NBA free agency opened on Friday, and millions of dollars came blasting through the floodgates. DeMar DeRozan got $139 million, Timofey Mozgov is $64 million richer, Andre Drummond - $130 million, Mike Conley - a cool $153 million. And that is just the tip of the NBA’s mountain of cash.
With NFL players currently on break from the offseason, some Detroit Lions couldn’t help but comment on the ridiculous amounts of cash being thrown around by the league. Their response on Twitter was...overwhelming:
NBA deals make me feel like I chose the wrong sport— Darius slay (@_bigplayslay23) July 1, 2016
Man what a time to be alive to be a NBA bench player— Darius slay (@_bigplayslay23) July 1, 2016
watching these basketball contracts has me wishing I was 8 inches taller!— Quandre Diggs (@qdiggs6) July 1, 2016
Can I start playing basketball now? https://t.co/iX1LKvXNJX— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) July 1, 2016
The top end money is expected for these other sports. It's just amazing how much backups get paid to start on other teams.— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) July 1, 2016
These NBA contracts ...I have a jumper ... Let me eat!!!— Brandon Copeland (@BCopeLB) July 1, 2016
Hold wait what is Conley bout to get again— rafael bush (@rbush36) July 1, 2016
But the players’ envy comes from a place of truth. It’s nearly impossible to deny that footballers put their body more at risk than most, if not all, other sports in America. They have much less job security than a typical NBA player. Their professional careers last, on average, 1.3 years less than a basketball player. And despite all of that, they get paid less. Way less. According to a study by Business Insider, the top 100 NBA players average a salary of $13.3 million. The top 100 NFL players? $11.6 million.
That’s not even taking into consideration that the majority of players the NFL employs are well beyond that top 100 status, while the top 100 NBA players encapsulates the majority of starters around the league.
When looking at overall salaries, the discrepancy is way more pronounced. According to a 2012 Forbes study, the average NBA salary is $5.15 million compared to just $1.9 million in the NFL, the lowest of the four major American sports.
This isn’t meant as a plea for the NFL to give their employees better treatment, the debate would be far more nuanced than this (take, for example, that the NFL employs 1696 players a season, and that is only counting the players on the active roster). This is just meant to point out that it’s hard out there for an NFL player, at least comparatively speaking.