The National Football League (NFL) is a multi-billion dollar company that showcases the talents of the best football players in the world each week. Football is a barbaric collision sport that test the manhood of each player that steps on that football field on Sundays. These high caliber athletes put their bodies on the line each week for their families, the fans and most importantly their teammates. Football is arguably the most dangerous sport with the highest risk of injury that leaves permanent damages on the body. These courageous men play football because they love the game and it is their way of income. But unfortunately, not every player in the NFL has the satisfaction of knowing that their contracts are guaranteed. The NFL does not have guaranteed contracts like basketball, baseball and hockey, because most contracts in the NFL are based on performance. You perform well, you will be paid, if not you are in jeopardy of being cut and not receiving any compensation for your performance. Now, there are certain situations like JJ Watt, defensive end of the Houston Texans who recently signed a 6 year $100 million dollar contract and Calvin Johnson, wide receiver of the Detroit Lions who signed a 7 year $132 million dollar extension. Even though these men are the best at their position and two of the top players in the NFL, they still aren’t guaranteed to see all of their money. If they don’t perform on the field, suffer a career threatening or ending injury and are unable to play, they will not see all of their money. Why is that the case? Because the NFL does not have guaranteed contracts. These men are literally risking their mental and physical health each week for the love of the game, the least the owners could do is pay them for their labor?
In “SOCIAL CONTRACTS Excerpts from Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract.” Locke disagreed with Hobbes about contracts and who they should be between. For him, it was not just an agreement among the people, but between the people and the sovereign (usually a king). Locke argued that the natural rights of individuals (life, liberty, prosperity) limited the power of the king. The king does not hold absolute power, as Hobbes had said, but acted only to enforce and protect the natural rights of the people.
So, if contacts are not only an agreement between the people but between the sovereign, what are contracts good for? Contracts are good for requiring the employee and employer to keep their end of the bargain, and most importantly understand that if they don’t respect the contract and or don’t abide by the rules of the contract in any way, shape, or form that there will be consequences. Contracts also indicate that there is lack of trust and stability between the two parties because a legal document has to be intact for both parties to stay true their word.
Locke argues that contracts don’t insure absolute powers to kings which in this case would be NFL owners but they should be able to guarantee contracts for their players. According to Austin Porter’s article, “How far does a contract really go” he explains that the majority of NFL contracts are not actually legally binding to the team. Players are not guaranteed the money they are promised when signing the deal, they are only promised the money for the season they are currently playing. The most important part of NFL contracts are the signing bonuses because the player will receive all the money no matter what happens. Signing bonus are the only guaranteed part of NFL contracts. For example, when running back Chris Johnson signed his $13.4 million dollar extension with a $10 million dollar signing bonus, he was only guaranteed to see $10 million and the money for each year that he plays. So, if Johnson were to have a career ending injury or get cut from the team he would not receive his whole $56 million dollar worth of his entire contract. He would only receive his $10 million bonus along with his 2012 salary of $8 million which is only $18 million of a projected six-year, $56 million deal or 18 percent of his contract. Unlike the NBA, all the money on their contracts are guaranteed. Grant Hill signed a 7 year $93 million dollar contract with the Orlando Magic and he only played 47 games due to injury. But, over the 7 year span he eventually saw all $93 million. Not taking anything away from basketball but from a physical and mental standpoint the sport does not compare to football. NFL players take more of a beating on their body and have a higher risk of injury and permanent damage. The average career span of an NFL player is 3.5 years. There are so many factors that limit players from playing longer and competing at a high level. The human body can only take so much punishment and the fine line is different in every football player’s career. I believe NFL players deserve to have guaranteed contracts as long as they can play the game because in football, the next play is never promised. Do you?