View Full Version : Playoff payoff? Some players don't believe the postseason is worth it

12-24-2008, 09:45 PM
The playoff push will come to a screeching halt this Sunday as teams that have fought furiously down the stretch find out whether they have a spot in the 12-team tournament. Some teams' Super Bowl hopes are about to vanish. Coaches' livelihoods will be at stake. Yet there's one surprising thing about some NFL players this time of year that fans and media alike are unaware of: Not all of the players really care if their team makes the playoffs.

It is strange, but true, and one of the secrets of the NFL I learned firsthand. It happened my rookie year, in 2001, under Redskins head coach Marty Schottenheimer. We were in the thick of the wild-card race coming down the stretch and I remarked to one of the veteran players about how awesome it would be if we could get in. He just shrugged.

"Don't you want to make the playoffs?" I asked.

"Nah, not really," he replied.

I was floored. I was a bright-eyed youngster loving every second of the NFL and his response brought me back to the harsh reality of the business. He went on to say he just wanted the season to be over so that he could head down to Florida for New Year's Eve. He showed up to the last game with a packed-to-the-gills U-Haul attached to his SUV. He was leaving right from the stadium, right after the game.

Granted, players like this are the exception and not the rule, but they do exist. Like their peers, they're mentally and physically exhausted from a marathon season that starts in late July with training camp. They just want to go home, and the playoffs aren't motivation enough for them. Some doubt their team would even get very far even if it did make the postseason.

These players are almost always motivated solely by money, and they look at playoff income as a pay cut rather than a bonus. Case in point, most people know that NFL players get paid their entire salary during the regular season. That means a guy making $1.7 million, a fairly common salary in the NFL, gets $100,000 every week of the season. Every player on a playoff team will receive an $18,000 check, which is why some players feel as if they are performing at a lower rate of pay.

Sounds ridiculous to most people, I'm sure, but the truth is the playoffs are simply not as important to some players as they are to the fans of that team. Those players aren't fans of that team. They probably didn't grow up in that city. They may or may not be in the last year of their contract. For them, this is just a high-paying and extremely physical mode of employment.

These type of players are usually former high-round picks who have already made a lot of money during their career and are jaded by the business. Obviously, players like this are not the type any fan, coach or teammate wants on their team. Franchises must find a way to weed out players like this. Can you imagine a player with that kind of attitude lasting very long in Indianapolis or New England?

Believe me, players in the middle and back-end of a roster would never have this mentality. They know how important it is to their future to make the playoffs. The $18,000 is a welcomed bonus, sure, but a bigger motivation comes from knowing that the only constant in the NFL is the change on every team from one season to the next. That change is amplified when a team fails to make the tournament; it is minimized if a team exceeds expectations and makes the playoffs. I know that all too well.

I started 12 games for the Buffalo Bills in 2004. We won six in a row heading into the season finale. Alas, we didn't beat the Steelers to make the playoffs, and the first change came in February, when the team released Drew Bledsoe and handed over the reins to J.P. Losman. We all know how that turned out. I was eventually released as well. There is no telling what personnel decisions would have been made had we secured a postseason spot. That is why most coaches and players realize how valuable those opportunities really are.

Even higher profile players can comprehend the tremendous increase in exposure they receive for being a top player on a playoff-bound team. Even that, however, is not what the playoffs is really about. For most NFL personnel, at least I hope, the biggest motivation comes from having the opportunity to win a championship and being able to say that you were a part of something special. Every organization should strive to have people in place that wholeheartedly believe that at their very core.

And isn't that what makes the NFL playoffs so special in the first place? That it really isn't about the money. It is about the pursuit of a title, the chance for a ring, and the glory and lifelong memories that come as a result of it.

For the vast majority of NFL players, the answer is yes. For a select few, sadly, the answer is no.


Hmm. Didn't know that.

12-24-2008, 10:01 PM
I believe for most NFL players, it is about the gut, grind and glory that goes along with traveling the playoff road and winning the SB, as well as a tremendous amount of pride, but I agree with the author - there are some money grubbin' jackwads out there who don't put pride above the almighty dollar and that is truly sad. The money eventually spends out but the memories last forever.

12-25-2008, 12:12 AM
a professional athlete who needs more money (more than the millions they get every year) to win at their sport should just retire. they're in it for the wrong reasons. ask joe montana, terry bradshaw, jerry rice, or jerome bettis if they played for the check, see what they tell you. you may only get 18k for the playoffs, but becoming a football legend is priceless and timeless.

The Duke
12-25-2008, 12:18 AM
Doesn't suprise me one bit

I saw lots of players like this on the dolphins roster last season. Players that just didn't care about the team probably going winless. Smiling and everything after every loss

At least this year's lions just plain suck, lol

12-25-2008, 03:01 AM
Wow.. an 18,000 dollar A WEEK BONUS on top of your salary, just for playing. If you win, you get ANOTHER bonus next week.

I know a lot of people that would be willing to take that bonus right about now.

12-25-2008, 03:08 AM
Boo-frickin-hoo! I don't make much more than 18,000 all year and these guys get it for one week. Cry me a freaking river!

Ever wonder why actors and athletes that entertain us make exponentially more money than the doctors and pharmacists, police, firemen and paramedics that save our lives? Crazy world huh?

silver & black
12-25-2008, 09:52 AM
I think I know a team full of players like that.

The Duke
12-25-2008, 11:56 AM
I think I know a team full of players like that.

Lol, who may that be :chuckle:

12-25-2008, 02:03 PM
Then why doesn't the NFL Player's association work on geting a bigger cut for the playoffs? While I agree the players should be happy with the vast amount of money they make, why aren't they given a financial incentive? If your company is giving you an incentive to earn a bonus equal to 10% of your annual salary, you'll try a lot harder than if that bonus is 1% of your annual salary. The present system gives financial incentive for owners to host a home game or two - lots of revenue, with lowered expenses for those games - but minimal financial incentives for the players.

What could be done is for playoff bonuses to increase, while the salary cap decreses by an equal amount. However, the players union would probably not go for that because it would result in a cut in pay for most, offset by an increase in pay for a few - even though the total salary + playoff bonus was equal. If the players won't go for it though, owners should - because it will result in the players trying harder, and putting a better product on the field. That in turn will result in a better experience for their customers - us, the fans. The more satisfied the fans are, the more that will watch, and purchase NFL products.

12-27-2008, 09:47 AM
I don't even make $18K in a year right now, and some players are bitching about making that in only one week?

Professional athletes make way too much money as it is. They make millions of dollars to play a sport. They aren't saving lives or even dealing with the general public on a daily basis. They aren't even a part of the general public, they are their own private sector.

This is why so many people still don't particularly care for the NBA. Players were bitching in the last strike/lockout that they couldn't live off of what they were making. I'd love to see them try to live their lives off of what I make.

silver & black
12-28-2008, 10:15 AM
And thats the way to go out 0-16 :thumbsup:

Actually, I had a different team in mind. :wink02: