Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Professional athlete happy to accept millions more than fans will make in their entire lifetime, just to show his love of the game.

As you can see, it's not terribly difficult to write an Onion-style headline, and I could go on to write this entire story in that manner but I'm no Stephen Ambrose. When I plagiarize people, I never get caught.

So Jermichael Finley made "news" the other day -- appropriate use of quotations, as you'll see, because this isn't really news even by the lowered standards of "sports news" by announcing that whether the Green Bay Packers want to pay him millions, or even more millions, he's "down with that" as the kids and lame sportswriters say.

Literally say, in the case of "lame sportswriters." Witness this headline from Pro Football Talk:

Jermichael Finley is down with the franchise tag

Oh, is he? Is he "down with" that, Gregg Rosenthal?

Pro Football Talk, you may be interested to know, is a sports site that was started by lawyer Mike Florio and which grew so popular/time-consuming that Florio quit being a lawyer and started just being a sports blogger, and then was acquired as an affiliate by NBC, which is sort of my dream except that I don't want to focus on sports and also I still really like lawyering, but that's all beside the point.

What is the point is that not only did Gregg Rosenthal/PFT by that headline continue the dumbing down of sports by insisting on making their sports talk "hep" and slang-y, which is one of the most annoying things about sports talk (other annoying things include "stupid nicknames for people/things, like on the NFL Network the other day when one of the interchangeable morons said "It gets Late Early Doucet" or some gibberish of that sort, and "making jokes about how women don't like that men like sports) but also that Gregg/PFT pretended that Jermichael Finley being all down with the franchise tag (which, if he likes so much, he shoulda put a ring on)(and it's okay to steal from Beyonce because apparently that's all she does is steal dance moves from other people, making Beyonce the Stephen Ambrose of pop music, and that's the only time that analogy will ever be used.)

Also: I know, as you'll see when you go on to read the rest of this post, that Finley used the phrase down with first, but that's no excuse for Gregg/PFT to run with it. Lots of people say stupid things; reporters aren't supposed to be parrots. Braawwk! Down with that!

Where was I? Oh, yeah, Gregg/PFT pretending that Finley, who didn't play almost at all last year and yet somehow the Packers still won a Super Bowl even though they didn't even have him, saying he's down with the franchise tag is (a) news and (b) to his credit.

Let's look briefly at both.

Is it news, even by sports news standards? Consider the most basic way to determine if something is news: the "man bites dog" story. As the thinking goes, dog bites man is not news because that's what dogs do, especially pit bulls, and especially if you tell them the man is Michael Vick because you've got to believe that dog society has it in for him, and maybe all of us, because while we (you) have apparently forgiven him, I bet dogs haven't and they may ultimately get their revenge on him and people who forgave him.

I'm sorry. I'm writing this at 5:30 a.m. and I apologize for the digressions, but who am I kidding? My writing is digressions. I don't even have a point, most of the time. Imagine what it's like to live with me.

No, seriously. Imagine it. I'll wait.

If you pictured lots of pizza and quoting from Better Off Ted, you were about 98% accurate.

But when a man bites a dog, that's news, because that doesn't happen so much.

So is a football player saying "Boy, I'm really okay if they give me more money" NEWS? It's clearly not. It's not news when anyone says that, let alone a football player whose easily as known for saying how great he is as he is for actually being great.

(In his career, Finley has played in 39 games, of a total of 60 the Packers played in that time. His career average is 35 yards per game. He's not great, not yet. He has potential, I suppose, but let's not name him the new Tony Gonzalez just yet.)

But the Green Bay Packers are big on Finley, apparently (or maybe not, as they haven't yet offered him the mega-millions he's okay with -- down with-- getting paid) and so they're in negotiations, which also isn't news, especially when you consider that there's no actual proof they're in negotiations.

What the Gregg/PFT story actually reports is that Finley is hoping the Packers will, you know, make him an offer. There's a complete lack of any quotes, direct or indirect, from the Packers, so the story is essentially Jermichael Finley issuing a press release to announce that the Packers can either offer him a lot of money, or they can use the franchise tag and be required to pay him a lot of money.

And Finley, we're told by Gregg/PFT, is "saying all the right things." Things like, on if the Packers franchise tag him:

“If they do that, I’m down with that..I ain’t going to be [ticked] off. I just love the game, and I was just blessed to be making money. I’m just taking it all in.”

I'm guessing, by the use of the brackets (which are in the original PFT quote) that Finley actually didn't say the right thing there, if you want to fun a family organization.

Finley is also saying all the right things by ripping on the city he loves so much he's willing to get paid millions to go on living in. About Green Bay, he says:

“You can’t ask for a better city just because there’s nothing to do, for one thing...I’m going to be real with you, there’s less trouble you can get into."
I've been to Green Bay. You'd have to pay me to live there, too. But it's refreshing that Jermichael Finley is open with the press (he's real with them, because he's down with reality, too) and admits that one reason he loves Green Bay is he can't get into trouble there. (Unless, of course, he's black and walks across the street. Got to keep those property values up, Green Bay, right?)

So is it news that Jermichael Finley is "down with" getting paid? I think not.

More importantly, is it to Finley's credit that if the Packers don't offer him a whopping big contract and instead choose to "franchise tag" him, he's down with that, too?

The franchise tag comes in two varieties: exclusive and non-exclusive. Both versions require that the player get the greater of the average of the top 5 salaries at his position or 120% of his current pay, whichever is greater. Both require only a 1-year contract and guarantee the pay; while guaranteed contracts are becoming more common in the NFL, they're not the standard.

Which is to say: a franchise player is guaranteed at least a 20% pay increase over what he's making now. Or more. Currently, the average regular salary not including signing bonuses of the top 5 tight ends is just under $6 million. Finley is set to make $1.2 million this year, so a franchise tag guarantees him a nearly 500% salary increase.

Non-exclusive franchise players are allowed to negotiate with other teams, and if they sign an offer sheet, the franchise-team can match it, so non-exclusive players are in a position to increase their salary by more than the required amount, and may get a longer-than-one-year contract.

So what Jermichael Finley is down with is getting, at a minimum, a 20% pay increase combined with a guarantee that he'll be paid for the year, to stay in a city that keeps him out of trouble.

Does he even deserve that? What are the odds that Green Bay would, absent the franchise tag, have to pay Finley $6 million bucks? Finley, this year, is ranked (right now) 15th in receptions; while PFT says that's likely because of all the other targets Green Bay has, Packers WR Greg Jennings is ranked 5th in receptions and no other Packer is in the top 20 for that category.

When he does get the ball, he doesn't do all that much with it. Finley is 21st in average yards per reception -- while his teammate, TE Andrew Quarless, is 3rd. Granted, Quarless only has 1 reception, for 21 yards, but still, Finley is 21st, behind people like Jared Cook and Joel Dreessen, and no, I don't know who those guys are, either.

Yard per game? Finley's 10th. Longest reception? 13th. It's only in touchdowns that he cracks the top 5, tied for 4th with three other tight ends. But he balances that out by being 15th in first down percentage. So maybe Finley's number is only getting called when he's near the goal... or maybe Finley doesn't try all that hard on plays in the middle of the field. That's for smarter people than me to decide.

It's apparently not for Pro Football Talk to decide, because despite talking about pro football for a living, they did not engage in any of that analysis. They weren't down with it.

Pro Football Talk, by the way, is primarily an aggregator of news, which makes them sort of the Beyonce of sports writing. Nice work if you can get it, though, which could also be said about being a below-average, but much-hyped tight end who has decided to start trying to convince his team, and the NFL world, that he is worth $6 million a year despite all the evidence suggesting that he's not even worth the $1.2 million he'll make for this fair-to-middlin' season.

The average household income in Green Bay, Wisconsin, by the way, is $40,000. So Jermichael Finley, who apparently only bothers really trying when he's in the end zone and the cameras are on, will earn, this year alone, THIRTY TIMES what his fans pull in.

But he's down with earning 150 times what you make. He's just sayin'.

ECLIPSE: a sci-fi story about Claudius, who wanted to be the first man to reach the stars. Did he get there? Or did he commit murder? Or both? In this kaleidoscopic trip through space, time, and Claudius' mind, you'll find more questions than answers, and a thrilling, mystifying story.

"This book is brilliant. I'm still trying to figure it all out much in the same way that I sit on my couch trying to figure out a David Lynch movie like Mulholland Drive. There is just so much to wrap my head around that it becomes a little mind-boggling."

-- Author Michael Offutt, on Eclipse.

Buy the book on Amazon or on your Kindle!


Rogue Mutt said...

You know what's funny though is people talk about the high football salaries and yet for the most part football players make squat compared to baseball players. The Yankees just gave CC Sabtathia an extra four years on his deal, each year being worth $25-30 million! That's 5-6 times what Finley makes and Sabathia plays only once every five days and no one is slamming into him at high speed. I mean have you seen that guy? He's like 500 pounds! He gets any bigger and he'll have to pitch from a forklift. And he's an "athlete" making $25 million! It's ridiculous.

But really it's just like CEOs and politicians where as long as stupid people keep paying these outrageous salaries, why shouldn't they take the money?

Maybe they should be Occupying Yankee Stadium next spring.

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