Loose Ball: NFL Star Out of His League

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Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is good at his job, which is running routes and catching footballs. He led the NFL in receptions with 115 in 2010, and finished second last season with 100 receptions.

White is just the eighth player in league history to record five consecutive seasons with at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards. He also won the team's 2011 "Good Guy" award from the Pro Football Writers of America, which means he's good in the locker room, too.

But when it comes to understanding business in general and the business of pro sports in particular, White obviously has a lot to learn. That's the only explanation for his Twitter rant Monday regarding NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is reportedly set to make around $20 million per year at the end of his recent five-year extension.


"Roger Goodell is getting over," White tweeted from his @RoddyWhiteTV account. "Never seen anything like it 20 million for looking over the league with tremendous help I guess the NFL is banking. The NFL is not a company it's a nonprofit organization that makes a lot of profit."

One of the tweets, which went viral, reflected a widely held misperception concerning the relationship between labor and management: "How in the hell can u pay a man this much money that cant run tackle or catch."


Here's what White fails to understand: No matter how much the workers or the "talent" makes, whoever signs their paychecks is making more. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was the NFL's highest-paid player last season at $23 million. But team owner Jim Irsay had a net worth of $1.4 billion last year, according to Forbes.

Like entertainers in movies, TV and music, athletes can earn fat salaries. But as with any business, the real money lies in ownership. Not workership.


Former athletes like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan get it, since they've bought into sports franchises. Oprah and Tyler Perry get is, since they've started their own entertainment ventures. Music moguls Jay-Z and P. Diddy got it a long time ago.

White should take a look at Forbes' list of the nation's highest-paid CEOs, all of whom receive stock in addition to cash for compensation. Walt Disney's Roger Iger comes in at No. 3. No one buys a movie ticket or turns on the TV to see Iger, but he made $53.3 million last year.


Likewise, no one buys an NFL ticket or turns on the game to watch Goodell. But in sports, the top guys in suits make more than the top guys in uniforms.

The sooner White and aspiring athletes understand that formula and get in on it, the better off they'll be.


Deron Snyder's Loose Ball column appears regularly on The Root. Follow him on Twitter and reach him at BlackDoor Ventures, Inc.

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