How did we get here? The infatuation of the media and fan base with NFL player contract structure and negotiation? Seems every season during the free agency period there’s an intense debate about how much NFL players are paid and whether they’re worth it. The latest deliberation revolves around the extension of Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo and so called the $108 million commitment made by “America’s Team”.
Perception isn’t necessarily reality
The astute follower knows that the Jerry Jones isn’t actually on the hook for all $108 million unless Romo plays out the entirety of the agreement, and that’s not too likely given the various dynamic factors that play upon an NFL contract. But the media reports the total worth of the deal, the average compensation per season, the CAP charge affiliated with each year, and the fans erupt in outrage at the waste being spent on a less than deserving player.
Front and center
It’s my personal observation that this “white hot” spotlight is unique to professional football and not so much on other pro sports. We read about Major League Baseball contracts, the enormity of the numbers and guarantees. We see reports of NBA superstars making millions upon millions, and the skyrocketing “purses” of NASCAR winners. But judgment and criticism runs across the board (players, agents, general managers, coaches, and owners) in the National Football League regarding matters of contractual obligations.
Is this focus on compensation warranted to the degree it’s covered in professional football? Perhaps, but emphasis should be diverted to the following three points;
- Fans and media should be concentrating on whether their club is spending CASH to CAP. CAP dollars are more like “Monopoly Money” in that they act only as an accounting method for the actual spending of “green backs”. Don’t believe me? Open up your wallet or purse and tell me how many “CAP dollars” are inside. Not many I’d guess. CASH is king, even in the NFL. And though economic equality isn’t necessarily the rule of thumb across the League, teams by in large take from the community chest that which is equal to the yearly CAP total. You should expect your ownership to build on par.
- Sir Isaac Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion (To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction) holds true regarding some aspects of NFL player contracts. I like to call it the “Ripple Effect” in that decisions and deals agreed upon today will have consequences tomorrow. Reckless negotiations made by “win now” emotions of owners, general managers, or head coaches can cripple your organization’s ability to field a competitive team in the future. There’s a responsibility to field the most talent you can for the short term, all the while understanding the ramifications for seasons to come.
- Reputation does precede you. The way your club goes about its business will ultimately determine whether or not a player and his agent want to consider an opportunity. The Football Educator recently posted about the need for “taking the high road” by the club in EVERY situation. Players come and go, agents come and go. It’s been a while since an NFL franchise folded. Players want to be associated and play for WINNERS. Winners most commonly do things the right way, treating people the right way – along the way
Measure it correctly
Measure your team’s work in this “game inside the game” by these 3 factors, not necessarily by the numbers you see reported and the interpretation of their meaning from those that don’t really understand themselves. Support your players by how they produce on the field and carry themselves off, not by the size of their checkbooks. It’s what WINNERS do.