.. and then?
Join Date: Apr 2004
A different take on holdouts
Found via a KFFL
thread ("barrister" found it on Pro Football talk), but wow.. what a good article.
BACKLASH BUILDING AGAINST HOLDOUTS
by: Mike Florio
As more and more NFL players -- seemingly, more than ever -- complain that they have "outperformed" their contracts and are willing to resort to breaching their agreements in an effort to finagle more money, there's a rising tide of resentment against these guys, both among the fan base and in front offices.
As one league source told us Wednesday evening, the players who are poor-mouthing their current pay conveniently omit reference to one key fact.
The signing bonus.
"As in the case of [Packers defensive tackle] Grady Jackson," the source said, "that fat SOB was given a signing bonus."
Media reports regarding Jackson's looming holdout make reference to the fact that he'll earn $665,000 in 2005. But the total package was for two years and $2.31 million, with a signing bonus.
And a signing bonus isn't free money. It's advance compensation that, for salary cap purposes, is divided evenly over the various years of the contract.
The payment of the bonus contemplates the guy's performance in the future years of the deal. If the player retires or is suspended or blows out a knee while making like Evel Knievel, a portion of the bonus money is subject to recovery.
"The agreement made at the time a deal is consummated is that the signing bonus is part of the salary. It is understood by everyone at the time of the signing . . . [and] none of them *****es when that is done.
"I want to meet the player that says he will take less signing bonus so he can have a higher . . . base salary at the back end of the contract."
The problem, as we see it, is that because base salaries generally aren't guaranteed, players and their agents want to get as much money as possible up front. Indeed, the signing bonus is the only sure thing in a system where players can be released by their teams if they "underperform."
But what players aren't realizing is that, in those situations, they really do end up with "free money" because they keep the full signing bonus without being required to fulfill the full term of the contract. Still, the risk of termination for underachievement has become the primary excuse offered up by players and agents who want to rip up the deal and get paid all over again when the player "overperforms".
But in any contract in any setting, both sides assume the risk that the arrangement will be viewed as a "bad deal" in hindsight. Indeed, for every Javon Walker who thinks he's bringing more to the table than he's taking away from it, there's a Joe Johnson who pocketed millions and did relatively nothing.
It's just the way the system works, and plenty of people are getting fed up with the players and agents who refuse to play by the rules.
Another thing that's hurting players like Walker is the prose emanating from their pie holes in an effort to justify blatant violations of their contracts.
Said Walker recently: "Anybody can say, 'OK, he had a great year [in 2004], so let's see if he can do it again.' That's like trying to tell a person to go to war in Iraq, but let me see if you can go to war again and come back, and then we'll give you the Medal of Honor. You don't send a soldier out to a battlefield twice for him to [prove he is] consistent."
No, Javon, you don't send a soldier out to the battlefield twice to prove he is consistent. You send the soldier back out there because he has made a commitment that he intends to honor.
Honor. That's the key word. Soldiers honor their commitments, whatever the consequence. Considering that most of these guys carrying guns in Iraq and Afghanistan are getting peanuts in comparison to the risks they're taking, is it really too much to ask a kid who's making hundreds of thousands of dollars in a profession that doesn't entail the ever-present risk of a gruesome and violent demise to do the same?
Especially when, by virtue of his signing bonus, he's already been partially paid to do so?