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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

Welcome to The Score, your place for hard-hitting sports business news, fast-breaking updates and fuel-injected debate.  Buckle up.  I'm your host, Anthony Schoettle, IBJ sports reporter.

Sports Business

Dry your eyes Colts fans, Bob Sanders will be fine

September 15, 2010
KEYWORDS Sports Business

If you’re crying for Bob Sanders this morning, feel free to wipe your tears. It is a crying shame for the Colts and Colts fans that they won’t have The Eraser to count on and cheer for—again this year.

Maybe the Horseshoe is better with him, though with the emergence of Melvin Bullitt and the team’s run last year, that’s increasingly difficult to argue.

And I’m sure Sanders himself is extremely disappointed he won’t be able to play—likely this year, and maybe forever—a game he loves.

But suggesting that poor old Bob Sanders is having his feet cut out from under him financially is ridiculous. Bringing up the notion that the NFL stands for Nor For Long, meaning careers are cut short while fans pick up and cheer another player, well, cry me a river.

First it should be noted, that Sanders got a rare offer of a free college education. But forget that for a moment. It was suggested today that if Sanders is careful with his money, he might be OK. Really?

If Colts fans and followers want to be concerned about Sanders' physical health, fine. That's a legitimate concern. But his financial health? Let me allay your fears. Unless he's a drug addict or a complete fool, and there's absolutely no indication that he's either, then he'll be just fine.

Let’s take a look at just the guarantees from his current contract: $20 million. Now I’m no math major, but even I can figure out that it would take a police officer, fire fighter or school teacher making $60,000 annually 333.33 years to make that sort of loot. Even a mid-level executive making $120,000 yearly would need to work more than a lifetime to catch-up to what Sanders knocked down in guarantees from the contract he signed three years ago. Forget about the pocket change he knocked down with his rookie contract. Yes, those are big pockets.

Yes, I’m aware that the big, bad tax man comes along and takes a lot of Sanders’ hard-won cash. I’m not a tax attorney, but my estimates show he should still have at least $14 million to pocket from his current contract after Uncle Sam takes his cut. That’s just his current contract.

Guys who wash out of the league in their first four years might have some kind of justification to cry about their financial plight,  because few rookies (except first rounders) are getting much in terms of guarantees. But consider that the lowest paid NFL rookie this year is making around $300,000. Even practice squad players make six-figures. The average wage for a U.S. college graduate these days: $36,000. I’d say the guys landing on NFL rosters, even for a year or two, are getting a nice head start in life. And no student loans to worry about to boot.

As far as Sanders having career opportunities after his playing days are done, well, I’m pretty sure plenty of people will pick up the phone when the 29-year-old gives them a jingle. Playing in the NFL has a way of filling your Rolodex pretty quickly with powerful people’s business cards.

Maybe fans don’t take much time to consider the injury potential NFL players take each Sunday. That’s probably because they’re too busy considering the 45 or so years they’ll be spending in the tin pan themselves.
 

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