Prescott’s injury shows how fragile NFL life is
The players are worth everything they make
This is why you side with the players during a labor dispute in any sport.
The big news from Week 5 was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott going down in a heap with a compound fracture and a dislocation of his right ankle. We all saw the video. We all cringed.
Bigger picture: Prescott went from a guy with a multi-million-dollar future to an uncertain one in about a second on Sunday. He was playing on a one-year deal with the Cowboys under the franchise tag and now who knows?
Of course, he’s going to have the best health care and rehab anyone — aka the Dallas Cowboys — can afford, but think about it. The NFL owners automatically make money, even in a pandemic-plagued season.
The salary cap is always $1 million below every team’s share of national television money. Even in a year when a lot of teams are not selling tickets and beer to those fans not in the stands, NFL franchises are making money. What’s more, in this case, the Dallas Cowboys still keep all the money from their merchandise deal with Nike, including every penny from No. 4 Prescott jerseys. (The other 31 teams share their merch money.)
While NFL owners are guaranteed a profit regardless of what happens on the field (win or loss, global pandemic or not), the players are the ones taking the risk.
Even if Prescott had a long-term deal with Dallas, all of the money wouldn’t be guaranteed. Take Patrick Mahomes’ mega-$502 million contract signed earlier this year. It is a mind-numbing amount of money, yet only $140 of this 10-year contract is actually guaranteed.
It is designed to pay him only $5 million this season, yes, which is a paltry sum given how much he sells merchandise — his No. 15 is the top-selling jersey in the league — and how much he has increased the value of the Chiefs’ franchise. (Hello, he just won a Super Bowl.)
What’s more, by 2023 when he starts earning the big money amounts — $40-50 million per year — his contract is only guaranteed on a year-to-year basis. If he falls off a cliff in performance or gets hurt, the Chiefs can cut him and they don’t have to eat the salary.
It’s easy to say athletes are overpaid, but they have a short timespan to earn money for their entire lives and do so, particularly in football, in a tenuous profession where one step could mean the end.
Be honest, you have never bought a ticket or turned on the TV to watch an owner — though watching the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones cringe after a loss is fun. You pay — be it through ticket sales, merchandise, programming fees and/or your time — to watch the players.
They’re the ones putting themselves on the line, not the owners in the luxury boxes, and they deserve to get their share.
Remember that — and players like Prescott — when the owners cry falsely that they are losing money come negotiation time, be it collective bargaining or with individual contracts.
Broncos on hiatus
It’s going so badly for the Denver Broncos that they lost their bye week without getting to go somewhere nice. With the Patriots having multiple COVID-19 positives, they were unable to play Denver in Week 5, that game is moved to this week, and this week’s scheduled game against the Dolphins will be played in Week 11. Somewhere in there, Denver’s Week 8 bye turned into a game against the Chargers.
This is yet another thing for which everyone can blame the Patriots … whoo-hoo.
Abolishing bye weeks was pretty much part of the NFL’s unspoken plan for dealing with COVID-19 — but remember how much the league cares about player safety — and don’t be surprised if the regular season gets pushed back into January.
The. NFL. IS. Going. To. Get. The. Season. Completed. (Again, player safety is really a priority.)
We may have the Super Bowl in March. (But player safety is key.)
News and notes
• So Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks were trailing Minnesota 13-0 at halftime last weekend. Did anyone in the world think the Seahawks were not coming back? These are the Vikings, the NFL’s perpetual foil. This is Russell Wilson — he rallies his team in his sleep. Just please don’t wear those yellow-green uniforms again, Seattle. We thank you on behalf of a grateful nation.
• How about no automatic playoff spot for the NFC East? That’s fair, right? Good. Settled.
• Goodness gracious, did we see Joe Flacco starting for the Jets? We submit that without comment.
• Games to watch in Week 6: Browns at Steelers … It’s reality time for Cleveland … Packers at Buccaneers … Yep, Rodgers vs. Brady … Chiefs at Bills … Wish this game were in snowy December.
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