Press Box: playing for the money, money, money

Illustration by Ellie Kim
Illustration by Ellie Kim.

Over the last couple years, I have started to pick up on the pattern of athletes playing for the team that pays them the most money. It’s no longer about being on the team your parents watched for years, or playing for the team that represents your hometown. At the end of the day, it’s about which team can give you the bigger paycheck.

While NFL agents are making bank because their athlete went with the bigger payload, retailers are also benefiting from these decisions. More jerseys are sold for an individual athlete if they switch teams because fans remain loyal to that player. Their first jerseys will become vintage memorabilia as you follow the trail of the player’s career.

But whatever happened to staying loyal to the team? To staying a loyal player who played for the team that wanted you in the first place? Who saw your greatness from the beginning? And then you leave them in the dust when the check book starts waving in the distance, waiting for you to sign your name below the zeros and commas.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the NFL draft with the 19th overall pick in 2009. Maclin signed a five-year, $15.5 million deal with $9.5 million already guaranteed. In 2014, it was announced Maclin would sign a one-year deal worth $6 million to keep him on the Eagles roster throughout the 2014 season. The money wasn’t enough though since Maclin signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015. Eventually an injury caused the Chiefs to release Maclin in 2016. He then signed with the Baltimore Ravens for a two-year, $11 million contract in 2017.

Running back LeGarrette left the 2017 Super Bowl champion New England Patriots for the Eagles after signing one-year, $1.25 million contract with $400,000 guaranteed. With incentives, Blount could have earned up to $2.8 million in 2017.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went from a three-year, $7.4 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in 2009, to one-year fully guaranteed $12 million contract with the New York Jets in 2016. After his contract was voided in 2017, Fitzpatrick signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year, $3 million contract.

These are only three examples out of countless deals where players have picked money over the team. Granted, there are a million different variables that can go into account when signing with a team, but you can’t deny that how much you get offered is a big incentive to sign on the dotted line.

This trend happens in every sport though — it is just in human nature to want to get the most out of where you end up. I guess my question is will there ever be enough?

Players can get drafted and sign on to a team and get paid millions. Years later, they get an offer from another team and then start this hopping around process of going through each team until they end up on the one that pays less because the team that paid more released them in a weeks notice.

How can the fans at home compete with that? How can the fans stay loyal to the player when all the player is concerned with is money? Eventually the players who build a solid fan base leave that team in the dust and the fans are left to see the broken pieces of the team play out and wonder why have times changed so much.

Of course the paycheck was always a bonus but there was more heart into why you got that paycheck.

Now you can look at a roster from last season to the next and see who replaced who and who left for where and you can see the holes and gaps left behind. Times have changed, and so has the game.

Jessica Wetzler,Staff writer


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