I'm not one of those people who thinks that professional athletes are overpaid--hey, if I was in their shoes, I'd try to make as much money as possible--but I do think that many have lost perspective and don't necessarily realize just how lucky they are to be doing what they're doing.
It's all relative, I suppose. Your average high-paid pro-athlete probably hasn't had to work very many 9-to-5 jobs in his life, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't had to pay the price from a physical and mental standpoint to get to where he is.
As fans, we might see an athlete's problems as pretty minor in the big picture because, to us, we'd probably trade lives with them in a heartbeat. However, that doesn't mean that their problems don't bother them as much as our problems bother us.
Stress and anxiety are pretty tough to handle whether you're earning minimum wage or seven-figures.
But when it comes to a professional athlete letting his contract status ruin his life, well, that's where I draw the line.
Last night, I was listening to sports talk radio, and a caller said that he wanted the Steelers to pick up Peyton Hillis next season to be the team's new featured running back because he didn't think that Rashard Mendenhall has the mental toughness to make it in the NFL.
I had to laugh out-loud when I heard that. In-case you don't know, Peyton Hillis is going through "hell" this season because of his contract status with the Cleveland Browns. Hillis is earning $600,000 this year, and while I don't disagree that he probably deserves more money (based on last season, anyway), you would think that earning over half a million to play football would allow you to concentrate on your craft while your agent tries to hammer out a new deal for you. However, I guess Hillis is so distraught that he's letting it interfere with his play on the field.
DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles is another player who wants to make more money and is just so darn frustrated over his contract situation.
Jackson has been fined, deactivated and benched because life's just so difficult for him in 2011. According to what I researched online, Jackson has earned roughly a million dollars so far in his brief career. If you've already made that kind of money, why get so upset over how much you want to make in the future? You're getting paid a lot of money to play football. Enjoy life.
Of course, this is nothing new, even for our beloved Steelers. One of the first things that new Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had to deal with when he arrived in Pittsburgh in 2007 was guard Alan Faneca's unhappiness with his contract status. Faneca was in the last year of his contract with Pittsburgh, and even though he showed up for camp, he wasn't very happy and was so distraught over matters that he asked his teammates to not name him a captain because he didn't think he could be a great leader that year.
One of the things that stuck with me from that mess was Faneca saying that he just wanted to be treated "fairly." If I remember correctly, the legendary guard was set to make $3.5 million at the time of that statement. Fairly? Seriously?
What these professional athletes need to realize (and I really believe most of them do) is that, not only have they been treated fairly since the day someone discovered their exceptional talents in high school, but their lives have been absolutely blessed.
So while I sympathize with athletes who want to earn top dollar if their talent dictates that kind of money, I have no time for any player who acts miserable over his contract status.
It's one of the few times that I notice the disconnect between the pro-athletes and the average fan.