NFL: Why Fans Shouldn't Condemn Player Holdouts, but Understand Their Side
Every year in the NFL, there are several players holding out for more money, or at least threatening to holdout. Sometimes, a player is justified in asking for more money, sometimes players overvalue themselves.
This year, we're seeing examples like Drew Brees, Ray Rice and Matt Forte. They avoided a holdout by getting deals done with their teams before the franchise tender deadline passed. Drew Brees was the big winner, getting the richest contract in NFL history at five years and $100 million with a record $60.5 million guaranteed. If Brees had not been given that type of contract, he would've had every right to holdout.
People attribute holdouts to greed, lack of team loyalty or selfishness. However, none of us have ever been in this position. None of us are raking in millions of dollars a year for our company, and yes teams are companies like any other. When we're pulling in the kind of money a player like Drew Brees has generated for the New Orleans Saints, then we can see what we would do.
What player has meant more for their current NFL franchise than Drew Brees has meant for New Orleans? Not just the team, but the whole city. Brees has never gotten the contract of an elite quarterback in all his years in the league, despite the fact that he's played like one since arriving in the Big Easy.
Brees is just one example. Ray Rice and Matt Forte surely would've held out if they had not received the kinds of deals they did. Chris Johnson held out last year and ended up with a four-year extension worth $53.5 million.
Running backs are in the most vulnerable position of any player. They get hit the most, so their life span in the NFL as an elite player is really short. They have to get their payday early on, otherwise when they're on the wrong side of 30, they'll realize how much money they've left off the table and by that time, no one's paying big bucks for a 30-year-old running back.
Maurice Jones-Drew is a possible holdout this year, as reported by Yahoo Sports here, the Jaguars have insisted they are not giving him a new deal. MJD is in the fourth year of a five-year $31 million contract he signed in 2009. He's due to make $4.45 million this year, and $4.9 million next year. When Jones-Drew looks around and sees what Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Matt Forte are making, how's he supposed to feel? He's right up there with them among the elite running backs in the league; he should be paid accordingly.
Without Jones-Drew, who do the Jaguars have? They have a team with no chance at contending for the playoffs. Jones-Drew gives them a fighting chance.
It's hard for the average sports fan to wrap their head around these holdouts, due to the insane amount of money players already make, while the middle class is falling victim to a recession. Any of us would probably feel the same way though if we were in a different position. How would you feel if a colleague who's no more productive than you at work was making more?
Football players holding out is essentially what the average person goes through at work, albeit with much better salaries.
Don't go with the loyalty argument. Organizations aren't any more loyal to a player than a player is to them. They'll cut ties pretty quickly with a player, and then a bunch of money is lost. Players are just making sure they're protected if that happens, which is why guaranteed money is the last hurdle in every contract.
There are certain exceptions like Darrelle Revis, who already held out a couple of years ago. The rule of thumb, at least to fans, should be that it's acceptable for a player to voice his displeasure with his contract, or lack thereof once in his career, usually in his prime. It makes sense for a player to want his big payday in the prime of his career, does it not?
Sports is a business. Teams see it that way, and if players don't realize that, they'll be taken advantage of. Sure, their top focus should be winning games, but they have to be sure they're not getting low-balled. It's that simple.
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