What does it take to be one of the best?
From what you are about to learn, certainly not money.
Unfortunately, the sports world is filled with ridiculous contracts, most of which are given to those who truly don't fulfill the size of their check.
That is what this world of sports has become, and one would be foolish to never take full advantage of it.
The following are some of the richest in the world of sports, but they certainly wouldn't seem like it on the job.
Chris Berman is a great personality for ESPN, but come on—I'll be more than happy to say "whoop" for much less than the $3 million he makes a year.
Berman is a staple of the network, but the man no longer really appears on "SportsCenter," but rather just the network's weekly football programs.
Maybe if he headed over to the "Monday Night Football" crew, he'd be well worth his contract.
We can go around in circles all day about NASCAR being a sport or not (see what I did there?!).
Fact of the matter is, Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulled in a cool $28 million in 2011, according to Forbes.
Jr. is arguably one of the most popular drivers on the tour, so it should be no surprise that he pulls in so much money. But seriously—for driving a car?
But the reason it is most ridiculous is that he hasn't won a race since 2008!
I'm sure that isn't keeping him up at night.
The Cleveland Cavaliers don't have a whole lot to look forward to right now, but one thing they will be happy about is getting some cap relief once Antawn Jamison's contract expires after this season.
These past two seasons, Jamison has made over $28 million.
Jamison has actually had solid numbers, averaging 18 points per game in 2010-11 and 17.2 per night this past season.
Still, Jamison shouldn't be making nearly as much as he is. If he decides to keep things going—which seems likely—teams likely will expect him to take a major pay cut.
If ESPN wants to annoy people, I am sure it can find plenty of people who will do it for far less than the $3.4 million a year that Rick Reilly pulls in.
The worldwide leader in sports signed Reilly to a five-year, $17 million deal, according to Deadspin, which we saw lead to brief appearances on "SportsCenter" and other major events that they cover.
I actually really enjoyed Reilly's backpage stories over at Sports Illustrated, but I haven't come to like his TV work quite as much.
Perhaps it wasn't shocking when the Chicago Cubs gave Alfonso Soriano an eight-year, $136 million contract—OK, yes it was.
Sure, Soriano was coming off of a 40-40 season in home runs and steals for the Washington Nationals, but the guy also struck out 160 times during that 2006 season.
Soriano has been very hit-or-miss for the Cubs, but most of the time it has been the latter.
He reached 33 home runs during his first season with the team, but besides that, he hasn't ever come close again to that single season of 40 or more.
As for his base-stealing skills, Soriano has only swiped 55 bases thus far during his six-year career with the Cubs.
His "hop-and-catch" has caused much stir, as he misses easy fly balls, and he just really doesn't look worth the near $18 million a season he makes.
The Cubs still owe Soriano $54 million over the next three seasons, including this one.
If you're a Cubs fan, repeat after me, "Yay!"
After missing essentially the entire 2010 season do to a hip injury, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice was given more money from the Seattle Seahawks than he deserved.
Rice got a five-year, $41 million deal and only appeared in nine games this past season, recording just two touchdowns on 32 receptions.
It will remain to be seen if he will ever be the impact player he was with the Vikings, but as of now, it looks like the Seahawks may have taken a gamble that may not pay out.
When Ben Gordon played for the Chicago Bulls from 2004-09, he looked like one of the best shooters in the league. He was able to score, but he demanded a lot of touches.
When the Bulls refused to pay Gordon what he wanted, he opted to join their Central Division rival Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons gave Gordon a five-year, $50 million deal, which is just ridiculous. The Pistons have yet to reach the playoffs with Gordon, who had his best season during his first season with the team, averaging 13.8 points per game.
That is far from what he put up with the Bulls in 2008-09, where the skillful bench player averaged 20.4 PPG.
I don't know what is going on over at ESPN, but wow, do they pay their commentary well.
Former NFL head coach Jon Gruden does do his whole sideshow with players every so often, but for the most part, he is getting paid $4.3 million a year to sit in a booth on Monday nights for just 17 weeks.
No wonder he doesn't care to return to coaching!
Some people love him, and some hate him, but I think we all can agree that he is making way more than what he should be.
Once considered one of the NBA's premier big men, Philadelphia 76ers forward Elton Brand is still making big bucks.
Brand will be finishing out his contract next season, where he will be making over $18 million!
No disrespect to the former Rookie of the Year, but he certainly shouldn't be paid as one of top 10 players in the league.
In 60 games this past season, Brand averaged just 11 points per game and 7.2 rebounds, proof that he continues to be on a decline since his 20-10 days from his prime.
I'm sure Brand isn't complaining, but those 76ers would likely want to put that money elsewhere if they plan on making some moves this offseason.
Another player who was the product of some nice stats during a contract year, outfielder Vernon Wells of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim brings in some serious cash.
In 2008, he was given a seven-year, $128 million deal, which pays him $21 million a season over the next three years.
Wells has been a stud at times, but since being traded to the Angels, he has struggled.
In 2011, he batted a poor .218, but he had 25 home runs and 66 RBI. Besides the batting average, those numbers are not terrible, but they certainly aren't worth $21 million.
Wells has this season to bounce back, so perhaps he will show everyone why he got such big money. Or he could just play however and keep cashing the checks.
The fact that ESPN pays Skip Bayless to come on TV and just yell makes absolutely no sense.
Heck, Bayless only makes $500,000 a year, and I still think that is too much.
What did the job application state for requirements? The ability to rant for endless hours? The ability to still somehow try and justify yourself when you are caught wrong?
My friends and I argue the exact same way that he does with Stephen A. Smith, but I get nothing out of it!
Who was the highest-paid player in the NFL in 2011?
If you didn't already guess (hint: the slide is dedicated to him), it is Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson.
Yes, you read that correctly.
According to ESPN The Magazine's John Mastroberardino, Johnson was the highest-paid player in the NFL with a total paycheck of $34 million.
6 years, $72 million isn't exactly chump change, but a good front office can make that figure very manageable with smart cap management. In his contract $32 million was guaranteed, and the way most teams handle this is stretch the guaranteed money out across the life of the deal.
However, with the news the Panthers paid almost half of Johnson's entire contract in the first year, it leaves them with a manageable cap number.
So due to the front office being smart about this deal, we won't put this above some others. But fact of the matter is, $32 million is still huge.
The old CBA was a killer for NFL teams, especially for those who owned some of the top picks in the NFL draft.
Case proven with St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.
Don't get me wrong, Bradford is a promising player, but he isn't deserving of being the seventh-best paid player in the league at an average salary of $13 million. That includes players who are franchise-tagged as well.
In his only two seasons, Bradford has thrown 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 26 games.
Still much to prove, while making way too much.
The fact that Rashard Lewis is the second-highest-paid player in the NBA makes me happy that the league took all that time to figure out their new CBA because, honestly, it had to be messed up for this to happen.
Lewis will be playing out his final year of this contract—unless the team uses its amnesty clause on him, that is—for the Washington Wizards with a salary of over $23 million.
This past season, Lewis only played in 28 games, averaging 7.8 points per game. Yeah, definitely worth at least $22 million, right?
Obviously, nobody is going to take that money on, so at this point it would seem rather foolish if the team didn't pull the plug on Lewis in D.C.
So you are telling me that if I am rude, aggressive and fiery, I can make $30 million a year?
Well, if you didn't think so, that is what CBS Sports Network's newest star Jim Rome is now making since leaving his desk at ESPN.
Rome is another one of those love-hate personalities. You can't deny his ability to just go for it, but everyone also knows he likes to beat to his own drum.
Sometimes a bit too much.
Either way, the guy is now making some serious dough. He certainly is getting way overpaid, but that is the gamble CBS is willing to take as they have to compete for on-air spots with both ESPN and NBC.