For as much as the NFL might be a business, there are other things that take priority when the money part of the equation is taken care of and goes to the back burner. Granted, guaranteed money will always be a concern, but many players do value the experiences not only with their teammates, but also with the teams that they are a part of.
For some, that develops over time, but it’s more immediate for others. Take Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 first-round draft pick Terrell Edmunds, the rookie safety who became a starter virtually immediately, albeit due to the health circumstances surrounding the position at the time.
“You have to understand you are out here playing for more than yourself”, he told the team’s website recently. “You’re playing for the logo on the helmet. You’re playing for the Steelers organization and playing for all the guys who have been there before you and are going to come after you. You’ve got to have that mindset”.
Such a remark is no doubt refreshing following the offseason the Steelers have had dealing with the aftermath of their dissolving relationships with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, a pair of star players who spurned the organization, chiefly for money, but who conjured up other reasons after the fact to help justify their decisions.
Of course, the counterargument against this would be the one that Brown himself made, which is that players will say anything they think will help them get paid at the end of the day. Edmunds is only going into his second season, so he is far from hitting his hypothetical payday in the future.
But it can’t be all that way. After all, there are plenty of retired players who recall similar sentiments from their playing days, and who consider it an honor to take part in their former teams’ commemorative events.
The Steelers especially, of course, have a rich history, and their alumni are more often than not eager to participate, though there are always some glaring exceptions, chief among them in recent years being Troy Polamalu, though he was never the sort to go for such things in the first place.
With most things in life, the more you put into something, the more you get out. The better you represent yourself on and off the field for your organization, in the NFL, the more likely you are to be rewarded for it with finances and loyalty.
That often feels like a lost concept these days. To be true, organizations have an equally difficult time displaying loyalty, and the truth is that neither party is obligated to demonstrate that quality, because it is, indeed, a business at the end of the day.
But that’s not the part that the fans care about. They want players to want to play for their teams, and they want those players to be rewarded. It’s great when it works out that way and we don’t have to see how the sausage is made. We’ve had more than enough of a factory tour this offseason already.