Beyond the safety side of things, the ugliest aspect of professional sports has to be undoubtedly the business side, and one must admit that the ugliness comes from nearly all directions. The NFL is far from an exception, and in fact may be one of the uglier sports business enterprises.
For a multi-billion-dollar industry such as the NFL, they are often perceived as greedy when it comes to collectively bargaining with the players’ association as they look to receive the lion’s share of revenue, as opposed to passing a larger piece of the pie on to the players.
But the players themselves are far from immune to criticism, whether or not they publicly or privately behave in a way that indicates dissatisfaction with their level of compensation, but especially if they do. And that appears to have been the impetus for an open letter penned by agent David Mulugheta and published via Pro Football Talk.
Mulugheta notes awaking one morning to the news of leaked information regarding the details of a contract negotiation, though he does not specify whether or not it was a client. The news received a good deal of backlash, which led him to want to clear up some misconceptions, from the agent’s perspective.
In truth, most of the details that he discusses are likely things that avid readers of this site have been made aware of a number of times thanks to Dave Bryan’s diligent work in communicating about the nuances of the salary cap and contract details.
He starts off by pointing out that the NFL does not have fully guaranteed contracts, as other major sports leagues do, so that a five-year, $100 million deal is often far from what it actually appears to be on the surface.
Mulugheta writes that sometimes such information is leaked for the purposes of gaining leverage in the court of public opinion by teams in order to turn fans against a player, to be seen as greedy if they don’t jump at signing the deal, for example.
“Guaranteed money and other structural points are vitally important when negotiating”, he writes. “The goal is to negotiate as much guaranteed money as possible, while also creating a cash flow that will enable a player to collect as much…as quickly as possible, in order to avoid the possibility of getting cut due to diminishing skills, salary cap restrictions, or injury”.
His points are all well and good, to be sure, but he should also approach this with the understanding of an actual NFL fan, and not somebody who closes out an open letter by signing underneath his name, “NFL Agent & NFL Fan”.
Multi-millionaires, just generally speaking, are not often going to receive a great deal of sympathy from people living paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, maybe even to afford NFL Sunday Ticket so they can watch their favorite multi-millionaires.
There is also the fact that the salary cap means more money for one player means less money for the rest, and fans with a certain level of understanding of the cap might view this as selfish as well, prioritizing maximizing their own income in favor of constructing a better team by spending that extra money on more players.
For me, the bottom line is that the game generates billions and billions every year anyway, so the players should be entitled to their fair share of those billions, even if it might seem like an excessive amount for throwing and catching a ball. Every player is also an individual entitled to look out for their own best interests, a right nobody would want to refuse themselves. But that doesn’t always mean they will come off looking great to their fans.