Richard Sherman says that ugly strike word. Will others listen?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 12: NFL player Richard Sherman attends The 2017 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 12: NFL player Richard Sherman attends The 2017 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images) /

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman opened some eyes when he said players have to be willing to strike. Will other players listen?

Richard Sherman is certainly no stranger to controversy. Sometimes he’s talking about mediocre wide receivers:

He may even call out his own coaching staff. Regardless, Richard Sherman makes news virtually every time he opens his mouth. Bright, articulate people tend to do that.

And he’s at it again. In an interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose, Sherman was asked about the size of NBA contracts compared to NFL contracts. Rose added what Sherman thought about a player strike. Sherman didn’t shy away from the topic. Come on, he’s Richard Sherman.

Richard Sherman lays it out on strikes and contracts

"“If we want as the NFL, as a union, to get anything done, players have to be willing to strike. That’s the thing that guys need to 100 percent realize.You’re going to have to miss games, you’re going to have to lose some money if you’re willing to make the point, because that’s how MLB and NBA got it done. They missed games, they struck, they flexed every bit of power they had, and it was awesome. It worked out for them.”"

Speaking of contracts in general, Sherman had this to say:

"“I think guys need to re-evaluate how they look at contracts and how they look at longevity and things of that nature. NBA players like KD and LeBron are sitting there taking two-year deals like it’s nothing. They figure, ‘I’ll take a two-year deal because I’m going to wait for the salary cap to increase and get another bite at the apple.’ In our sport, they won’t do it.”"

In case you were wondering, the NFL Players Association reacted as you’d expect:

After all, Sherman is the Seahawks player rep. You’d expect the union to support him.

More from 12th Man Rising

Yes, there’s a lot of money out there. But is it equal from one league to another?

Yes, I’m well aware NFL players are millionaires and multi-millionaires. On the other hand, they are paid far less than their counterparts in the NBA. Let’s look at those issues separately.

The NBA has 30 teams with a maximum of 15 players each. 450 players divide their share of the cash, about 50% of the NBA’s reported $8 billion in revenue. The average NBA salary is just over $7 million per year. Note that the median salary is $3.4 million. For the math-challenged, that basically throws out the James Harden level mega-buck contracts and gives a better picture of what the typical NBA player earns. Okay, fine. The median is the number where half the numbers in the whole range are higher, and half are lower. Class over.

The NFL has 32 teams with 53 players each, plus up to 10 players on the practice squad. Those players share 47% of the NFL’s whopping $14 billion in revenue. The average NFL salary is $1.9 million. The median salary is $770,000. Again, toss out the Derek Carr contracts for the median, and you get a truer sense of what the average NFL player makes.

The NFL simply has more players to pay, four times as many. Unless their revenue grows to four times the NBA’s, NFL players won’t ever match NBA players.

So is Sherman right about a strike?

Back to that complaint many fans make. “They’re millionaires already, how greedy can they get?” My response is, “I don’t know, how greedy can the owners get?”

In case you’ve somehow missed it, NFL owners don’t exactly spend a lot building their stadiums. This is a great topic on it’s own, of course. Briefly, over the past 20 years taxpayers have forked over $7 billion dollars to get NFL teams or keep them. Because the poor NFL owners can’t do it all themselves. After all, only 19 of them are billionaires. And the league just doesn’t make money at all. Other than the previously mentioned $14 billion.

The main issue here goes beyond the average salary, of course. It’s about the guaranteed contracts. As Sherman said, having the biggest contract that can “pop like a balloon” doesn’t mean much. Trust me, I’m not a fan of sports strikes at all. However, I’m even less of a fan of owners asking taxpayers for money, then putting players through the meat grinder of the NFL without adequate income protection. The NBA, MLB and NHL all have guaranteed contracts. The NFL doesn’t.

NFL players face the same dilemma as everyone else in the world that works for a living. The person that writes the check has more power than the person who cashes it. That’s true no matter how much you’re making. That just might be worth a strike.