The big story for the Dallas Cowboys so far this preseason doesn’t have anything to do with what’s happening on the practice field, unless you count the fact that Ezekiel Elliott isn’t on it. Now comes the news Dak Prescott wants a new contract, and suddenly the Cowboys’ playoff hopes are taking a back seat in the discussion to financial issues.
Dallas has been lucky, with both players and Amari Cooper all working under very reasonable rookie contracts. That’s one of the problems with drafting well, which is a new concept to deal with for Cowboys fans. Remember the good old days when the team would draft players like David LaFleur, and no one had to worry about giving him a second contract? Ah, good times.
Whenever the details come out about an athlete’s contract requests, invariably people on social media will compare that salary to what we pay teachers, soldiers and other very necessary professions and paint the players as selfish.
To start with, some jobs are almost criminally underpaid and undersupported, and if you agree, I encourage you to use your voice to support them. Contact your congressmen and school boards and let them know how you feel, but also understand that one thing has absolutely nothing to do with the others.
Are these holdouts and demands part of the “culture of me” that exists in society these days? Absolutely. Is being angry at someone for wanting to be paid fair market value for their services unfair? That’s completely correct, too.
Bear in mind when you see a story about how much an athlete is asking for, the only source of that story is the team’s ownership. It’s a common ploy to make the players seem greedy. Jerry Jones and his family will make billions off of the Dallas Cowboys for the rest of existence, while your average running back has a lifespan somewhere around an avocado.
Dak played in the Pro Bowl last year, so generally speaking, that makes him one of the top 11 quarterbacks currently on the planet. He currently makes about 6% of what Kirk Cousins does. Meanwhile in a perfect world, Jerry Jones would still be giving fans refunds for the Dave Campo years.
The NFL has a salary cap, which means every team has a budget. Some teams find ways around it to spend more, while teams like the Cincinnati Bengals don’t even bother to try and spend their money, preferring to keep it all in some Scrooge McDuck-like vault for their ownership to dive into during the bye week.
Because of that budget, Dak and Zeke holding out for more money will not directly make the cost of Cowboys season tickets rise. Dak Prescott could sign a contract tomorrow to play for $8 an hour with a $10 bonus for every win, and that leftover money wouldn’t go to pay Metroplex teachers any more money.
There seem to be three things fans say when a player wants more money.
1. “This guy’s not worth that money!” Well, if we were starting a bakery, we definitely wouldn’t want to hire Dak to be our lead baker for $30 million a year. But in terms of what an NFL quarterback gets, that’s pretty much right in line with the market.
2. “No one deserves that much for playing a game!” Intramural soccer is a game. The NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the only way into it is through dedication and sacrifice. These players have been training since they were in the womb for this opportunity, and it won’t last long. Zeke’s “Feed Me” mantra won’t seem quite as inspiring when he’s out of the league in four years from the physical pounding his body took for his chosen profession.
3. “They should just honor their contracts!” NFL contracts protect the teams, never the players. Remember when the Cowboys cut Dez Bryant so they wouldn’t have to pay him $25 million, but first they held onto his rights until after free agency so no other team would have any cap space to sign him? When you have the chance to negotiate, you take that opportunity.
The bottom line on the NFL and money is this, 10 years from now, Dak, Zeke, and Amari Cooper probably will all be gone from the NFL. In that time frame, there won’t be a single NFL owner or franchise that goes broke from having to pay a player.
By the way, Entertainment Weekly reported this week that the cast of “Friends” still makes $20 million a year from reruns, and probably another $12 bucks from “Joey.” And none of them ever got a concussion from their job.
Well, maybe just Matt LeBlanc.
Reid Kerr thinks deep-snappers are criminally underpaid, mostly because he was good at that in high school. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.