A Quick Thought On Guaranteed Contracts
Bryant Gumbel, a putz among putzes, has caused a bit of a stir recently with comments regarding guaranteed contracts in the NFL. Comments such as:
“Before he cleans out his office, have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw’s leash. By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch.”
Is the lack of guaranteed contracts in the NFL a travesty? Well, when you consider that athletes in the other major sports leagues have guaranteed contracts, then, yeah, probably. I think you'd be a fool to say that the job Upshaw has done representing the players of the NFL shouldn't be subject to some serious examination. He has some explaining to do.
That said, I'm all for the the NFL's current situation. Maybe that's just the fan in me coming out. Or maybe it's the Average Joe of the working class coming out. Or maybe it's simply me disagreeing with Gumbel because he pees sitting down. I don't know.
The thing is, I love how these NFL guys get to play a game they love for a few years of their lives and make millions of dollars doing it - which is a privilege - and then expect to get paid even when a team no longer wants/needs them. Granted, there should obviously be some sort of leeway with regards to injury, but other than that, if you can play and perform, and some team wants you to play and perform for them, then you get paid. If your services aren't needed, you don't. If you can earn a roster spot, then you have a job and you get paid to do that job. It's a business. Employers. Employees. Yeah, it might suck, but "it" also sucks for the rest of the world's schmucks who get paid when they work and don't get paid when they don't. If a vet is replaced by a younger, cheaper player, well, yeah, it sucks for the vet. But why should he have the right to complain and expect to still get paid? His contract stipulated how much he gets paid in a given year provided his services are utilized. He had a spot in the work force, now he doesn't. Somebody else does. At one point, possibly, he was the young guy taking the spot of a vet. This is the way of the world, right? Or are athletes different?
Granted, it's hard for NFL players not to have a gripe when they see athletes in far less grueling sports get guaranteed contracts.
And granted, it makes me feel slimy to side with the owners in any way.
But I like the you-play-you-get-paid ethos of the NFL. It keeps the entire process on edge. NFL players are lucky to have a job playing a sport, but in the end, it's a job. You either have a job, or you don't. That's the way it works for teachers and doctors and plumbers and electricians and truck drivers and...
...the whole damn world.
Athletes aren't special, despite what they might think. They don't desere to get paid when they no longer have a job any more than a random sixth-grade teacher whose contract isn't renewed for the upcoming school year.
Nothing is as infuriating as seeing an NBA guy like Tim Thomas sit out nearly an entire season because he has "differences with Scott Skiles about practice habits" and yet he still gets his $14 million for the year because it's "guaranteed." Ridiculous.
NFL players do get guaranteed money with their signing bonus, and for many, it's enough to last a lifetime. So if a player and his agent have to fight for guaranteed signing bonus money, well, hey, whatever. After that, it's dog eat dog...just as it is with the rest of the world. Deal with it.
Anyway, Gumbel sucks. What was the NFL thinking when hiring him in the first place? They couldn't think of one - just one - person better for the job? Sheesh.
Lastly, I suppose Gumbel's comment about a "leash" was a hidden or not-so-hidden allusion to racism. Which would be typical of a pompous clown like Gumbel. When in doubt, play the race card. So, so typical. Because, you know, it's ridiculous that the contracts of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre are guaranteed because they're white, while only black players are playing with contracts that aren't.