Day 66 of the NFL Lockout is coming to a close, and as the summer quickly approaches, the reality of a delayed or possibly non-existent NFL season becomes more plausible.
There is quite a lot of misconception out there about the lockout. Many people believe that the players are on “strike”. This is not the case; the players are simply asking to maintain the status quo and basically continue with the previous CBA. The owners are the ones who opted out of the existing agreement are actually seeking more money, because they are, “losing money.” I am sure by now you know all of this, but while these facts may seem redundant, it is important to remember the foundations of the two sides of the argument.
I’ll spare you the re-telling of a story you already know; how the NFLPA decertified and filed an anti-trust law suit against the NFL. How the NFL locked out its players in March, was forced to lift that lockout by Judge Susan Nelson in April, then appealed that decision to have the lockout re-instated by the 8th Circuit Appelic Court. Blah blah blah. We are currently in a holding pattern till at least June and so the lockout goes on while both sides rage an all-out war on each other for the battle for our hearts. For now, the result has been a backlash at both sides: End the Lockout. WE. want. football.
Myself and the other NFL writers at Aerys Sports have made an effort to keep our readers informed about the details of the lockout. But there is more than just legal leverage at stake here. While this has always been about ‘millionaires vs billionaires’, I propose we re-consider just whom we are calling millionaires.
Another common misconception is that all players are millionaires for life and that they get a 52 weeks a year salary over the course of lifetime career like the majority of this county. This, would be false.
NFL players are paid ‘game checks’ every week of the regular season (17 games) for as long as they are under contract. There will always be opportunities for additional income: signing bonuses, workout bonuses, sponsorships, etc. But those add ons are going to the minority, not that majority.
Yes, the Tom Brady’s and Peyton Manning’s of the word make a lot of money. For example, Brady’s 4 year contract extension in September of 2010 was for $72 million ($48.5 Mill guaranteed). (Note the guarantee part….). This is not including all the money Brady gets from his endorsements with Stetson, Ugg and of course, just being Giselle Bundchen’s husband. But these guys (Brady, Manning, etc) do not represent the standard for NFL Salaries. There are 52 members of each NFL Team and they make significantly less than these dudes, and they are the ones that this lockout will hurt the most. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will survive, as will Jerry Jones and Al Davis. Maybe the 3rd Left Tackle for your favorite team will not.
Business Week offered statistics on the average NFL Player Salary, with information provided by the NFL and NFLPA:
Average NFL player salary: $1.9 million
Median NFL player salary: $770,000
Minimum NFL Salary: $325,000
Average NFL career length: 3.5 years
Average NFL player age: 27
So let’s do a little math. Let’s assume that the player in our example is fortunate enough to be in the league for the average 3.5 years.
When we are describing the “typical” we always use the median over the average so lets assume that Player Joe makes $770,0007 x 3.5 yrs = $2,695, 000.000 in his NFL career. Player Joe will make approximately $45, 294.00 a week for 59.5 weeks of his life. (Not including taxes!!) Sure, this seems like a lot of money to you and me but keep in mind that those 59.5 make up their entire NFL “career.” Most of us work for a much longer period of time (which, according to the US Census Bureau, is 44 years).
For a little perspective, data for median lifetime salary for us non-Player Joe’s is 1.98 million. Compare this to median $2.6 mill and the minimum $1.1 mill for an NFL Player.
Obviously, regardless of the way we look at the numbers, NFL Players are making ‘more’ than you and I (on average..I don’t know your life story). I am not asking you to feel sorry for the players. I am not claiming that they don’t make enough money. What I am doing, is trying to point out that the league is not comprised of a bunch of guys that make $10 plus million dollars a year plus endorsements, tv shows, commercials, ads and appearances. It is made up mostly of guys making the median salary or less, trying to raise their families and set themselves up for the rest of their lives while they sacrifice their bodies and brains to the game the have worked their whole life to play.
My greatest wish is that we will stop being so angry at the players for being selfish and going on “strike” while they make all their money. The financial situations of the majority of these guys, who will leave the league with bad knees and backs for the rest of their lives, isn’t bad. But it’s not King Midas.
My other wish is that players will be smart with their earnings and their future, because an NFL career isn’t forever. Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post recently wrote an article about this very concept. and explains how he attempted to push a program with the help of the Directors of Player Programs that would, “allow the players to be take a full-year payment schedule over 52 weeks instead of 17.” The article is an interesting perspective on NFL Players and spending.
By the way, here is a little something from the SI.Vault:
-By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.
-Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.
-Both Mark Brunell and Michael Vick are currently bankrupt (according to National Football Post).
There is so much more to be said about these facts, but that is for another time.
My main goal in writing this is to educate. Both sides of the NFL Labor dispute have done things to anger us as fans. It is likely that until these two sides can sit down and reach an agreement, the anger will continue. Football is a sport loved by so many Americans who work hard for their m » Continue reading “The NFL Lockout: ‘Millionaire’ Money Matters”