Gonzalez shouldn't expect much sympathy from fans

August 31, 2011
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

For those who complain every time an NFL player holds out for a new contract, I present to you Exhibit A: Anthony Gonzalez.

The Ohio State graduate is due $1.11 million this year from the Indianapolis Colts, but is in serious jeopardy of getting cut as the team trims its roster from 80 to 53. The injury-prone Gonzalez is nursing a hamstring injury this year.

And Gonzalez’s paycheck if he’s cut?


But wait. Colts owner Jim Irsay and team President Bill Polian pledged to pay Gonzalez that money. After all, he has a contract. They signed it.

Oh well. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed contract in the NFL.

I’m not asking you to cry for Gonzalez. If he’s been smart with his money, he’s probably made enough in his first four years with the Colts to weather this storm—should there be one—just fine.

But the reality is, if you get hurt or don’t live up to expectations in the NFL, you get cut and you don’t get paid. In many ways it’s no different for you and me. Minus the six- and seven-digit paychecks.

But if this system is going to put players and management on anything resembling a level playing field, the reverse paradigm to Gonzalez’s situation must hold true, as well.

When a player like Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson holds out for a big payday, the player is often seen as greedy. How many times have we heard, “He has a contract. He signed a contract. He should honor the contract?”

Why should he? Management only honors its contracts with players when it suits them.

The shelf life of professional football players is extremely short. For every Peyton Manning or Brett Favre there are dozens and dozens of guys like Gonzalez—or worse. The average career in the NFL is 3.4 years.

So it stands to reason that if a player can get cut simply for being hurt or underperforming expectations, then a player who over-performs or outplays their contract should be entitled to a renegotiated deal with higher pay.

The part where an employee doesn’t show up for work until he gets a giant raise, that’s not the way most of us are used to working. So it can be a little difficult to swallow sometimes.

But Indiana is an at-will state, where you can be fired for just about any reason. You wouldn’t think it would be all that difficult for people to identify with these players. But more often you here them siding with management.

Go team!


  • Contract
    Unless a contract grants either party the right to hold out, then it is wrong for a player to hold out for a new contract. I've never read an NFL contract, but I assume the contract specifically grants the team the right to cut a player for x, y, or z reasons. Consequently, the team has done nothing wrong if it cuts a player for x, y, or z reason.

    Players are contractors just like millions of other self-employed contractors, owner- operators, small business owners etc. They must abide by the contracts they signed or face the consequences. I wish the all professional sports players would stop being treated like prima donnas. They can and will be replaced.
  • Yeah, But...
    The employment relationship in the NFL is not the same as private industry. You do not get to pick who you play for until you gain free agency status, for example. Even then you might have restricted status.
  • Agreed
    To "Employer" - how is it "it is wrong for a player to hold out for a new contract"? Do you mean morally wrong? Contract law does not deal in terms of right & wrong - only if one party has been damaged or not. This is determined by pure monetary damages.

    I agree with Schoettle. At-will goes both ways. If a team wants to cut a player, they can and do. If a player doesn't want to play, they should be able to exercise that right. There may be some financial penalty for that, but it is not "wrong" anymore that it would be "wrong" for you to refuse to work or perform a job.

    "Players are contractors just like millions of other self-employed contractors" -- agreed, so why must they be treated any differently? Any one of those millions can refuse to work, even if there is a contract saying they should.
  • Good job Anthony
    I completely agree with you...I just don't get people (Employer) who keep trying to liken pro sports to their business. It is nothing like real business, it is entertainment, it is fantasy, and the owners bring almost no football acumen to the table, they just have a fat wallet (remember when Irsay used to be involved in player personnel? and how great the Redskins have been with Dan Snyder just throwing money at things...and the Cowboys are so good now that Jerry Jones is the final authority on everything). I don't see anything wrong at all with a player holding out, especially if the owner can cut him at will. The owner won't pay him anymore than he absolutely has to...whatever the player has to do to get what he thinks he is worth is fine...and if the owner doesn't want to pay him then let him sit. It is not hard, and "employer" is the one who is wrong...everyone involved here still has a choice and free will...nothing wrong with that, as long as you accept whatever comes with the territory.

Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...