Ridiculous money for NFL rookies

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:34 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA — For those of us fortunate enough to be in New York City’s grand Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night for the NFL’s annual allotment of college football beef, the hypocrisy of the entire event will be front and centre for all to see.

With a national television audience breathlessly watching, we all wish the No. 1 pick the best in his impending professional football career, whether it is Auburn’s Cam Newton, Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert or anyone else that the Carolina Panthers choose to call out as the top choice.

But , given the dark cloud of labour uncertainty that has loomed over NFL in recent months as the league and its players fight about how to slice up a multi-billion dollar revenue pie, perhaps now, more than ever, the spotlight should be shining on ludicrous gobs of cash that have been thrown in the past at the upper end selections.

A year ago, when Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was picked first overall by the St. Louis Rams, he eventually inked a six-year, $78-million US deal that included $50 million in guaranteed money. It was, at the time, the largest contract in NFL history.

Ridiculous.

The moment Bradford put pen to paper, he immediately made more money than Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and much more than Aaron Rodgers, who would lead the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl title in early February in icy Dallas.

How does that happen?

At the time, Bradford had never taken a snap in a regular-season NFL game. He had never completed a pass, never tossed a touchdown, never posted an NFL victory.

Brady and Manning had four Super Bowl titles between them. And yet, at that moment, they were making less.

That’s more than just a flaw in the system. It’s an ugly wart on the entire league.

Fortunately, the NFL is aware of how silly and unfair it is to stuff the wallets of these unproven, at-times immature kids while battle-tested make significantly less.

Earlier this month, published reports surfaced that the NFL’s proposal to the NFL’s Players Association prior to the breakdown of negotiations in March called for $300 million annually to be taken away from first-round picks and instead be targeted to veterans and player benefits.

If that, in fact, ends up being the case, the two sides should be applauded.

Wipe away all the hype and hoopla that surrounds the draft thanks to propaganda machines like the NFL Network, ESPN and hundreds of sites on the world-wide blogosphere, and you come to this conclusion: The draft really is a crapshoot.

Does anyone remember that the Cleveland Browns once took Tim Couch first overall? How’d that work out?

What about the Oakland Raiders taking JaMarcus Russell at No. 1 in 2007? Obviously, the most prominent Black Hole in Oakland was between the ears of Al Davis and his incompetent management team that ended up paying $38 million to Russell between the time he was drafted and cut.

And don’t you find it funny that all these so-called draft experts never get called out on their misses of the previous year?

Twelve months ago, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper pegged Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen to go ninth overall to the Buffalo Bills. Not only did he end up dropping into later rounds, he was so ineffective for Carolina, the Panthers are now considering taking Newton.

If that’s the way the Panthers go, it should be as much to put butts in the seats as victories in the win column. Newton is an electrifying athlete, sure, but his ability to read defences has a lot to be desired. If he is still there at No. 3, the Buffalo Bills should snap him up not for his talent, but because of the buzz he would bring to the otherwise moribund franchise.

Whatever happens, let’s hope the NFL’s labour wars result in less money for all these guys. Otherwise, the league’s salary structure will continue to be a farce.


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