Not surprisingly, other professional sports leagues handle their fines in much the same way.
Although they're usually only a tiny fraction of what you see in the NFL, many fines in baseball go to a central fund shared by all teams, says MLB spokesman Rich Levin. In some special cases, the money may go to a charity of the player's choice.
In the National Basketball Association, money is split between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, with each choosing what charities will receive its share. It's more straightforward in the National Hockey League, in which all fines go to the NHL Players' Emergency Assistance Fund to help financially strapped former players.
Q. How did the word "fudge" ever come to mean evading an answer or not telling the whole truth? -- P.B., of Belleville
A. When it comes to making up stories, people often think that nobody does it better than an old sailor.
Well, meet the granddaddy of them all: a Captain Fudge who sailed the seas in the late 1600s. No, I'm not putting you on this time. In 1791, Isaac Disraeli, the father of the noted British prime minister, reportedly cited a pamphlet from 1700 that described Fudge as someone "who always brought home his owners a good cargo of lies." He was so good at spinning yarns that his nickname was "Lying Fudge," according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.
In any event, his name apparently reinforced an earlier usage of the word from the early 1600s meaning "to put together clumsily or dishonestly." That, in turn, may have grown out of the word "fadge," meaning "to make suit, fit" or the French "fuche" and German "futsch" as an exclamation of contempt.
What oil company opened the first branded service station? When? Where?
Answer to Sunday's trivia: James Dean missed the fights of his life when he crashed his Porsche Spyder into Donald Turnupseed's Ford Custom on Sept. 30, 1955. After his work on "Giant," the young acting phenom was slated to play Rocky Graziano, a troubled soul who found his way through boxing, in the 1956 movie "Somebody Up There Likes Me." Instead, Dean died in the wreck and the Graziano role launched the career of Paul Newman. More trivia: Dean earned the first-ever posthumous Oscar nomination for "East of Eden" and earned a still-unmatched second nod for "Giant." Turnupseed died of cancer in 1995.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com