Some high paid athletes need to appreciate their money

My mother was a widow and raised us 5 kids mostly by herself. I never thought of myself as a poor kid because we had a roof over our heads and had food to eat. I had two pair of jeans that I wore on alternate days and never thought anything else about it. We knew there were families that had much less when it came to food and housing.

But what makes this country so great is that, if you work hard enough, and you’re fortunate, dreams can become givens. Expectations, even.

One day you’re a bright young guy who’d never played a down of college football, beginning life anew as a head coach in West Texas.

Nine years later, you’re complaining that Texas Tech is trying to “extort” your $12.7 million dollar deal down to dang near nothing.

Now that’s an analogy Mike Leach probably shouldn’t make at a time when thousands are losing their jobs and the economy is in freefall.

Usually, it’s when confronted with catastrophe – 9/11, illness, death, a crippling recession – that most of us remember where we came from.

Of course, the bigger the take, the worse the memory.

Just the other day, someone asked UConn coach Jim Calhoun at a news conference if, in dire circumstances, with state employees getting laid off, he’d like to return some of his $1.6 million salary, the biggest in all of Connecticut. Calhoun snapped that his basketball team brings in $12 million, a pretty good point at that. But he didn’t help himself any when he stressed that he wasn’t giving a dime back.

Frankly, I don’t blame Calhoun for holding on to what he has. People have been laid off  and more layoffs are coming. If I’m still at my job then, I’m not offering refunds, either.

But maybe there should be a code of conduct to help the privileged few as they negotiate these trying times.

You know, something to keep them from squeezing dimes in front of the masses.

The NFL got in the spirit of it. League officials announced Wednesday that they’ve cut 169 jobs. Not only that, Roger Goodell took a 20 percent to 25 percent pay cut last year from what was supposed to be an $11 million haul.

Bud Selig apparently is a little embarrassed about all the hubbub over his world-class, commissioner-leading $18.35 million package, as reported by SportsBusiness Journal, and here’s what he’s doing about it:

The filing status for his office has been changed from non-profit to a limited liability corporation, meaning no more of these nasty public disclosures.

Don’t get me wrong. A wise man once said you’re worth whatever someone will pay you, so exorbitant sports salaries have never offended me. They’re entertainers. Oprah makes $275 million a year. A-Rod couldn’t carry her pocketbook if his cousin shot him full of buffalo hormones.

But lately the callous indifference of some sports celebrities has been getting to me, which makes Randy Wolf’s story so endearing.

In November, after making the veteran pitcher an offer of three years, $28.5 million, the Astros reneged, citing the bad economy.

Wolf eventually settled on a one-year deal, same as a host of other free agents in a bad market. The Dodgers gave Wolf a $5 million base and $3 million in incentives, and he took it without complaint. What’s more, he seemed content. 

“I play major league baseball,” he told The New York Times.“It may not be what the contract was that the Astros offered, but I make a very good living and I get to do what I love to do. With people losing their jobs, and they’re making $40,000 and they’re working their tails off 12 months a year to make ends meet, and they’re getting laid off, it’s not right for me to complain about a contract.”

Randy Wolf may never win 20 games, but he has at least one new fan. If there’s any justice, maybe a bunch.

For me, in times like these, I’m grateful for everything I have. 3 great kids that are grown, my health, and an old truck that is almost paid for. Thanks to the good folks at Deadspin and all of my friends and relatives for your encouragement and well wishes as I recover from my surgery.


1 Comment

Filed under health, Sports

One response to “Some high paid athletes need to appreciate their money

  1. Make that 2 new fans.

    Hearing that come from a professional athlete gives me hope that there is still some good left in this world. Thanks for that.


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