bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Joe Flacco is the highest paid player in NFL history. Really.

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Professional athletes make a lot of money. Especially the ones whose names you know. Sure, some of them make a lot more than others, but even the supposed have-nots likely make a good bit more than you do. Some of them make more than you’ll make in your whole life, and if you lived multiple lives, you still might not get there. Usually, although not always, the best players make the most money. Sure, you can find a young superstar who has not yet cashed in on his first big contract who seems woefully underpaid, and you can also easily spot guys who had a big year, hit it big, and then never approached that level of accomplishment again, but I think it is fair to say that most of the guys making the biggest money are among the elite in their respective sports. Maybe I’m silly, but I feel like a guy who signs a deal that makes him the highest paid player in the history of his league should not only be the best player in that league, but one of the all-time greats. This week, Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco agreed to such a deal. Joe Flacco. Huh?

Flacco led the Ravens to a Super Bowl win last month at the age of 28. He has a great record as a starting quarterback, especially in the playoffs, and his career statistics are very good all around. He has great size for a quarterback and has a big arm that can make all the throws. Still, though…Joe Flacco will be the highest-paid player ever? The deal will pay him more than $20 million per season, just ahead of what Drew Brees makes with the New Orleans Saints. I simply can’t fathom this development. It would be ridiculous of me to say that Flacco is not a good quarterback, as he obviously is one. However, there is no way he is the best quarterback in the NFL. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees are clearly better players, in my eyes. He has never even made the Pro Bowl, and it seems like everyone makes the Pro Bowl lately. He had a great run through the playoffs this year, and was instrumental in his team winning the Super Bowl, but let’s not forget that Mark Rypien, Jeff Hostetler, and Trent Dilfer won Super Bowls as well, Dilfer with the Ravens. Nobody would have ever considered making any one of those guys the highest paid player in league history.

Flacco was a first-round draft pick of the Ravens in 2008. He left the University of Pittsburgh after he couldn’t crack the starting lineup in his first two seasons, transferring to lower-division Delaware where he played well and made a name for himself. Still, I don’t think anyone saw him as a superstar (I guess maybe the Ravens did), and his first few years, including this one, really, have shown him to be a very good, if un-spectacular, quarterback. He is a tough guy and seems to be a solid citizen. I have no reason to root against him, beyond something that was not his fault, like the fact that he played on the same team as Ray Lewis. There is just no way that I see him as the best player in the league or anything even close to that, and the fact that he makes more than anyone in his sport ever has certainly cements his position on my list of guys for whom I won’t be cheering. I feel pretty confident that the team will be regretting this contract before too long, but I also know that they will likely have an easier escape from the deal that it would seem, as NFL contracts are usually not overly iron-clad.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Unlike Flacco, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is a guy I can see eventually being worthy of being the highest-paid player in his sport. This kid is spectacular, and he not only won the American League’s Rookie of the Year award last season, he nearly won its MVP award as well. Based on Major League Baseball’s bizarre contract system for young players, however, he has little chance of making big money for a few years. This week, his team renewed his contract for $510,000 per year, just slightly over the major league minimum. His agent took the opportunity to speak out against that, taking a shot at the team for its action. He may be underpaid, but that’s the way the league works, and all of the players work under the same system. Trout himself refused to speak badly of the team, but allowing his agent to speak the way he did was not a good thing.

3) Kansas beat Iowa State in basketball on Monday after some bad non-calls allowed them to tie the game late and take it into overtime. The Big 12 Conference later admitted to the errors, but I don’t imagine that made Iowa State feel much better.

4) The family of Brayan Villareal, a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was attacked at home in Venezuela by armed robbers who knew he was a professional baseball player.

5) Jeremy Clements, a driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, was suspended after using a racial slur during an interview at the season-opening race at Daytona.

6) Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus had to sit out of a spring training game on Thursday because of a sore arm caused by a new tattoo he had gotten. That’s a new one.

7) Rory McIlroy started round two of the Honda Classic by shooting 7-over on the first eight holes. He then walked off the course, quitting the tournament, saying he was not in a good place mentally. Later, he released a statement that said he had a tooth problem. Yeah, sure he did.

8) Brandon Barden, a defensive end for the Tennessee Titans, got a DUI after rolling his truck over in Georgia last weekend.

Good sports:

1) Domonique Foxworth, a retired NFL defensive back and the current head of the NFL Players Association, wrote a great column last week about the need to professional sports to stop being bigoted and allowing discrimination against homosexuals to be so prevalent in the locker rooms. We need more guys like him.

2) Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors had quite a week. First he scored 38 points against the Indiana Pacers while also going up against Roy Hibbert, a guy who weighs nearly 100 pounds more than him, while standing up for a teammate. He then scored 54 points against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday


Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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