Le’Veon Bell, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack are just the latest NFL players to spend the offseason engaged in tense contract negotiations with their respective teams for a new deal that pays them what they feel they’re worth. Bell reportedly turned down a reported 5 year-70 million-dollar contract ($33 million guaranteed) from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 26-year old All-Pro running back has said he wants to reset the market for the position, which has been devalued over the past decade. Meanwhile, L.A. Rams running back Todd Gurley may have beat him to the punch. The 24-year old signed an NFL record contract for a running back worth $60 million dollars ($45 guaranteed) over the course of four years.
Bell, however, will play his second consecutive season under the franchise tag. The tag will pay him $14.5 million for this season, which will likely be his last in Pittsburgh, according to his agent. Fans in Steelers Nation have already turned on him, calling him selfish and greedy, among spewing other ignorant and insensitive comments.
Regardless of Bell’s motivation, and desire for a contract that he feels is fair compensation of his value, I’m confused why so many fans are on the side of Billionaires, instead of Millionaire players, who have a shorter window than their employers to make their living.
Fans need to understand, the owners of their favorite teams, own multiple businesses, many of which their family, friends or themselves work for. These same negotiation tactics they use to low-ball your favorite player, are the same business principles in practice at their other companies to keep the average American’s salaries low.
For example, Stan Kroenke, the owner of the L.A. Rams — as well as the Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL) the Colorado Rapids (MLS) and is also the largest shareholder of club Arsenal of the Premier League — is the husband of the daughter of Walmart co-founder James Walton. Another example would be Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, who owns Home Depot.
So, think about someone who works at one of Kroenke’s Walmart stores or Blank’s Home Depot as a Store Manager. Let’s say this Store Manager earns $50,000 a year. To most in America that’s a great salary. However, the median annual salary for this position is $56, 175 per year. But, the salary ranges between $49,129 to $67,142 across the U.S. If the Wal-Mart or Home Depot store manager went and asked for a raise from $50k to $67k, they probably wouldn’t get it all. They’d be lucky to get a $5,000 raise. Still good, but not their true market value. That’s the key word: Market Value.
See, the rich don’t get rich by spending every dime. They get rich by having great cost management skills, and that involves finding employees that don’t cost much. By much, I mean close to the minimum. An employee’s only chance at getting what they want, may be to leverage going and working for one of Wal-Mart or Home Depot’s competitors, Target and Lowes. That’s just like Professional Athletes who have to consider playing for other teams around the league who will pay them exactly or close to what they’re asking for.
Don’t let the dollar amount that professional athletes earn compared to you; blind you from the fact that this is how the rich take advantage of labor. Fans, you are labor! Just like pro athletes. Regardless of how many more commas your favorite athlete has in his or her bank account than you, you have more in common with them than the owner of your favorite team.
The same practices they use to keep the players from getting what they deserve, are the same they use against you. And if you don’t play along, they will get rid of you and find someone else who is willing to take less than you would have. NEVER forget that! Fans who disagree should go read William Rhoden’s book “Forty Million Dollar Slaves”, I’m sure they’ll gain a different perspective.