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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What they're playing for

Just in case you think NFL players are only there for the payday, consider what they actually get paid for the playoffs:

Wild-card games (division winners): $20,000.
Wild-card games (fifth- and sixth-seeded teams): $18,000.
Divisional games: $20,000.
Conference championship games: $37,500.
Super Bowl winners: $78,000.
Super Bowl losers: $40,000

That may seem like a lot of money, but when you consider the cut the government and their agents get, it's really not.

If the Steelers win the Super Bowl, the players will have pocketed an extra $135,500, of which they'll probably actually get between $60 to $70 thousand per player.

It's a nice chunk of change, but when you consider the risk involved – ask Willis McGahee – it's not all that great.

This is much more about winning a championship to these guys than anything.

Injury update:

Here's what Mike Tomlin has to say about injuries Tuesday:

"Hines Ward has a right knee sprain. We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure he gets the medical attention he needs. In his mind, he’s playing. So chances are, he is. It’s not going to be comfortable between now and game day in terms of making that happen. But it’s not about comfort, particularly for Hines. This guy, this morning, was down there aggressively getting after his rehabilitation and putting himself in position to help this football team. We’re definitely not going to count him out. We’re going to save a seat on the bus for 86."

Other injuries are:
Mewelde Moore right ankle sprain.
Darnell Stapleton ankle sprain.
Patrick Bailey hamstring strain.
Justin Hartwig knee
Max Starks knee sprain


adamg said...

Just to put these numbers in perspective, from the Census Bureau
Current Population Survey (2008),

"Among the race groups and Hispanics, black households had the lowest median income in 2007 ($33,916). This compares to the median of $54,920 for non-Hispanic white households. Asian households had the highest median income ($66,103). The median income for Hispanic households was $38,679."

Median is defined as exactly half of incomes below and exactly half above the median level.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this writer understands that these players actually get salaries for the year in addition to their playoff bonus check. The O-R must really be doing well these days if the writer thinks that "but when you consider the cut the government and their agents get, it's really not".

I will take a concussion or two to make half of what the lowest paid player in the league makes.

"This is much more about winning a championship to these guys than anything"

I would certainly hope so. I think it safe to say that we won't see any NFL players or O-R staff members at the soup kitchen any time soon.

schnifin said...


Regardless of whether Hines can play or not it would seem smart for the Steelers to have another active WR for the game. Do you think Dallas Baker will be brought back or someone else? And any chance that player might play over Sweed? Tomlin and the rest of the team seemed pretty disgusted by his play/"injury".

Greg Mercer said...

I believe Ben's former WR from college is on the PS (Larry Nance). Any chance he'd get the nod over Baker.

Baker hasn't done much when given the chance.

That said, if we're hoping for a big contribution from our #4 or #5 WR, we're in trouble.

i think Santonio needs to step up even bigger if Ward can't go.

Anonymous said...

99.9% of us would be happy making these types of bonuses. Guys like Big Ben are probably making about $500,000 on a normal week (I think they are paid per game). $20,000-$50,000 probably seems like chump change to most of the players. At this point I would think the players are playing for the love of the game butI wonder why they are not paid more based on the fact that the NFL makes tons of dough of these playoff games/ Superbowl.

Dale, I really appreciated this info. Keep up the good work. You should get a playoff bonus!!

schnifin said...

i second the playoff bonus for dale!

Dale Lolley said...

Yes, smart ass, I realize that players are paid throughout the season.
When these salaries are compared to what players make in other sports - or what the league and TV networks make off it – it's not much.
The Steelers-Ravens game was the most watched television show this fall - by far.
The ratings were through the roof.
And plenty of people say they'd play for that kind of money, but I see these guys after these games where they beat the hell out of each other. I see them after 10 years of playing in the league after the beatings they've taken over the course of their careers.
It's a steep price to pay, particularly when compared to the fate of basketball, hockey or baseball players.
And most money to NFL players is not guaranteed as it is in other sports. If you're cut, you don't get that salary.
Considering the average career of an NFL running back is just over two seasons, it's a steep price.

Anonymous said...


Any idea about the injuries of the Cards? I thought I heard that part of their Defensive Line is injured. I could be wrong on this though.

Dale Lolley said...

They don't have to release any injury info until next week and I haven't really checked on them yet. Unless somebody has a leg missing, they're playing in this game.

Roger said...

What cut of merchandise sales do the players get? Some jerseys are much more popular than others. I would think those players are cashing in much more than others.

I suspect the NFL gets the biggest cut of every item sold. Does anybody have the breakdown?

Are any of the clothing items USA made? Or, are they all imported, at least the primary piece, with names/numbers added in the US? The newly crafted Championship merchandise had to be imprinted here, but it could have been made elsewhere.

I agree with others who chide the players for this kind of money. To be sure, they take a beating and have a limited time of playing. It is their choice. Nobody is forcing them to sign their $XXXM contracts.

Juan said...

The fact that no one is forcing them to sign the contracts is part of the point. It's true that they get paid a ridiculous amount of money when compared to an average worker's salary; however, like Dale says, if you compare their salary to a UN-average worker (say, a NBA or MLB player) they make below the median. Given that most of these guys played other sports in high school/college, the choice to go into the NFL vs. another, less risky sport DESPITE the difference in cost/benefit has to mean something.

Anonymous said...

That's a good chunk of change for the bottom half of the roster. A third to quarter of their annual haul. And the guys above that, many have postseason incentives built into their deals. Ben for example made $250k just for making the playoffs and another $500k for making the SB on his old deal. His new deal might be even more. And several of these guys are FAs after this game. Playoff revenue (gate, concessions, parking,ect.) goes toward total revenue, which is used to determine the salary cap. It's not like they got paid for the year, and the postseason is elective. They get paid, paid some more (PO bonus), then paid again (incentives, endorsements, next contract). There's much to be admired of professional athletes, particularly football players, but let's not get carried away.

Anonymous said...

like many sports reporters and individuals you have become too close to the subject.
It is fine to admire the hard work and what happens to these men. But there are many individuals that are hurt by their choice of occupation without anywhere NEAR the amount of money. Coal miners, policeman, fireman for example.
It is a job, they risk their bodies because that is part of what they are being paid to do.
Whether the NFL has more sense than the other leagues (MLB has many teams that can't make money for example) is not an example to look towards.
If successful they are have the ability to have millions. Few of us have that real opportunity. Those that do, have generally risked everything, family and other things, to achieve it. Most times they have risked their own capital.
You need to take a step back before chastising those in the public that are not feeling sorry for the "small" amounts these men receive. These are harsh times for many Americans.

A fan of your reporting, but....

Dale Lolley said...

These guys are entertainers. They have a skill that less than 1/10th of 1 percent of people in the country have. A 30 second commercial for the Super Bowl costs $3 million.
And I'm not "chastising" anyone. People like to point out that these guys are making millions. There are only a select few that are making that kind of money. Without looking it up, I'd say there are about 20 guys on the Steelers making $1 million or more this season. The vast majority are making far less than that. And again, the average NFL career is quite short.
The coal miner you mentioned - and I have all the respect in the world for those guys - can do his job for 20-plus years.
Most guys only last two or three years in this league because of the injuries.
As I've pointed out in the past, a movie star such as George Clooney gets $20 million per film whether it stinks or not. Nobody complains.
Pro football salaries pale in comparison to other sports. Yes, they're playing fewer games. But C.C. Sabathia will make nearly $1 million per start this year for the Yankees. That's per start, whether he lasts two innings or nine.

schnifin said...


After dropping touchdown passes in consecutive weeks is there any chance that Nance or someone else will get the nod over Sweed? It seemed that alot of Steelers were very upset about the "injury" as well as the drops.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's any question that if my son could play in any professional sport, the nfl would be last on my list. Even though the NFL is my favorite league, etc...

THe players make less becuase:
- their carears are shorter
- per team there's 53 NFL players + practice squad. There's only 12 NBA players, 24? baseball players
- there's "only" 16 games to make gate on in the NFL, versus 162 or 82.

For all those reasons the value of an nfl carear is drammatically less than the other top sports and the impact on your quality of life for the 50 years of life after football is potentially much worse (if you life that long which you most likely won't if you were big guy).

In short I think Dale makes a great point!

Jim said...

all this talk of salaries is boring me. Dale was just trying to make a point and now were in a pissing contest, pro sports players and writers vs the norm. snorefest.

Dale, you mentioned the Steelers were practicing some unusual formations or plays before the AFCCG, and I'm pretty sure we didn't see any of that during the game. The offense seemed pretty vanilla to me except for the usual "ben holding onto the ball for too long."

Do you think they'll practice those plays for the SB or do you think those plays were just meant to beat the Ravens in case our O couldn't get the job done traditionally?

alexrkirby said...

As we have gotten further in the playoffs I really wish Mendenhall was still on the roster. I think the rookie could have broken a big play or two that would have juiced up the offense. We are missing those explosive plays that fresh athletic rookie guys can give you.

Dale Lolley said...

They may activate a receiver based on Ward's health/potential availability, but I would expect it to be Dallas Baker since he has more time in the offense.

We didn't see any of the special stuff they ran in practice last week, but in this game, you might see anything. I'm getting ready to go to practice now, but next week, we're shut out of practice with the rest of the media save one "pool reporter." That's usually some big-name type who spends more time talking to people on the sidelines than he does watching practice.

Greg Mercer said...

Ed Bouchette?

Roger said...

OK, enough with the money ...

Dale, any chance you could explain how you and the Steelers interact at practice? How many reporters? Same people every day, every other day, once per week, or ? What access to the field, to the players, the locker room, any other areas.

Also, hearing what a Game Day is like would be interesting. Where do you get access, sit during a game, access afterward, how many reporters, restrictions, the news conference, ? Any insights would be interesting to hear sometime. Who gets press credentials? Various levels of credentials?

Dale Lolley said...

No, the pool reporter is a national guy, John Clayton, Peter King type. You get the idea.

The Steelers have an open practice - unlike many other teams in the league. Offseason workouts and training camps are open to all media. Inseason, the local media only. There's some chatter between players or front office folk and the media while practice is happening, but most of the time, the players are on the field.

Locker room access is before and after practice for the media. That's when interviews are done.
Game day is spent in the press box until post game. Then there is an open locker room, again, where interviews are done.

Roger said...

Thanks, Dale.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully some of the Steelers and Cards get good numbers on a square board for the SB so they can afford to pay their bills!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Dale was leading the cheers at the pep rally, or was he counting money for the players?

anesha said...

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Hi Nice Blog . I don't really know a lot about Knee or art, but that's just my 2 cents. Really great job though, Krudman! Keep up the good work!