“Show Me The Money!”


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XXX during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 30, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.

Think back to your athletic careers. Maybe you are in the midst of your career right now, or maybe the last time you played any sport was back in middle school. Why did you play the game? For anybody who played a sport past the years of their parents forcing him or her to do so, the majority of people played for two reasons: for the love of the game, and for the thrill of winning. Now, a week into the NFL free agency period, I want to pose another question: at what point do people stop playing for these aforementioned reasons?

If you are unaware of how the free agency period has gone so far I will fill you in. Some of the biggest stars in the league have found new homes including former Steelers running back Le’veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Giants’s safety Landon Collins and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Seahawks’s safety Earl Thomas, Ravens’s safety Eric Weddle and linebacker CJ Mosley. These are huge names in the NFL! I am only 18 years old, but this is the craziest offseason for the NFL that I can remember, and quite honestly I find it very frustrating.

I understand that the NFL is a business and that there are many reasons why a player might end up switching teams. However, it seems that more often than not, the switches are made because of money. It is no longer about winning or for love of the game. Again, I get it. These guys have short careers and it is a very dangerous sport, so they need to capitalize while they are in their prime. But, how come guys decline the opportunity to play for a championship, or to play for the team that drafted them, instead exchanging these experiences for a few extra million dollars. Not all players make the big bucks that I am talking about. In fact, according to Kerri Anne Renzulli, the average NFL salary in 2017 was $2.7 million (CNBC). While that is not insane, that is a whole lot of money to earn in one year for playing a sport. Nevertheless, I am talking more about the stars of free agency that are making more than $8 million a year. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Look at Le’veon Bell. Bell sat out the entire 2018-2019 season because he wanted a long term deal with more money. He was not satisfied with the $14.54 million franchise tag that the Steelers offered. So, he lost it all. He missed out on a potential Super Bowl. He missed out on playing the sport he is supposed to love. And he passed by $14.5 million in one year. And what did he get out of it? He has now signed a contract with $25 million guaranteed in a four-year deal with the NFL’s third-worst team. No chance at the Super Bowl this year. He left all his fans in Pittsburg behind. He gave up winning. He was 100% in it for the money because he couldn’t handle living off of “only” $14.5 million (USA Sports). This is absurd. I don’t even care what his reasoning is. However, Bell is not alone. All the previously mentioned names are players who left their franchises for more money (with the exception of Odell who was traded not on his terms).

I don’t have many good things to say about the Vikings, especially Anthony Barr. He broke Aaron Rodgers’s collarbone, along with the hopes and dreams of a Super Bowl for myself and my fellow cheeseheads. The amount of respect he has from me is rock bottom (but that is for another article); however, he did make a move that I deeply respect. The Jets offered Anthony Barr a better contract than the Vikings did, so he took it. That night he couldn’t sleep, and he said it was the worst day of his life. He explained that it didn’t feel right. The next day he took back his verbal agreement and worked out a deal with the Vikings. He did it because he wanted to compete for a Super Bowl and do it in the place he now called home. He was loyal and showed football fans everywhere that, for him, it is not all about the money.

I can guarantee you that Barr and Bell live very similar lifestyles despite the difference in salary. If Le’veon Bell and other athletes like him can’t live on multi-million dollar contracts, they have a major problem. The NFL needs more players like Barr who show loyalty and a desire to win. When did sports become all about the money? I’m sick of it and this free agency has put me over the top.