CREW: Football lobbying on the rise

"With increasing scrutiny and coverage of the lasting, debilitating effects football careers can have on players’ health, the NFL has gone into damage control mode — pumping up its lobbying spending and donations to influential members of Congress," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement that accompanied the study. 

CREW also noted that Gridiron-PAC, the political action group formed by the NFL in 2008, spent $838,000 on federal races in 2012.

The largest recipient of those donations was House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who netted $30,000 from the group over the last two election cycles, CREW said.

Second in line was Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who was the leading Republican on the House Judiciary Committee when the panel held a 2009 hearing on head injures in the NFL. He received $25,000 over the last two cycles.

Tied for third, all receiving $20,000, were House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.).

Football issues made headlines on Capitol Hill on Monday after leaders of the House Oversight Committee said they would grill NFL players directly for an investigation of the use of human growth hormone (HGH) in the game.

Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) have promised to help the NFL and the players' union reach an agreement on an HGH testing scheme.