Protesting players still make millions even if the NFL folds

Here’s an unfortunate fact of life: no matter what we do to withhold fan participation in the NFL including not watching any games, attending any games, or buying any NFL-licensed gear, we will have little impact on the active players who are the ones doing the protesting.

We can boycott each and every sponsor of the NFL games totally and it still won’t affect the current players until it’s time for new contract terms.

Right now, we are primarily affecting the team owners.

Now, don’t misunderstand, I have no problems with seeing the owners take a hit to their bottom line, they deserve it for not taking a stand on the actions of their players (employees). They could (and should) have taken charge immediately when Colin Kaepernick first disparaged the anthem, the flag, and the country with his ill-advised kneeling protest. But they didn’t do anything directly, nor did they demand that Roger Goodell do something, like issue a statement condemning the protests. By doing nothing, both the owners and the league office implied a tacit approval of the actions simply via their inaction.

Speaking for myself, I’d much prefer to be affecting the income of the players directly, but that’s not going to happen. The players who actually displayed some form of protest are the ones who’ve caused a rebellion of the fan base.

These guys get paid so much that even if they were shut off completely today, they’d still have millions stashed away (at least some would).

We’ve all heard about these humongous contracts the top stars get and the dollars don’t even sound real. Take Colin Kaepernick, for example. After winning the Super Bowl, he was (supposedly) rewarded with a 7-year, $126 million dollar contract in 2014.

A player gets his signing bonus (in millions) at the time the contract is signed. He gets his annual salary spread over the 16 game season and other bonuses (roster bonus, etc.) paid at the end of the season.

So someone like Colin Kaepernick got a $12.3 million signing bonus when he initially signed and a 2014 salary of $645,000. He received a mere $10.4 million salary in 2015. He restructured his contract in 2016 and by the time he opted out in March, had only received a total of only $39.4 million over three years. Only a fraction of that reported $126 million, but an amount that most folks could live on. Even so, you probably won’t see him in the unemployment office.

The NFL’s contracts are complicated and have all sorts of clauses that provide both safety nets and escape paths and each one is negotiated individually by the team and the player’s agent. They’re far too complex to explain here, but we can present a few facts that are etched in stone.

The 4-year minimum base salaries for players in this year’s (2017) draft are as follows: $465,000 (Year 1), $540,000 (Year 2), $615,000 (Year 3), $690,000 (Year 4).

Rookies drafted in the first round signed contracts worth a minimum of $8.9 million (32nd player taken) up to a maximum of $30.4 million for the first player taken. And signing bonuses ranged from a meager $4.6 million up to the top player chosen who got a $20.2 million signing bonus.

Even the bottom of the draft (7th round, last player taken) will pay a bottom rung rookie $2.4 million for a 4-year contract with a $64,000 signing bonus.

So, we can see that the players won’t be hurt by our boycott, at least not those currently playing. When new players are signed for upcoming seasons and when veterans are due for new contracts, that’s when our impact will be felt by the players.

In the meantime, here are a few facts about the income that finds its way into the owner’s coffers.

Until the previous contract ended in 2013, the over-the-air television networks CBS ($3.73B), NBC ($3.6B), and Fox ($4.27B) as well as cable’s ESPN ($8.8B) – paid a combined total of $20.4 billion to broadcast NFL games. A new contract, running from 2014 to 2022, will have the networks paying $39.6 billion for the same broadcast rights. And yes, those are B’s for BILLIONS.

With viewership down a reported 20%, you can imagine that the networks carrying the games are scared s**tless that their advertising revenue will drop significantly and when that happens, they’ll want to renegotiate their broadcast rights, which will impact the owners again. I don’t pretend to know what recourse they’ll have if owners refuse, but with armies of high-priced attorneys involved you know that there will be litigation galore. It’s a sad story when money lost by players or owners is vacuumed up by lawyers.

Fan attendance to all NFL games in 2016 was 17,788,674 and the average ticket price (they vary from team to team) was $110.20. That’s for the cheap seats; a premium seat averages $346.96. That yields about $1,960,311,874.48, or almost two billion dollars at the cheap seat prices. The actual amount is undoubtedly significantly higher.

I haven’t seen any metrics on attendance numbers yet and that’ll be hard to gauge anyway since most tickets are already paid for – a better metric will be ticket sales for next year’s season. If nothing changes, I’d expect to see a major drop-off in pre-season ticket sales.

It’s pretty apparent that the NFL is truly BIG business and fans are busy rocking the boat.

All of this major upheaval is due to a few ignorant, selfish, agitators who have decided that their racist perception of life in America is more important than the truth and more important than the livelihood of thousands of innocent people who will be affected by their actions.


Categories: General


7 replies

  1. Darn. I’d love to see the present players suffer…
    But I am happy the business itself is suffering. It should effect these players down the road?

    BTW, did you read that the CEO of Papa John’s Pizza is blaming the NFL for their huge losses???

    It’s really a shame that other businesses will be suffering. But, the NFL? I don’t care.


  2. I’m curious how the pay structure works. Do the players all get paid out of one big central NFL kitty or do they get paid by their individual team owners?

    Not that it matters in the long run I guess, because if we’re already diminishing the owners’ incomes, it will eventually affect the players pay. Like I said before, maybe they can operate at 50% income for a while, but not forever.

    The fans landed another punch – I just read that ESPN lost 480,000 subscribers in October. “They get more than $9 per month from each cable subscriber who has ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the SEC Network in their lineups — with the $3.3 billion the network must pay each year for its NFL and NBA packages alone, it paints a troubling economic picture for ESPN and parent company Disney.”


    • I guess I’m a bit surprised that the fans have stuck to their guns as they have. I think we’re seeing a bit of a snowball effect in people getting on the “Screw the NFL” bandwagon and it’s picking up steam. That bodes very badly for the owners. They’d better get their act together damn soon or it will be goodbye to the National Football League as we’ve known it.


  3. Those are some eye-opening numbers, Garnet.

    Perhaps some good will come out of Colin Kapaernick’s misguided protest as the NFL is exposed for how obscenely lucrative it is, too often at taxpayers’ expense.

    This fight has become a sort of proxy battle between Left and Right, and I’m afraid that, like with so many other things, the focus on that power struggle is overshadowing the heart of the issue. Colin Kapaernick was wrong. Not just because he wouldn’t kneel regardless of how he felt, but because saw only the bad that he wanted to see and ignored all the good, and because he then used those isolated incidents of bad to unfairly indict an entire nation. His followers are even worse, because their indignation isn’t even firsthand indignation. They’re just acting like sheep with indignation.

    We could possibly win this power struggle and force players to kneel by squeezing the purse strings, but it would be a far better thing if we won the debate over whether we’re a racist nation, and the kneelers chose to stand because they want to express sincere respect for their country.


    • I agree with that desire, CW, but the chances of a transformation of the soul for many of those racist activists is damn near impossible. At this point, I’m tired of trying to entice them with goodness, they repel it every time, I think that they need a 2×4 upside the head to get their attention first.


  4. It is truly mind blowing what all sports pay these players. The public suffer the costs of all this
    And we can go on and on Hollywood, CEO’s etc


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