DeSean Jackson was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, the seventh wide receiver taken in the draft, and in July of that year he agreed to terms on a four-year contract with the team. Two Pro Bowl selections later, Jackson is one of the best young wide-outs in the game and still working through a contract that only guarantees him $600,000 for the season. That’s about 600,000 times what I make in a year, but less (a lot less) than market value for a player of his ability. He’ll play his first game of the season on Sunday.
But, as I’m sure you’re asking yourself, what would Terrell Owens do?
T.O. talked to 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia and gave one of the history’s most predictable answers when asked if he’d show up and play on Sunday were in DeSean Jackson’s situation. From Shutdown Corner, by way of Philadelphia Sports Daily:
“Absolutely not,” Owens replied. “I would have to better myself and my family and my situation. That’s ridiculous.”
Owens said that Jackson has obviously received advice “to go in there, be a man about it and play under the existing contract that he has,” adding, “but I guarantee you — if he goes out and gets hurt, God forbid, he’s not going to get the contract that he probably would have gotten if he held out.”
“These greedy athletes make too much money!” is a really terrible blogger talking point, much like “I have to provide for my family” is a terrible pro athlete talking point, so the truth falls somewhere in the middle — yes, DeSean Jackson is comparably worth more than what he’s being paid, but he signed a contract for x amount of years wherein he agreed upon his worth and no amount of crossing your arms and holding your breath should negate that. Otherwise, what’s the point of a contract? It’s not unique for me to say that holding out is an absolutely ass thing to do to your team, or that a player shouldn’t be able to say “I’m okay with you paying me this much to play well, oh hey look I played well, give me more money”, or that “functional, workable adult” would be a great way to socially support your family, but I will include all of them in this sentence anyway.
I think professional football players should look at T.O. as their game’s Donny Don’t. If the guy with great natural talent and lots of money who will live out the rest of his life as the “locker room poison guy who isn’t worth it” says you should do something, do the opposite. So, in this case, be a reliable, valued member of a pro sports organization, and the second that contract is up start demanding every dollar in history.