Giants receiver and Madden cover boy Odell Beckham Jr. was asked by the Huffington Post what one thing he would change about the NFL. He took a second to think, then answered, “I think that we should make more money, personally.”
“It’s not even a full-contact sport, I would call it a full-collision sport. You have people running who can run 20 miles per hour and they’re running downhill to hit you, and you’re running 18 miles per hour. That’s a car wreck.
“It’s just the careers are shorter. There’s injuries that you have after you leave the game, brain injuries, whatever it is, nerve injuries. And it’s just something that I feel as if there’s no way someone who — even if they did their three or four years in the league — should have to worry about money for the rest of their lives.”
It’s easy to be sympathetic here, even to Beckham, who as the 12th overall pick last year, is making $10.4 million over the first four years of his career. Because football being football, it’s far from guaranteed that he’ll have any career beyond his first contract. Ten million dollars is more than the vast majority of us will earn in our lifetimes, but that’s an atypical number for NFL players, the sport is insanely profitable, and the majority of pros find themselves out of work in their mid-20s and are ill-prepared to do anything else.
Of course, it’s utopian to hope that labor could consistently out-earn management in any industry, let alone one with an antitrust exemption. Being sympathetic to NFL players doesn’t preclude understanding why they aren’t paid more. With 53-man rosters, any individual player’s cut of the NFL revenue pie is necessarily sliced thinner than in other sports. And specifically because of injuries and the short life span of the average football player, it’s in owners’ interests to limit the amount of guaranteed money handed out.
Beckham will probably be fine. He deserves it, if only because he was responsible for the only good thing that happened in the NFL all year.