Ed and I have vastly opposing views on this topic here, which has led to plenty of spirited and hilarious conversations, whether on the phone, Twitter, or in person. Accusations of Benedict Arnold will rise out from within me, only for Ed to come in and provide an alternate perspective. In all honesty, both of us have made good points, but it does pose a serious question: when it comes to money, how big a role should it play, and when is enough truly enough?
Now there is a form of hypocrisy, because I don’t call any players in the NFL a Benedict Arnold, because they can be cut anytime, and when they get cut, they can forget about seeing any money that’s owed to them. More than ever, you’re seeing players get cut by teams, because they may not want to pay a roster bonus due to them (ex. Thomas Jones in New York), so when football players go back on their word, it’s totally understandable, because they’re doing what they've got to do. The hypocrisy does stem in basketball, though. When a player gives his word, a la, Carlos Boozer or Elton Brand, only to leave for more money, there’s a serious problem there. Yes, in the case of Boozer, Utah offered a substantially higher amount of bread than Cleveland did, but he gave his word to Cleveland that he’d stay, and since $40 million is more money than one can spend in their lifetime anyway, the importance of keeping your word should rule over a few more…well, $20 million more in salary. Now, it can look absolutely ridiculous to expect a man to leave over $20 million on the table, but once you give your word, that should mean something, shouldn’t it? As for Brand, well, there’s a post right here that sums up exactly how I feel about that turncoat. The common denominator is they both went to Duke, so what does that tell you?
In college football, it’s even worse. The fact that Robert Petrino can still get hired to coach a high-profile D-1 football program is beyond comprehension, because he’s the biggest coaching version of Benedict Arnold in recent memory. Some reserve that title for Lane Kiffin, but for some reason, I wasn't mad at him for leaving Tennessee for USC. There was even a Benedict Arnold post run on this very site about Brian Kelly, but even in anger, there was the underlying truth that Notre Dame has always been his dream job, so that was understandable, even if it was still wrong to bounce before the Sugar Bowl.
So once again, when do you say when? When do the values of authenticity, sincerity, and keeping your word take precedence over money? Is there such a thing in professional sports, period, or is it all masqueraded as “just business?” With contracts getting bigger and bigger, along with players, coaches, and owners getting more money than ever before, is this all wishful thinking? Honestly, there’s not a concrete answer to the question, or there would be no need to ask, but like the O’Jays sang in that classic, “don’t let money change you; it will keep on changing, changing up your mind.”