Gonzalez shouldn't expect much sympathy from fans

August 31, 2011
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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.

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.