As sports fans, we tend to look at athlete's professional contracts like we look at a BMW 7 Series, a Breitling SuperOcean watch, or Emmanuelle Chriqui...those are all things we'd like to have in my life. Okay, maybe its me, but you feel me.
Also, as sports fans, we have a hard time dealing with what's "fair". When dealing with children, kids understand something as "not being fair" because things didn't go their way. As adults, we realize that "fair means nothing" and that's just how life is. In the last couple of weeks, players like Albert Haynesworth and Darrelle Revis are dealing with the perception of "what's fair" and to be real, I could care less. Fair is a personal thing, because you only have to be fair to yourself. For one player, he's fully paid...for another, he's trying to get paid in full. Both men, in my opinion, are doing exactly what they should be doing.
Let’s deal with Haynesworth first. The man is the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, and is known as the $100 Million Dollar man (even though his contract is worth realistically around $40-60M with performance clauses and guaranteed money). Now in his second year with the Redskins, he’s being asked to essentially switch positions from playing a traditional Nose Guard in a 4-3 defensive scheme, to playing Nose Tackle in a 3-4 scheme. You might ask, what’s the difference? Dude’s getting $100M, go out there and do whatever they tell you to do.
I get it. However, you wouldn’t go to the dentist and ask them to treat a broken arm, would you? You wouldn’t go to a personal banker and ask them to do your taxes, would you? So why ask someone, who you signed because he’s the best at playing defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, to do something he’s not as good doing? That sounds like a dumb investment of $100M. Sure he COULD do it, but that’s not his forte. They even let him go out and find a team to take on his contract, but who are the dummies that signed him to the absurd contract in the first place? Daniel Snyder and the Redskins management. Why is no one talking crazy about them? If they hadn’t had paid him that much, would we even care about this situation to begin with?
Now Coach Mike Shanahan is singling out Haynesworth and making him try and pass this fitness test, and what has he done? He’s putting Haynesworth health at risk. (Haynesworth has had to sit out of practice because of swelling in his knee) So know your 350-pound, $100M investment is now missing EVEN MORE time because you’re trying to prove a point. You know what, how about you pour gasoline on $100M cash and light it on fire.
With Darrelle Revis, he wishes he had Haynesworth problem. He is arguably the best defensive player in the entire NFL, yet he’s the 7th highest paid defensive back ON HIS OWN TEAM! The New York Jets have made a point to pay a ton of players this season, such as members on the offensive line, signing key free agents, and locking up the Rex Ryan/Mike Tannenbaum duo for the foreseeable future. However, they thought it was going to be okay to let Revis Island not get paid at all? Have you all not been paying attention to the Chris Johnson contract debates?
As I’ve gotten more accustomed to professional contracts, there’s a philosophy I’ve come to learn to help me process how and why players get paid the way they do. Here it is:
Professional contracts are given based on what a player WILL DO in the future, not on what a player HAS DONE in the past.
That’s why Terrell Owens only got a $2M contact + $2M in incentives this season. That’s why Sam Bradford got $50M guaranteed in his contract. It’s all about future expectations. If Terrell Owens goes out and gets 80 catches, 1000 yards, and 10 TD’s, then yes he outplayed his contract. What did T.O. do last year? 55 catches, 800 yards, and 5 TD’s. I’d say T.O. got a fair contract. If Sam Bradford lives up to the expectation of being a #1 pick, all-pro QB…then he’s worth every penny they pay him.
Here’s the deal though, no one is forcing these owners to pay these contracts. As players, it’s their job to get as much money as possible. We all see it’s an injustice that Revis is the 7th-highest paid DB on his own team. However, the man does have 3 years left on his current deal. If Revis sticks to his guns, he’ll either get his money or he’ll have to sit out. The question is this though…would you go out there and play the riskiest sport of them all making pennies compared to your contemporaries, knowing the philosophy I just gave you? If Revis begins to struggle, or has a knee injury…you don’t think the Jets wouldn’t hold that against him? If you do, I’ve got some wooden nickels to sell you.
Its all about getting “Paid in Full” at the end of the day, does anyone remember Jamal Anderson at the Falcons? The catalyst for the Dirty Bird, rushed for 1800+ yards and carried the ball more than anyone in NFL history, and helped ATL get to the Super Bowl. What did he do next season? He held out. Finally, the Falcons paid him generously. Two games into the season, he hurts his knee and is never the same.
I can’t be mad at Jamal doing what he did, he wanted to get paid just for that EXACT scenario. He got lucky, Revis might not get so lucky. Haynesworth is paid, but now he’s in a position to NOT succeed. I’m not saying their methods are the perfect way to go about it, but I understand their situations. Who am I to say when someone should go get paid, I’m not the one having folks diving at my knees and putting my ACL’s at risk on a daily basis. Go get your money.
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