Time Out: Mike McCall column for July 15
By MIKE McCALL
July 23, 2012
The mood toward the re-signing of Saints quarterback Drew Brees was summed up nicely on a sign in the window of an uptown New Orleans pet adoption center last week.
“Dear Mr. Benson: Please Pay Drew Brees. Love, The Who Dat Nation!”
Between Brees and Hornets guard Eric Gordon, New Orleans has been awash in contract talk lately, with fans of both teams hoping their shared owner, Tom Benson, would hurry up and open that checkbook.
Whatever it takes, just get it done.
What it took to bag Brees was a five-year, $100 million deal that set NFL records for average yearly salary and guaranteed money ($60 million).
Sports fans have been numb to the numbers for a while, but those are staggering.
The details of Brees’ contract aren’t as simple as just giving him $20 million per year. He’s set to receive a whopping $40 million in 2012, meaning he’ll be paid about $41,666 per minute of game clock in 16 regular-season contests.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income from 2006-10 was $37,468 for New Orleans and $43,445 for the state of Louisiana.
But if there are people angry about that disparity, they’re in the minority.
Brees’ signing was met with jubilation — even LSU coach Les Miles got in on the act via Twitter — both for his on-field heroics that revived the franchise and his off-field embrace of the community through charity and other good works.
Gordon’s case is a little different.
He hasn’t elevated the Hornets to anything yet, missing all but nine games last season due to injury while the team stunk up New Orleans Arena. To make matters worse, there was that love letter he wrote to the city of Phoenix, expressing his desire to play for the Suns.
Gordon has never been an All-Star, but based on averaging 22.3 points per game in 2010-11 and 20.6 last year, the 23-year-old is one of the most talented young scorers in the league and the centerpiece of the team’s future plans.
That landed him a four-year, $58 million offer from the Suns, setting the line that the Hornets matched Saturday to bring him back. Gordon will pull in at least $14.5 million per year, more than Brees was making before his megadeal.
Whether we think they’re worth it or not, these are the going rates for athletes, and there’s no end in sight for astronomical salaries.
When Aaron Rodgers renegotiates his contract with the Packers, Brees’ record payment will be in jeopardy. And thanks to those contract clauses that stipulate some players’ salaries must be on par with others around the league, we’re locked in a constant game of one-upmanship.
You could say it’s unseemly for athletes to make more than teachers, or for these numbers to keep going up while the rest of the country struggles. You wouldn’t be wrong, but the truth is, we’re the ones to blame.
As long as we buy what they’re selling, the numbers will go up and up.