Listening to an unnamed podcast today, (I won’t name which one because you’ll probably go drive up their iTunes numbers as soon as you’re finished reading this) my eardrums were bludgeoned with an ideal that I had never thought about before.
A contract is a legally binding document.
You see, it was the hosts’ viewpoint that professional players–specifically NFL holdout and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson–should be in training camp because of one simple reason: He signed a contract and should be expected to honor it.
What a wholesome perspective! Actually honoring a contract! Shame on Jackson for wanting to get paid what players of his caliber should get paid!
Jackson will make $565,000 this year, roughly one-third of what fellow wide receiver and 2008 draftee Mario Manningham is being paid by the New York Giants.
Jackson, who was drafted nearly 50 spots ahead of Manningham, has nearly tripled the Giants wideout in both receiving yardage and total touchdowns over their careers. So you’ll forgive Jackson if he feels severely underpaid.
This isn’t a case of a past-his-prime veteran trying to make one last big cash grab before retirement either. After all, if it’s true that NFL teams pay players based on future value rather than past production, the Eagles should be falling over themselves to lock up a 24-year-old play maker with three solid years of experience under his belt.
But that’s not the case. And even if the Eagles were to sign Jackson long-term, they are under no obligation to honor that contract, even though Jackson is vilified when he asks for fair market value in exchange for his services.
It’s an everyday happening in the NFL. Teams sign players to multiple-year contracts with no intention of keeping said player for the duration of the agreement. Once a player is “used up,” he is cut without the money that his team swore in writing to pay him.
So why do teams get a free pass while the players get tossed out with the garbage?
It was these podcast hosts’ assertion that Jackson signed the contract, so he is obligated to honor it.
Yet the teams are free to get rid of the player whenever they choose with no repercussions? That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
Professional athletes make a lot of money. A LOT of money. But if they are talented enough to convince teams to pay them, then they certainly have every right to that cash.
It looks like the players have lost a lot of bargaining power with regards to holdouts under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. As an NFL enthusiast, I’m thrilled.
But after seeing the way Jackson has been treated, I sure am glad I’m not an elite football talent.
And after hearing the opinions of two analysts who have the ears of thousands, I’m not sure we’re moving in the right direction.