We hoped for the best, but it looks like the worst is inevitable.
When NFL owners read the opposing defense, they see an obvious soft spot in the line: the free-spending, high-living ways of more than 20 percent of the league’s players.
Though a lockout has been threatened for years — and despite an apparent rise in the number of football stars safeguarding their millions — roughly 380 of the NFL’s near 1,700 players still live paycheck to paycheck, according to financial experts familiar with the league.
“Therein lies the leverage these owners have to potentially use as an excuse to force the Players Association … to sneeze first,” said Reggie Wilkes, a 10-year NFL linebacker and now a financial adviser who preaches “lifestyle management” to more than 20 NFL clients. “If (union chief) DeMaurice Smith doesn’t have guys saving their money, it’s going to be difficult for them to withstand a potential lockout.”
Many players are “going to be hurting,” agreed New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott, 30, a Wilkes client. Scott, who stands to earn, or lose, $6 million next season, is frugal by NFL standards, driving his 2002 Lincoln Navigator “into the ground” and purchasing a $700,000 home — relatively modest by football star standards. Scott said some “young guys” in his locker room “see what the older guys have, and they’re not there yet. They’re trying to catch up and keep up with the Joneses” by buying $2 million mansions.
There is a wide variation in NFL players’ salaries. The average player salary for the 2009-10 season using USA Today’s numbers is $1,870,998. But the number isn’t particularly meaningful since superstars can earn far more and second- or third-stringers far less. The league rookie minimum salary is $320,000.
Barring a late agreement between the union and owners, players could be locked out of NFL facilities as soon as Friday.
Millionaire vs. Billionaires, and we all know big bank take lil’ bank. Hopefully they can find some common ground because no football in the winter just ain’t right.