Money and fame—these are the first major benefits that come to mind when you imagine what life is like for a professional athlete.
It makes sense: Pro athletes offer a rare talent in an industry that generates billions of dollars despite employing a relatively small workforce.
One wrong step can shred a person’s knee, so athletes protect themselves with contracts—something most of us will never see over the duration of our careers. And because at their core, sports are a form of highly demanded entertainment, athletes are as natural being spokespersons and philanthropists as they are being the subject of breaking news.
Yep, money and fame are the big but very narrow labels for the contrast that is the pro athlete’s life compared to us dudes and ladies.
You and I, we pay for everything—other than the occasional buy-one-get-one-free deal, what the average person gets in life is limited by what they can pay for…or are handed down.
For athletes, the contract, the headlines—these are only a key that opens a veritable Pandora’s Box of power and prestige simply not compatible with our universe.
The kicker? By and large all of things are as awesome as they sound.
Yeah, there are always sad stories about men and women who soared to the top, only to lose it all. But while these are good parables that help put the precious value of our humble existence in the right perspective, they don’t change the fact that we will never receive a complimentary crate of Skittles.
These are 21 of the thousands of reasons athletes’ lives are way better than ours.
Literal piles of money. See that photo? Think it's some stock photo of cash I grabbed from the interwebs? Or perhaps a police photo of evidence confiscated during the course of busting an international drug distribution operation?
Nope! Not even close.
It's an actual photo I grabbed from the Twitter page of Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace.
I'm not a financial planner or anything, but it looks like he's doing pretty well.
Maybe he thinks he has less money than he really does because he keeps cashing all his game checks and forgetting where he left his pile of money.
Check under the couch, Mikey! I always find such a weird array of crap under there when I clean.
Eventually it's going to seem a bit like I'm picking on LA Lakers looney Metta World Peace, but that's really not the intention. I actually like the Lakers and have an inexplicable fondness for the guy.
It's just that he happens to personally embody so many of the reasons why athletes' lives are so much better than the lives of non-athletes.
If Metta World Peace didn't play in the NBA, he'd just be Ron Artest—your local neighborhood crazy person. He probably wouldn't even be allowed in a lot of bars, after years of unpredictable outbursts, let alone invited to drink for free while standing on the bar and freestyle rapping to an adoring audience.
Anyone who has ever been to an establishment that offers both alcohol and late-night karaoke knows that an audience will turn on you in a heartbeat if you don't stick to the script and scoot offstage the moment you finish belting out the best rendition of Rush's "Free Will" they've ever heard. (Yep, that's my song.)
Yet, Metta World Peace is given a carte blanche—along with a microphone, a disco ball and a free drink—to do just that.
A stunning miscarriage of karaoke justice, if you ask me.
Imagine having the kind of notoriety that, anytime you so much as mentioned a product that you like, that company would trip over itself to get you as much of it as possible—for free.
All you have to do is carry on with your life and keep publicly enjoying it.
The whole notion is so foreign to us regulars that it's difficult to even wrap your head around it.
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who can afford all the Skittles in the world, gets all the Skittles in the world for free.
That's just unfair—and even more of a reason athletes shouldn't go bankrupt.
Side note: I really love vodka. Any takers?
Remember when San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson wore this (see photo) spandex tuxedo and accompanying fashion cane to the ESPY Awards in 2011?
Of course you do! Everyone does.
The spectacle that Wilson's spandex covered lunges created on the red carpet were the talk of the interwebs for weeks following the event. He was basically crowned King of America.
But what if the shoe were on the other foot? Indulge me on this.
Imagine that your boss invites you to a third-party award ceremony that recognizes the best of the best in your professional field—whatever that may be.
Now imagine the look on your boss's face when you show up to meet him (or her) in the lobby of the event, decked out in the best spandex tuxedo that money can buy.
He's looks pretty angry, doesn't he?
And he doesn't even care that you are wearing the finest spandex tuxedo in all the land—because it's still a spandex tuxedo.
He's going to fire you, isn't he?
And here you were thinking he was going to throw a parade in your honor!
That's why athletes have it so much better than you.
This one doesn't really need much explanation. We all know that many athletes cheat on and kick to the curb women more beautiful than any of you will meet in your lifetime.
And there are the skilled few who have the ability to recognize that they have reached the pinnacle of their girl-getting career. Who eventually opt to put a ring on it, settle down in a mansion that could house a small army and get down to business.
Naturally, the "business" to which I'm referring is making beautiful, athletically gifted babies who will never know what it's like to live in the real world.
That's right! I'm looking at you, Brady-Bundchen-Babies. Curse you and your future lives of resplendent luxury and unlimited success!
We can only hope that Eli Manning's kids go into the same career field and continue to be a pox on Brady's house.
Remember all those summers you spent holed away in your filthy bedroom playing video games and eating cheese straight from the can? They were pretty amazing.
But wouldn't they have been even more amazing if your mother weren't riding your ass day and night about cleaning your room? Or getting a job? Or making real-life friends? Or going outside every now and again, if only to prevent scurvy?
And wouldn't your life be better now if your girlfriend weren't always on your case about the same damn things?
And if society weren't so judgmental about your life choices and everyone could just respect each other's life choices and shut up already?!
Welcome to the life of a professional athlete.
These guys have five months of vacation each year—plus religious and federal holidays—to park themselves in front of the television for 12-hour Call of Duty marathons.
And that's just what many of the younger guys do.
So how come when Maurice Jones-Drew and Arian Foster engage in the exact same type of anti-social behavior, ESPN throws them a party to celebrate? Has ESPN ever showed up to watch you play Tecmo Super Bowl shirtless and eat chip crumbs from a coffee mug?
I didn't think so.
I used to be kind of judgmental about the athletes I follow on Twitter who are constantly posting pictures of the latest additions to their massive sneaker collections.
Trust me—there's only so many times you can see Dez Bryant letting his shoes ride shotgun before it becomes grating.
But a large part of that had to do with the fact that I assumed they had spent the afternoon shoe shopping, like those broads from Sex and the City, and dropped more money than I make in a month on them.
I assumed they bought their shoes because that's what people do when they want shoes—they buy them.
Well, that's what happens when we want shoes.
When Dwyane Wade wants shoes, Michael Jordan just sends him 50 pairs for free.
That's pretty much what happens when any athlete wants shoes—someone just sends them a pile of them for free.
Must be nice…must be really nice…
I follow a large number of athletes on Twitter and notice that many of them seem to have adorable, well-behaved pets that seem stolen from a Disney movie about well-behaved animals.
Maybe they are just trying to put their pet's best paw forward on social media and save all the photos of them peeing on the bathroom garbage can and frantically ripping up socks for a smaller audience.
But I find it hard to believe, for instance, that Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward's precious pooch has an insatiable appetite for destruction.
As someone who has looked into the cold, dark eyes of three dogs hellbent on destroying everything I hold dear for over a decade, I can recognize an animal who gets his or her jollies from being the pervader of human misery.
Non-life-ruining pets probably cost extra—which is why professional athletes can afford them.
And why you're stuck with your girlfriend's cat, who stays up all night and alternates between ominously watching you sleep and keeping you up by chasing shadows around the house and slamming into things.
This one is going to hit home to all you Twitter folks who've been tweeting out glorious 140-character verbal gems for the last few years to an audience of 33 people. It's definitely personal to me.
I was very late to the Twitter game, but I can honestly say that I've been Twittering my ass off for the last 18 months and slowly built a following of just under 2,000.
I get it—I'm no Kobe Bryant. I'm terrible at basketball. I'm not friends with P. Diddy. I haven't had a high-profile feud with Shaquille O'Neal. I don't have any championship rings.
Whatever, I get it.
But it's just frustrating! Following me on Twitter would help ease the pain, though. Follow @blamberr
The real estate situation obviously goes hand-in-hand with the piles-of-money situation, but some athletes really take the game to another level. Most people would probably splurge on a swanky pad if they were suddenly in the financial position to do so.
Honestly, if I won the lottery tomorrow, the first thing I'd do is call a real estate agent. And when I hung up the phone, I'd write my landlord the FU email of my dreams, pack up my crap and leave without locking the door.
So I understand why athletes go a little overboard sometimes for the house of their dreams.
But there's a difference between dropping a few extra bucks on a little extra square footage and a fingerprint security system for your sneaker closet and building a customized mega-mansion from the ground up. Which, top to bottom, is large enough to house all of Buckingham Palace within its walls.
Why Tiger Woods (top photo) and Tom Brady (bottom photo) need houses that occupy two separate zip codes is a mystery.
Imagine if one of their children wandered off, innocently chasing a butterfly, it could be days—if not weeks—before they find the emaciated shell of that child deep within the walk-in closet of the 16th guest bedroom that they just couldn't live without.
I don't have a car. I don't even really want a car. I'm just not sure what all the fuss is about. Maybe my tune would change if I didn't live in a city with excellent public transit and had more money in the bank than I could ever spend in a lifetime.
Actually, I've always wanted a 1993 powder blue Chevy Camaro with T-tops—my grandma once bought one on a whim while visiting my car salesman uncle in Florida, and I was super jealous!
So maybe I'd drop a few hundred bucks on one of those bad boys. But that would be that.
I certainly wouldn't buy a fleet of them—someone would have me institutionalized. And I wouldn't keep buying car after car, each one more expensive than the last.
You can only drive one car at a time. Most garages are only built for a pair of them—at most.
So why do you need a semi-truck, a couple of Lamborghinis, a souped-up Hummer (that you went overboard detailing) and that Back to the Future Delorean you bought from Nicholas Cage's garage sale a few weeks back when you decided that day-time drinking was the best thing ever?
And neither do professional athletes. But you are not the boss of them, and they'll spend their money on whatever they damn well please.
I know that unions are considered hot-button political issue by argumentative wing nuts who like complaining about everything. And that's fine. I completely respect everyone's right to complain about everything.
This is America, after all. Your right to complain about everything is in the Constitution.
Actually it's not. But most Americans have no clue what the hell's in that thing. Although, your right to Constitutional ignorance is definitely in it. Wink ;)
Sorry that got off course.
I don't really have a horse in this race. I think the union issue is complex and there are pros and cons to their existence. But I'm probably wishy-washy on the subject because I don't have a union behind me to do my bidding.
Professional athletes, even those who are fundamentally opposed to them politically, have the luxury of being backed by some of the most powerful unions in the country.
Their unions have the the power to single-handedly shut down their respective sports indefinitely. They've got ownership, stadium operators and fans' collective, proverbial balls in a collective, proverbial vice grip.
That kind of power has to be intoxicating. Not that I would know anything about it...
It was always my dream to land a job that included traveling. It seemed so sophisticated and exciting!
Then I landed a job that included traveling and was immediately disappointed. The bad thing about traveling for work is that you usually have to…work. You have to eat dinner with your vile co-workers, go to bed early and meticulously document every single expenditure for reimbursement.
And then you have to be prepared to defend every one of those expenditures to an overbearing office accountant who wants to know why you needed a second muffin with your breakfast on a trip you took three months ago.
Maybe I was substituting muffins for alcohol and that muffin was the only thing that kept me from setting a controlled fire in the bathroom, in the hopes the sprinkler system would be activated; thereby damaging the PowerPoint projector and ending the meeting.
Did you ever consider that? Probably not...because it's crazy. Whatever.
But business travel for athletes isn't anything like that. I bet they can have all the muffins they want—no questions asked.
They get to travel via private plane, on which every middle seat remains mercifully unoccupied. Their expenses are paid. Their drinks are comped. Their meals are delicious. And the red carpet is rolled out for them in every city they touch down in.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson? Yep. There's an app for that.
Why in the name of all that is good and holy is there an app for that?
Well, I don't know. But there is. Apparently there are enough people out there who keep up on Stevie Johnson on so many different platforms that a demand to simplify the convoluted process actually existed.
The Stevie Johnson app is a one-stop shop for everything Stevie Johnson.
You want to know what he last tweeted? Check. (And by the way, his last tweet was "y'all be smooth. we outta here..")
How about his most recent status update on Facebook? Check.
His newest Instagram photo? Check.
Latest YouTube video? Check.
And how about his schedule, tickets (to things?), Stevie merchandise and a link to purchase his album? Check, check, check and check!
And to think…you didn't even know you needed a Stevie Johnson app until today. Now you'll never be able to live without it.
Just kidding. It's terrible! But at least it's free. For now.
I realize that almost anyone can have their own podcast, but it comes down to the proverbial question: If you broadcast a podcast and nobody listens, does it really exist?
My contention is no…no it does not not.
The fact of the matter is that most people really aren't interesting enough to warrant having their own podcast, including most professional athletes.
The lack of an audience is there to deter us plebes from this kind of nonsense, but athletes don't have to worry about that. Their antics come with a built in audience.
Which is why Mettaphorically Speaking: The Ron & Metta Show is a thing that actually exists—and has a 4.5-star rating on iTunes. So what can you expect from MWP's podcast? Kudos to you if you guessed nothing but a pile of crazy:
- First Look at Metta's Mixtape
- Frustrated Comedy on People Criticizing Metta's Mind
- Maximus Called Me the N Word
- Metta Falls in Love With a Twitter Girl Fan
- Callers Takes (sic) On Girls Being Called Hoes
- Bi Racial: Ron Confronts Metta
I'm not even sure what to make of most of this, so I'm not going to comment on that which I don't understand. I'm certainly not going to listen to this garbled nonsense.
The only thing I'm wondering about is…aren't Ron and Metta the same person? Anyone else starting to seriously worry about the mental stability of this guy?
Oh...everyone is? Okay. Good.
The entourage is a complicated beast. I would imagine that most start off relatively small, with a few close friends and family on the payroll.
Then you agree to add a couple of your friend's friends into the mix. Your mother convinces you to let your mentally unstable little brother and his meth habit tag along. That attracts an unsavory mix of drug dealers and strippers who slowly worm their way into the group.
And things just snowball from there.
When you signed your first contract, there was just one person charged with all of your unsavory personal errands. By the time you sign your final contract, you need three different people on hand just to go to the bathroom.
The entourage is a double-edged sword that is amazing as long as you can afford the overhead. P. Diddy can afford the longterm overhead. Most athletes can't.
Athletes with a massive entourage are sacrificing financial solvency tomorrow for a staff of people to tie their shoes, toast their waffles and tuck them in today.
So enjoy it today, kids! Because the transition back into the real world is gonna be a rough one.
Professional athletes get invited to pretty much everything. Award shows, club openings, charity galas, the White House, political fundraisers hosted by celebrities, ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremonies with giant novelty scissors—you name it, and Derek Jeter has probably been invited to it.
Hell! I once invited Jeter to my birthday party from the stands above the visitor dugout at PNC Park. He didn't attend. Snob.
But I guess my little birthday party pales in comparison to rubbing elbows with Kate Upton and Jon Hamm at the post-Oscars Vanity Fair party. I know that it doesn't hold a candle to chilling backstage at the ESPY Awards with Lindsey Vonn and Brooklyn Decker.
And my party drugs would look like garbage juice compared to the kick-ass drugs that Michael Irvin could score with his connections.
Kidding! I know he was holding that crack for a friend.
Also, I would never provide drugs at my birthday party. It's my birthday. Guests should be bringing me drugs.
Most of us live in a world where a lack of physical attractiveness and acting ability keep us off television and movie screens. It's the same world in which being completely devoid of musical talent and song writing ability prevents us from landing a record deal.
Sure, it's a harsh lesson for many people to learn, but in the end everyone is better for having learned it. You learn that your dreams of fame and fortune are misguided and settle into a life that is more conducive to your talents—or lack thereof.
And the unsuspecting public just goes on with their lives, never knowing the disgusting details of the bullet they just dodged.
Unfortunately, professional athletes don't have the same set of obstacles in place to protect the public from their musical holocaust and protect themselves from a lifetime of mockery.
They have too many well-connected friends who are willing to indulge their narcissistic fantasies.
Plus, they have an army of "yes men" on the payroll, but not a single "you really shouldn't do this because you will regret it for the rest of your life" men.
You really need a balance of the two if you want to avert disaster.
Have you ever had a friend try to change his or her name on you?
Probably not, because it's ridiculous to expect people who have known you all your life to suddenly start calling you something else, just because you said so. And if your friends are worth a damn, they will endlessly shame you until you back off from such an unreasonable request.
This actually happened to me in high school.
My friend Julie decided that she wanted to be called Julia and insisted all of our friends address her by her sophisticated new moniker. We did not comply.
Ultimately she went to college out of state, introduced herself as Julia to her new friends and built a whole new life as Julia—she really committed. And we were forced to come around after a decade.
So why is it that Julia had such a hard time convincing a weary public to call her by the name listed on her birth certificate and driver's license, but everyone seems to roll over and drool when Ron Artest decides to change him name to something as outlandish as Metta World Peace?
Or when Chad Johnson decides to become Chad Ochocinco and then switch back to Chad Johnson?
I'm telling you, legally changing your name more than once should be prohibited. You want to be Metta World Peace? That's fine.
But just understand that it will be the name that grace's your tombstone for all eternity. And underneath your name it will read: "Here Lies An Idiot."
There are a lot of people who say that athletes don't "work" because they are getting paid to do something that most of us would do for free.
But there's a reason they are paid big bucks to play sports for a living: It's because (most of them) are good at it.
Nobody is going to pay to see you and your overweight buddies from the volunteer fire department get drunk and attempt to play baseball for an afternoon. You might still have trouble drawing a crowd even if the admission were free and you were providing booze and medicinal marijuana free of charge.
But I digress.
My point was just that a job is a job—even if you think it's fun.
Although I must admit I'm pretty jealous of the generous vacation that comes along with that job.
At my first job in D.C., new employees received 10 vacation days—no exceptions. And for each full calendar year an employee remained with the company, they were rewarded with one additional vacation day for the next year. But the total number of vacation days was never to exceed 20. Basically a big "screw you" after a decade of loyal service.
Seeing athletes be rewarded with five months of vacation their first year on the job, and all subsequent years thereafter, just doesn't sit well with me.
They already get to play sports for a living and make tons of money doing it!
It would make me feel better if they were subjected to the sliding vacation scale that most of America contends with.
Athletes are arrested all the time for breaking all kinds of laws. The offenses range from relatively minor infractions like simple possession (of drugs) or disorderly conduct, to more serious offenses like murder and double murder.
All of this criminal activity is being perpetrated, yet very few athletes find themselves in jail for any substantial period of time.
Do you think there's any public defender in the world who could secure a 15-day prison stay if you were caught operating an interstate drug distribution center out of your home?
Well, that's what Jerome Simpson got.
Think you would keep your job if your boss knew you were arrested over the weekend for pistol-whipping someone from your hometown and then making him beg for his life while you held a gun to his head?
Well, Rolando McClain kept his.
Oh, and is there any jury in the world that wouldn't convict you of stabbing your ex-wife and her new boyfriend to death if there were even the slightest bit of physical evidence linking you to the crime?
Maybe, if your name is O.J. Simpson.
But then again, you probably wouldn't be sentenced to (up to) 33 years for orchestrating a plot to steal your own stuff back from someone who stole it from you first.
That has got to be eating The Juice alive during his mandatory nine years behind bars.
Speaking of the end! We've reached it. But this doesn't have to be the end for us—you can follow me on Twitter to continue the deep, meaningful relationship we've established over the last 21 slides.