Part of the ongoing contract negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Associations is a discussion about NFL rookies making too much money. The owners think the pay rate for rookies is out of whack, they spent $50 Million in guaranteed money on unproven rookies. Now, in typical heavy handed Roger Goodell style, the league has posted an article ‘proving’ rookies are overpaid because of their under representation in the Pro Bowl.
Money players: Pro Bowl selections average 6.8 years of experience, 83% have 4+ years of experience
The league has a point, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. The Pro Bowl is largely a popularity contest. A 1/3 of the voting is done by the fans, and if you aren’t an unbelievable standout like Ndamukong Suh or play for a high profile team like the Patriot’s Devin McCourty you are going to have a hard time getting the nod. Several players, like Ed Reed and Antonio Gates, who missed more than 1/3 of the season were selected over less popular athletes. The Pro Bowl is by no means a scientific process, it’s not supposed to be. If that were the case we could do away with the voting altogether and just print out a roster based on the stats.
The NFL is a dangerous career. Most drafted football players have contributed a huge amount of their life in training and competition to achieve their high draft status. If they are drafted by a poor team they may be injured and never be able to collect on a big contract. The NFL needs to watch it’s stance here. If there is a salary cap on rookies, and it’s too low, you may see a fall off on the talent entering the draft. I know personally if I was going to take the chance of stepping on a field with a team of pro players, knowing that I could be permanently injured at any time, I would want a LOT of guaranteed money.