In recent years, I have become surprisingly sympathetic for athletes and their fight for more money. As a sports star you have a relatively short amount of time to make your money — there is little loyalty in the sports business (ask Bernie Williams) and if you get hurt your career can be over in an instant.
So I am fine with players asking for big contracts — just not when they already have a contract.
I truly don’t understand the precedent set in the NFL of holding out for a bigger deal. If you’ve signed a contract, you have no right to ask for more money. You think you deserve more than you’re being paid? Fine. As soon as that contract is up, make your case. Better yet, let the fact that you feel you are underpaid motivate you to work even harder. But until you’re a free agent, I don’t want to hear about your contract demands. There is someone out there who will pay for much less than you are already making. I want my drama on the field, not off of it.
Holding out is ridiculous, too. You think hockey players hold out? Hoops stars? Baseball players? The other players wouldn’t have it. You’d be a pariah by the end of holdout day one.
What brought this to my attention was Texan’s all-world wideout Andre Johnson asking for a new deal and sitting out practice. There is no questioning Johnson’s attributes, he is a top five receiver in the league.
But no one forced him to sign his current deal. None of these players are forced, for that matter. They put their name on the dotted line. They are agreeing to that deal. They have no one to blame but themselves the predicament. If the players are so adamantly against the deal, don’t sign it! Or better yet, if they don’t want to “outplay” the contract, then don’t. Stop putting in the effort. Pull an Albert Haynesworth or JaMarcus Russell: Get fat and stop caring.
Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised. Not that I think that Andre Johnson is going to stop making cornerbacks look silly, and I don’t think he’ll stop putting in the effort. I’m just blown away by how some athletes are just in sports for the big payday and nothing else. I’m sure there are these types of players in every league, but the NFL sticks out in this regard. Haynesworth has spent more time complaining about his contract than he has on the field, not caring about pass rushing since he got the biggest deal for a defensive player in NFL history (while still having the audacity to throw a hissy fit about the 3-4 switch). Russell apparently cared so little about football after getting his payday that team officials would find him wandering the halls of the Raiders’ facilities when he was supposed to be in meetings like a kid in middle school trying to cut class.
It’s a joke. While some players restructure their deals so the team can go after more players, others are so focused on getting theirs that they don’t care what they do to the team in the process.
You never see it in baseball, and I can’t remember seeing it in basketball or hockey.
You signed the deal, you made the decision. If you have a problem with the contract, don’t blame the GM or the coach or the media.
Point the blame at yourself.