Getting paid what you’re worth in life is a constant struggle. Unless you’ve got Jerry Buss as your pops or you’ve artificially inseminated yourself in hopes of lading a reality show only to spin that into a lucrative career of stripping in coal mining towns while appearing in self-pleasure videos on the side then odds are you’re going to be engaging in a daily battle to make the kind of coin you deserve.
That’s why in the National Football League the science of the contract holdout has become as practiced as the art of mocking U.S. presidents.
No matter what you see reported, forget all those multi-year deals with obscene dollar amounts and just know that every single NFL contract is a one-year audition. That hideous term of “Roster Bonus” only means “make the team and then we’ll talk.”
So you can completely understand why even a headliner like Drew Brees had to pull a gangster move amid the worst offseason in Saints’ history just get his scratch. It’s not the most fan friendly way to demand a raise but in the brutal bottom line business of football it’s the only way.
For those that might be considering how to get what they’re owed I’ve put together a few guidelines to get you through the peaks and valleys of a contract holdout. Now this need not apply to NFLers only. The Dwight Howards of the world could clearly use a holdout role model and I’m here to help.
1) Know your role, jabroni! – Who sums it up better than the man formerly credited as The Rock? Don’t get all David Caruso and act like you’re bigger box office draw than what the numbers say you are. The JaMarcus Russell tactic of demanding a payday before putting in an hour of work so offended the Football Gods that a rookie wage scale was implemented. No thanks to that poor Andrew Luck will have to slum if for a few years in a shack of a 13-bedroom mansion until he can break ground on a Jeter Compound of his own. Toss in Michael Crabtree using Mel Kiper’s mock draft as a reason to get a phat rookie deal and you’ve got yourself a game changer. You don’t want to be the guy that spoils it for everyone that comes after you. Know your role. Stay in your lane and understand how this process works. You’re going to be hated no matter what by the public so don’t turn your co-workers into instant enemies too.
2) How diversified is your portfolio? – Every athlete needs coaching both on and off the field. Hiring some PR firm to act as your mouthpiece is fine. However there is a fine line between feeding someone a few phrases to sound sincere and over coaching them to the point where they sound like Katie Holmes discussing L. Ron Hubbard with Tom Cruise over her shoulder. The generic phrases of “maximize”, “process”, “owed”, “respect” and “long-term future” are played. That old jock-speak of “maximizing your talents” while letting “this process play out” is lazier than K-Fed on disability with a pound of OG Bubba. It’s the new millennium of holdouts, baby! PR firms need to have their clients throwing out terms like “annuities”, “letters of guarantee” or “working capital”. Do any of these terms apply to an NFL contract? Not exactly. But to the public it will at least sound like you’re trying to do more than just get paid. You’re revealing that there is more to a contract than years and dollar amounts. Plus it will seem like you’re more likely to make it gain than make it rain.
3) Avoid The Sprewell Method At All Costs – As part of this “process” there will be some back and forth. At some point you’ll receive an insulting offer to which there are only two ways to respond. There is the Sprewell Technique which is to balk at an eight-figure offer by saying you’ve got “kids to feed”. Hey, I get it. But unless your kids are so great in number that they could double the population of Rhode Island then you’d be better off going the opposite direction. Use some of the phrases we mentioned above. Here’s an example. “I fully appreciate the position my employers are in. However, I’m looking for something in the form of a letter of guarantee that will secure my long-term future. We’ve seen the team’s working capital and I’m not at all in the wrong for requesting compensation in some form of an annuity.” Long winded? Yes! But that’s the point. This is classic politics where you toss out catchphrases in a wordy answer that doesn’t address the issue but somehow answers everything. It’s the polite way of talking smack and look no further than Sarah Palin to see just how far the idiot’s guide to syntax can get you.
4) Nice Guys Finish Last – I’ve got nothing but respect for Matt Fortebut he didn’t read rule #1. Know your role, son! Quarterbacks can have middle-finger seasons where they ball hard just to prove a point. Running backs? Not so much. This is a business. Forte was the heart and soul of Chicago’s offense. And what did he get for being a professional? Michael Bush, that’s what. This is not time to make nice. You’re entering a contract year and you need more jack. The high road is for Tommy Chong and Woody Harrelson. The holdout is the only way to get what you’re truly owed. Playing nice means playing to lose. Gotta be a killer in this game. [Insert additional clichéd bargaining line here]. Point is, an NFL front office is generally at the back of the line when it comes to taking care of those that are humble and don’t play quarterback.
5) The Revis Return on Investment – Never forget why you do get paid to do what it is you do. You’re a ball player that is exceptionally talented. So when the day that your holdout ends and you ink your deal for mega-millions know that you’ve got to go even harder every day. Chris Johnson called himself an elite playmaker, demanded to get paid as such and then subsequently crapped on everyone’s fantasy draft. Make your loot and then earn it again. Trust me. Nobody is going to remember how you held the team’s salary cap hostage if you’re tearing it up on Sundays. Like Charlie Wilson said, “we f&*#@d up the end game”. Don’t cry hardworking and broke then turnaround and play rich and lazy. You’ve got to do the opposite and go at it like you’re still not happy with your deal. Call it Revis Return on Investment. You can keep holding out every other year so long as you’re consistently outplaying other people at your position. You’ll have all the leverage and what’s more is fans will start to turn on management instead of you. It’s just that simple.