Since first hearing about Sheldon Brown's ultimatum on Friday, I've learned two things:
First, the chasm between the average fans' perception of money and the average professional athlete's is grown into the Grand Canyon.
In response to the critics, myself included who think that Sheldon Brown is paid well for the player he is, Brown was quoted as saying:
"Everybody is saying this is only about the money and that I don't know what's going on in the world. Don't you think I have family members who live in the real world? Don't you think I have family that has struggled in this recession? I'm not worried about how people feel about me. When I'm done playing football, I'm going back to South Carolina and I won't have to listen to 610 or Joe Banner. Everybody has the right to their opinion, but if you think it's about the money, you're crazy."
The only intelligent morsel I can glean from this is the fact that he hates WIP 610, an opinion I share and I'm proud to be a loyal non-listener since 1995.
The rest I find condescending and insulting. There's not a person on the planet who's family is not affected by this current economic situation. Rather than take on the burden of lifting the entire family out of their situation, we help where we can and we pull together as a unit.
If so many of us thousandaires are doing their best to make it and succeeding, I find it difficult to believe that Brown is starving.
But for the sake of being objective let's say he is. He has several things going for him that many do not. He has a current job with a salary. He's also a professional athlete, a somewhat popular one at that, he could get his hustle on as the kids say.
He could do Mall appearances and the like. He could auction off memorabilia. He could (gulp) simplify his life as many of us have done.
Who ,reading these words, hasn't had to give up some of the things we want in order to keep the things we need?
"When I did the deal, I knew it was a good deal. Nobody could anticipate that the CBA was going to go up 40 to 50 percent. Nobody wants to talk about the owners being billionaires and how they won't open their books."
I thought that was why contracts increased year over year? So when you spend up your bonus money for signing, you salary is increasing each year to compensate.
Most of us get a similar increase and it's normally between 3-12 percent not the 40-60 percent most players see.
We know the owners are billionaires and most of us really don't like the fact they are, but players aren't broke. And none of us get paid anywhere close to what the owners of the companies we work for make. We make the money, they spend it. You want to change that, you'll have to change the entire capitalist system the economy is based on. Although I'd support that, I don't see it happening.
Second, I've learned that managing a franchise is nowhere near as easy as Franchise mode on Madden would have you believe it is.
Often my favorite part of playing a Madden game is not the regular season or that weak celebration of winning a Superbowl. For me nothing beats going through the process of retired players, restricted free agents, the draft; all that stuff is fun for me.
I guess that's why it's called a video game huh?
Since going to the Superbowl, the Eagles have had to deal with: T.O. aftermath, McNabb's knee injury, the drafting of Kolb fall out (well they brought that one on themselves), Andy Reid's personal problems, Westbrook's new deal, Lito's whining, the benching, Jim Johnson's health issues, B-Dawk's departure and now this.
Joe Banner said:
"DeMarcus Ware had 20 sacks this year, led the NFL, right now he's making a million dollars next year. Have you heard anything from DeMarcus Ware?"
"Tom Brady's gonna make $14 million over the next two years. That's $7 million a year. The top-paid quarterback in the league's making 16 (million). Have you heard anything from Tom Brady? By the way, Tom Brady's got two years left on his deal. DeMarcus Ware has one."
"And I could give you example upon example. He (Sheldon Brown) has four years left on his contract, received a very sizable signing bonus as part of the deal. That has to be factored into the value of the two years he's played under the contract this coming year, whatever it was. And that's the only reasonable way to look at it."
Among my circle of friends I've often compared Joe Banner to Mr. Burns of Simpson’s fame. There's an episode in particular where Burns is claiming to be broke and his ceiling caves in to reveal a flood of gold coins and jewels that land on him.
While in the midst of all this money he says: "See the place is practically falling apart."
That's good comedic timing.
However in this situation and so far only in this situation I agree with Banner.
It's not like two years ago Brown was some naive kid out of college just looking for a paycheck. It's Not as if he didn't have an agent right there trying to get the max.
Paul Domowitch for the Daily News tries to paint Brown as the team first guy who does everything he's asked and has never missed a day of work. He does a fine job of it, but that's not the thing in question.
What happens if his deal gets restructured and he plays lights out next year? Will he want to re-visit the contract he just had redone?
What if he breaks his consecutive streak and misses some games or the whole year? What effect is redoing Sheldon's deal gonna have on guys who've just signed or don't like their own deal? You think the rest of the guys on this roster aren't watching this play out and waiting to see what happens?
Banner went on to say:
"The thing that distressed me was I heard today that he had said that anybody who thought this was about the money was crazy. He needs to tell his agent that because we have had no conversations with his agent that have been about anything but the money."
"Now only two years into the deal with four years left, you know...James Harrison was the defensive player of the NFL last year, probably almost single-handedly responsible for the Pittsburgh Steelers winning the Super Bowl. He made less than one-and-a-half million dollars last year."
"And now in the last year of his contract, the Steelers stepped in and gave him the adjustment. We're talking about somebody with four years left in their contract. I don't believe there's a single player in years with that much time left on his contract that any team, including the MVP of the league, went to, so you have to have some perspective on this."
And yet most of us are so quick to criticize, myself included.
The bottom line is: you could say that Brown's body of work deserves a pay increase and you would not be wrong.
Conversely, you could say that he had his opportunity to sign a shorter deal, or become a free agent and capitalize on his worth and he didn't, so tough tamale,s and you wouldn't be wrong either.
The one thing you know for sure is that this will not end well at all, and that is a shame.