Where is MY Money?

Contract Pic- Poli Sci

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 oGovernment, 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.

NFL Sunday hard hits

NFL Sunday hard hits

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?

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4 thoughts on “Where is MY Money?

  1. This is an interesting post. I had no idea that contract were not guaranteed in the NFL like they are in many other sports. I thought it was also important to make the distinction between Locke and Hobbes, and the fact that the players should be guaranteed their salary. I think the issue with the NFL is, like you said, the average career is 3.5 years. Organizations do not want to have to pay a player given a six year contract for the last three years if they are injured or their career ends in the first three years. This is the only reason I can think of that would make sense. I also agree that they should be guaranteed, unless they violate rules or laws.

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  2. This post is complicated because from a humane perspective, I believe all NFL contracts should be guaranteed because that is fair. But from an economic perspective, if someone isn’t producing enough to equal there salary or isn’t producing at all, they should be cut from the team and no longer paid. I believe the NFL should implement something similar to the NBA’s amnesty clause. Every time a CBA is signed, each NBA team is granted the ability to cut 1 person without having there salary count on the teams books. Given that an NBA roster has 12-15 players and an NFL roster has around triple that, maybe the NFL should implement 3-4 amnesty clauses. Therefor, players who deserve guaranteed contracts get them and those who don’t do not.

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  3. I found your analysis interesting in regards to the risk of the player for serious injury without the guarantee of a contract, but when viewing it from the owner’s perspective I think it is different. With the inherent risk of playing football, injuries are bound to happen. Teams are strapped financially with salary caps and other restrictions and the payment of contracts to players injured or not playing would be debilitating to the team. We see quite frequently in other sports like baseball how many players do not make it to the end of their contract or are not worth the money they are due, but the team is still obligated to pay them. This affects the ability to sign other players and be more financially flexible if the player is unable to play and the NFL has established a system where they are not bound by these risky commitments to players whose careers could be over on one play.

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  4. I agree with you because performance could be an economic issue between owners and players but how can these players feel any sense of security knowing they may not be able to support their families. A lot of times these owners seem selfish for not wanting to give a player all of the money they signed for just because they are injured.

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