Another typical NFL offseason is underway. A few season ending, non-contact injuries have happened. A team is in the midst of changing cities. The NFL Madden cover curse now has a target (talking about you Gronk) and Hard Knocks is still being detested by coaches and embraced by owners.
The business of the NFL is now a 365 day a year event. Scouting, combine, pro days, Senior Bowl, NFL Draft, free agency, rookie camp, OTA’s, minicamp, training camp, pre-season, regular season, playoffs and of course the Super Bowl. It’s a merry-go-round of continuous challenges but never forget it’s a business. The rah-rah stuff is just how they market it.
Owners, on the whole are the 1% of the 1%. Billionaire class. Ruthless. Businessmen who use public funds whenever they can and walk to the bank on the injuries and broken promises that constitute the short career of a professional athlete. If you’re convinced players are evil and your team is perfect you’ve been fooled. Most people have no real concept of how much money these guys are worth or of the information bubble they keep themselves in. The public facade is just that. An image. Nothing more.
The flip side of this business model is the players themselves. The days of NFL slave labor are (thankfully) gone but the business friction between the two sides is as fresh as ever. Owners are businessmen first and conduct themselves as such (remember the “ruthless” statement). Players on the other hand are athletes first and use agents to help them with the business side. On the surface this seems equitable. It’s not. Players continually get horrible advice from agents and the system is to blame.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford – $36 million over two years after acquiring a .405 winning percentage thru five years with breakdown stats of 78 TD’s and 52 INT. $18 million is guaranteed.
Los Angeles Rams QB Nick Foles – $24.5 million over two years after posting a snappy .528 winning percentage thru four years with breakdown stats of 53 TD’s and 27 INT. Almost $14 million is guaranteed.
Both QB’s decided this offseason to skip voluntary workouts because they were “unhappy with their situation.” Both agents should be fired on the spot.
Business negotiations are about leverage. Neither player had any. What they’ve done is:
- Harm their standing with their teammates
- Created dissension between the player and the team
- Directly impacted the players ability to perform at a high level
This is done under the guise and direct guidance of their agents. Opps, forgot to mention. Agents get new clients primarily by bragging about the size of their (ahem) contracts. They are not judged on the amount of money a player receives but rather by the size of the contract when penned. With most large NFL contracts designed to be negated before the end of their deals it’s fools gold for the players at signing and worse when the agents convince players to take stupid stances to placate egos. Bradford and Foles are perfect examples.
Both players have competed almost their entire lives. Now however each QB has decided to throw a hissy-fit because their respective teams looked at what they had and decided to upgrade. Crappy career stats have a way of helping this decision process along.
The agents for each guy should have explained to them the harsh reality. The two players are getting payed millions of dollars to compete for their teams and instead of fulfilling their obligation they are screwing with team chemistry. Not smart.
Each player (hopefully) want’s a shot at a gig with a future team. As a GM would you pin your hopes on a disgruntled employee or a shiny new face with lots of upside? Exactly.
Personally I think the Players Union screwed the pooch not negotiating guaranteed contracts. Baseball and basketball have them. Owners can cut players at anytime with only salary cap considerations to consider. Players can’t quit a team when the situation conspires to impact their careers. That’s messed up.
Owners will be around long after a players short career is over. Players have a finite span of time to monetize their skills and deserve every penny they receive. Agents should be a players best friend (Jerry Maguire moment) but to be frank, that’s not the case. Agents look out for agents. Not the player. Not the team.
To wrap this up the agents for Bradford and Foles signed off on getting their guys “prima donna” labels and probably greasing the rails for their eventual NFL exit. I’m all for a player getting as much money as they can. They deserve it. What I don’t get is damaging a players value while getting paid millions and getting nothing in return.
Bradford is now back in camp. Nothing has changed other than his teammates wondering what he’s been smoking and the rest of the NFL aware of his soft psyche. Foles is still out and the team has decided to embrace his awkward stance sensing the end is neigh. Ultimately the players are adults and responsible for their own actions. However I’ve been around the league a long time. I understand the relationship between players and agents. Believe me when I tell you the agents were fully on board with the recent childish fits both players displayed.
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is run by agents who use players as their mouthpieces to extract as much money as possible from the NFL via commissions. The players are (again) the vehicle used versus the valuable resource protected. Agents decry Tom Brady taking “less than he’s worth” so he can build a winning team around himself and make major bucks through sponsors and career longevity (I’m talking about you Florio). How dare a player think of himself first! Agents actions speak volumes. Owners make bank. Agents make bank. Players on the whole are abused and left on the side of the road after their short careers burn out.
I love the game. I loathe the business. Another typical NFL offseason.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over