With the NFL draft bearing down upon us, I am once again reminded of a huge pet peeve of mine that shows no signs of going away and every sign of getting worse—draft picks holding out for more millions on top of guaranteed money. Every year you read or hear about some kid with a hugely inflated sense of self-worth basically extorting a team that in most cases has already made him a millionaire without playing one second of professional sports.
Worse, the teams let the players—or, more to the point, their agents—hold them hostage.
Every time I see this I swear that I’m going to go in to my boss and say, “You know, I’m gonna be awesome, why don’t you just pay me like I already am?”
Since no major league baseball player immediately starts in the big leagues it’s less of an issue (although holdouts there are far from unknown), but football and basketball? Stop the freaking madness.
Playing sports is a job, and if you’re going to give someone tens of millions of dollars before he even sets foot on a field or court what kind of motivation is he going to have to play well? That’s right—zero.
You would think with the number of times the NFL has been burned on top draft choices—overall the NBA has had more success with their bonus babies—they’d stop and say, “Hey, maybe we should see what this kid can do before making it rain for him.”
Nope. Add in that many times these are young men from bad parts of the world with nothing resembling basic life skills, and it’s time to crack the beer and enjoy the train wreck.
Signing bonuses have been around in various sports for half a century, and it’s certainly a team’s prerogative to sweeten the pot with upfront money to gain a coveted player. But if it were up to me, no rookie would be allowed to hold out.
Come in, I’ll pay you the league minimum (in the NFL last year that was $295,000, which ain’t chump change) and you show me what you can do. You play up to your potential, then we’ll start negotiating. Until then shut up, noob, and go watch game film.
Let me slap your greedy agent upside the head while I’m at it.