Right Field

William Rhoden: Veterans Sold Out The Rookies

Rhoden writes in today’s New York Times:

The empty feeling some players may have in their hearts this week is a sense of guilt that comes from betrayal. To achieve a deal, top N.F.L. rookies were sacrificed. They will receive less so veteran players and retired players can receive more.

The N.F.L. players union gave owners the pound of flesh they wanted by effectively selling out their little brothers. And veterans must now look rookies in the eye in training camp and explain how they could do such a thing.

Easy. There weren’t many options. There was one seat left on the bus and the veterans snatched it.

The owners were out for bear. They were determined to get a significant economic concession from the players, and the most convenient place to get it was from the money previously reserved for high-priced rookies.

As a result, there will, among other things, be a drastic change in the compensation for the top 10 selections in this year’s N.F.L. draft.

The package signed by the St. Louis Rams’ Sam Bradford last season and the deal Cam Newton is expected to sign with the Carolina Panthers this year underline the shift.

Bradford signed a six-year contract that could be worth $78 million, $50 million of it guaranteed. The speculation is that Newton, who led Auburn to a national championship, could sign a four-year deal worth slightly more than $22 million. The unknown factor is how much will be guaranteed. But the numbers alone — Bradford at $78 million over six years versus Newton at $22 million over four — speak for themselves.

Is Rhoden crazy? We’re to weep from Cam Newton because he’s only guaranteed $22 million? Rhoden goes on to say that rookies matter and are good for the game as they create fan excitement. Well, as a Raiders fan, I know for a fact that old-geezer Rich Gannon was more of a fan-favorite than that exciting, overpaid rookie JaMarcus Russell.

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