Recently, NFL stars such as Le’veon Bell and Earl Thomas have skipped training camp and missed games because they do not have long-term deals with their teams. The players choose to holdout because if they get injured while playing, their careers could come to an end, leaving them without a long-term financial plan. Meanwhile, teammates of these players have voiced opinions both in support of Le’veon and Earl, and others called them out for being selfish.
The problem with holding out is that they are losing money in the process along with letting their teammates down. Le’veon Bell, running back for the Steelers, is under franchise tag for 2018. This means the team is paying him for only the 2018 season. The issue with him complaining about losing potential money is that for every game he skips he misses out on nearly $900,000. To put that into context, the average person makes about $44,000 per year. Over the course of the 2018 season, the running back would make about $14 million if he reported week one. Not only did Le’veon leave all of this money on the table, but he turned down a five year seventy million dollar deal, which contradicts his “need” for a long-term deal. In addition to lost money, many teammates feel that Le’veon is being selfish. Ramon Foster, an offensive lineman for the Steelers stated the following: “He’s making seven times what I make and twice as much as Al Villanueva is making, yet we’re the guys who do it for him.” His teammates are clearly frustrated that he has not shown up yet, and they feel that he is being selfish. Le’veon’s decision to sit out to start the year, and turn down the contract offered to him is a highly questionable one.
On the other hand, holding out for a contract does merit a good argument. Earl Thomas, a free safety for the Seahawks, sat out of training camp but returned for the regular season. Earl was playing very well to start the year, however, he suffered a lower leg fracture just a few weeks into the season. This is what Le’veon feared may happen to him, which would most likely lower his value if he tries to sign an extension with his current team, or in signing a contract with a new team. His fear is realistic because injuries in football are very common, especially to running backs because they get hit nearly every play. Furthermore, many believe that Le’veon is helping future players, and sacrificing the money he would have made for the better. They support Bell because he is giving up an entire season, that he would love to be playing in, in order to help not only himself but others in murky contract situations.
Le’veon Bell and Earl Thomas have made bold decisions in their holdouts. Earl Thomas’s injury represents the dangerous nature of football and the reason why players protest for better financial situations. Even though his teammates have called him out, Le’veon still continues to hold out, which takes courage. The decision to hold out may be self-motivated and foolish, but Bell has fair reasons to do so.
Graphic: Matt Gluckow