If you’ve hated all the articles about Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, lately, man are you going to hate this one.
Not only is it kind of about those two former Steelers, it's about me having a dream I was just like them—an NFL player (perhaps even a Pittsburgh Steeler) who was in-search of a new, multi-year contract complete with loads of guaranteed money.
If you think I’m making this up—and I can certainly understand why you would—I can assure you I am not.
Just the other night, I was in a deep sleep, when I suddenly found myself on the phone talking to my agent about the ongoing negotiations he was having with my boss and NFL owner—it could have been Art Rooney II, Jerry Jones or even Tim Allen (it was a dream, after all, where sometimes your mom is Don Rickles). Anyway, my agent relayed the latest offer from my team—it could have been the Steelers, Cowboys or Harlem Globetrotters. The offer was a five-year deal worth $85 million. Even in my dream, I did the math in my head (don’t ask me how), and when I realized I would only be averaging $17 million a season, I was offended. “That’s it? That’s all they think I’m worth?”
“What about the guaranteed money?” I asked my agent, Eddie Murphy, as Clarence the barber in Coming to America. When he told me only $80 million was guaranteed, I was now so shocked and insulted, I hung up on Clarence and called my sister—it could have been Sharon, Linda or Maude.
My sister was very supportive and sympathetic and agreed with me 100 percent. “It’s horrible that they’re disrespecting you like that,” said Maude as only she could.
Anyway, I guess the main takeaway from my dream (again, I’m not making any of this up—well, except for the stuff about Don Rickles, Eddie Murphy, etc.) was that I actually understood the professional athlete’s side of things in terms of his world, his bubble, the “You’re the best!” echo chamber he likely grew up in the second someone discovered he was good at something athletic and potentially lucrative.
If all you hear your whole life is how great you are—and if you reinforce that belief by surrounding yourself with those that may not want to give you a different and less flattering perspective—you’re going to be offended by a financial offer that literally 99 percent of the population would jump at.
And even if most athletes are grounded and have a healthy grasp on life, again, professional sports is their world, and if Johnny is making more money than you—even if you are pulling in $17 million a year—you might object. You might suffer from some sleepless nights. You might feel underappreciated. You might feel the need to call in sick with the blue flu.
In a way, we can all relate to being underappreciated at work. We can all relate to working our tail off, being the best at whatever it is we do, only to be undervalued, only to be passed over in favor of someone else.
It’s just a lot harder for the average person—the average sports fan—to relate to a professional athlete when there’s so much money involved.
And when that professional athlete tops it off by acting like Antonio Brown has over the past few months, well, the average person—the average sports fan—is just going to think he’s a hockey puck.