What’s Wrong with This Picture? The REAL Business of Football

Nov 3, 2010

Golden football but no golden parachute...

Remember Troy Vincent? He was the one player inside the NFLPA who chose to question Gene Upshaw in his final year at the NFLPA. As President of the NFLPA for four years, he actually believed that he could bring up the idea of a succession plan for Gene Upshaw. And it cost him dearly. Although Vincent eventually ended up in the final run for the NFLPA Executive Director position after Upshaw’s untimely departure, his earlier tangles with many in the Upshaw regime left him at a severe disadvantage; DeMaurice Smith was subsequently appointed as the new chief of the NFLPA last year. But Troy was back on his feet once again after being appointed the new VP of Player Development for the NFL earlier this year.

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Recently, Troy and Adolpho Smith (NFL Labor Policy), spoke to the USC Trojans about making the most of their opportunities while they were in college. Aside from talking about a good college education and the usual drugs-and-alcohol warnings, Vincent and Smith also cited some serious realities of a career in football:

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Over the past 20 years, 15,018 players played in the NFL, but only 631 (4%) played three or more years.  The average career length is 3.7 seasons, but players do not receive benefits unless they put in four years, both stats according to the NFL.

(Click HERE to read the USC Trojans blog post about their visit.)

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Take bets that ol’ Troy has probably already been called into the Principal’s office for a good talk? Think he’ll ever be giving out a stat like that again in public?

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Here’s the actual page out of the NFL’s Too-Little-Too-Late Playbook (click on the thumbnail to enlarge for reading):

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POSTSCRIPT: An earlier post from SportsbyBrooks back in July called out Alabama coach Nick Saban when he had this to say about NFL agents: “How are they any better than a pimp? How would you feel if they did that to your child?” Brooks basically turned the tables back on Saban by asking, “If you call agents ‘pimps,’ then what are you?” Doesn’t waving athletic scholarships to young athletes as a recruitment tool basically translate into free slave labor while bringing in lots of money for the university? While a few of the exceptional players manage to make it all the way through college and graduate, let’s not kid ourselves here: The majority of these kids would neither be able to afford the tuition nor let alone have the academic skills to get into college. Read the rest of Brooks’ post – click HERE.

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Dave: “When I graduated from the University of Washington, there were only two of us from the UW Huskies football team who actually graduated in four years: Me. And the quarterback. That was it for our graduating class of 1975! Football scholarships are very similar to NFL contracts; they really only run from year-to-year. If you got permanently injured in college, your football scholarship would be up for “review.” In the NFL, if you’re permanently injured, you’re cut from the team. Period. You have no value to them any longer.”

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Those statistics that Troy Vincent cited are only what you see for the NFL players who manage to make it all the way through college and get into the League. The statistics on making it all the way through college before finally catching a professional team’s eye are even more staggering. As we’ve continued to point out, everyone – EVERYONE – makes money from the players at virtually each stage of this game: the colleges/owners, the coaches, the equipment suppliers, the concessionaires, the stadiums, the agents, the TV and cable networks, the bookies. Everyone except the players themselves – at least until you manage to play for the NFL. And then they still manage to stack the deck against you even AFTER you’ve given them everything you’ve got. It does smack of modern day slavery.

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2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Roman Gabriel
    November 4th, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Roman Gabriel
    Great piece! ALL retirees should read this!

    Thanks,
    Gabe18
    Roman Gabriel
    16-Year Vet, #18
    LA Rams, Philadelphia Eagles
    1962 – 1978

  2. Dan Lloyd
    November 5th, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Dan Lloyd
    As usual, you nailed the whole system! Everyone makes a buck off the backs of the players and if you point out the obvious, you’re done.

    Dan Lloyd
    UW Husky 1978 Graduate: Started in ’72!
    NY Giants 1976 – 1983