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Rodgers, Stafford, Brady among world’s highest-paid athletes

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady were the three highest-paid players on American sports teams in the last year.

That’s the word from ESPN’s survey of worldwide sports salaries, which found that Rodgers, Stafford and Brady were three of only seven professional athletes in the world who made at least $31 million last year.

There are some caveats. The survey covered only athletes’ salaries and prize money, and not endorsements. And one year of income isn’t necessarily the best method to measure an athlete’s earning power. There are NBA and Major League Baseball players who average more money than Rodgers, Stafford and Brady over the length of their contracts, just none who made as much as those three quarterbacks last year. The ESPN methodology also may have counted players’ signing bonuses as having been received at the time a new contract was signed, even if in reality the contract is structured so that the player has to wait to receive some of his bonus money.

By ESPN’s methodology, the highest-paid athlete in the world was boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., at $73.5 million. Second and third were soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at $50.2 million and $50.1 million. Next was Rodgers, who made $40 million in 2013, the year he signed a new five-year, $110 million contract.

Next was Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović at $35 million, followed by Stafford at $31.5 million and Brady at $31 million. Five other NFL players made the list of the Top 20 highest-paid athletes in the world: Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco at $30 million, Tony Romo at $26.5 million, Calvin Johnson (the NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback) at $25 million and Peyton Manning at $25 million. Of the 19 athletes in the world with incomes of $25 million or more, eight were in the NFL.

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58 Responses to “Rodgers, Stafford, Brady among world’s highest-paid athletes”
  1. deltaoracle says: Apr 15, 2014 3:40 PM

    One of the three has yet to show that he’s worth it.

  2. golforepar says: Apr 15, 2014 3:41 PM

    Rodgers, Brady and Manning deserve to be high on the list. Stafford, not so much!

  3. thevikesarebest says: Apr 15, 2014 3:42 PM

    That’s cute,shaaron Rodgers,Matt interception machine and spygate boy will all suffer hard loses to the Minnesota vikings next season.the rest of the nfl has been warned.SKOL

  4. chargerdillon says: Apr 15, 2014 3:42 PM

    Two of them are Superbowl champions and the other…..well he plays for the Lions.

  5. joshm5683 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:43 PM

    This isn’t quite accurate. It even says in the list it does not include endorsements. If you add endorsements into the mix it changes the list by a lot

  6. ravensfaninflorida says: Apr 15, 2014 3:44 PM

    And now you know why I won’t go to a game and support this kinda of thing. Love football. Love the Ravens but I will not pay for these ridiculous salaries. I’ll stay at home and watch it on TV. Sorry but no athlete is worth this much money. If you wanna pay someone, pay our military men and women. They are the true hero’s !!!!

  7. duece5 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:44 PM

    Meanwhile, Erin may like the contract, but his shoulder, not so much!!!!

  8. tvjules says: Apr 15, 2014 3:45 PM

    Sorry–I’m still laughing at the last paragraph…
    Flacco, Romo, and Matt Ryan made the Top 20!

  9. snap0179 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:45 PM

    Per interception Stafford is the world’s highest!

  10. joeflaccoallday says: Apr 15, 2014 3:45 PM

    Tim Tebow > Tom ‘Choking Since 0’4’ Brady.

  11. theclink12 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:46 PM

    The fact that Stafford is on this list proves why Detroit still sucks.

  12. n0hopeleft says: Apr 15, 2014 3:46 PM

    None of which can beat Eli Manning when it matters….

  13. somethingsmellsrotten says: Apr 15, 2014 3:48 PM

    Soccer? Really?

  14. rickastleydancemoves says: Apr 15, 2014 3:48 PM

    Stafford should be making alot less given his team has zero playoff victories. Just because you have a “howitzer cannon” for an arm and Megatron does not make you a top tier quarterback to be tying so much of your team’s cap up.

  15. raiderej says: Apr 15, 2014 3:48 PM

    Get it while you can with a career lifespan on average of only 3.6 years, NFL players should all try to get the max contract ASAP.

  16. mzew233 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:49 PM

    Brady is the only one who’s wife makes more than him.
    And wears a hat, that is about himself. Such a powerful person and doing things only he could pull off.

  17. patsbrat says: Apr 15, 2014 3:50 PM

    …and Giselle still makes more than Tom.

  18. rc33 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:50 PM

    Stafford being on that list is just absurd.

  19. mianfr says: Apr 15, 2014 3:50 PM

    Yeah, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s salary is after taxes. I bet he made way more than Aaron Rodgers (and a number of others) last year.

  20. golforepar says: Apr 15, 2014 3:50 PM

    Give the Vikings credit, they don’t waste any money on QBs!

  21. grimreaper12 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:54 PM

    Amazing that Flacco is on the list considering he throws more interceptions than touchdowns. Thanks Ozzie for ruining the market. No every average Joe will get a 100 million dollar contract.

  22. shogunassasin30 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:55 PM

    Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in football, in my mind. He deserves it. Tom freaking Brady def deserves it. Matthew Stafford though?? How does that goofy looking interception machine make that list? Disgusting

  23. nite2al says: Apr 15, 2014 3:56 PM

    You guys are clueless, these salaries are not ridiculous considering the NFL brings in billions.

    Great actors get 20 million plus a movie and they are not risking their life or health.

    Please put things in perspective, and as a Raven’s fan, I was so glad to Joe get his money!

  24. jacobmcbride1 says: Apr 15, 2014 3:56 PM

    Funny thing is Detroit didn’t have a choice but to give Stafford one of the biggest contracts ever, the old rookie wage scale put them way over the cap with their high draft picks so they had to backload a bunch of contracts, then those backloaded contracts came up, so they had to try to push the bonuses farther down the road because they had no way to get under the cap.

  25. nysportsrule says: Apr 15, 2014 4:01 PM

    Doesn’t Clayton Kershaw make like $30 million? I may be wrong but I think it was pretty high.

  26. mjhutmkr says: Apr 15, 2014 4:02 PM


    All they do is throw a football.

    They don’t heal the sick, do medical research, teach or have cured cancer.

  27. trollaikman8 says: Apr 15, 2014 4:02 PM

    In his defense, Ibrahimović is a better QB than Matt Ryan.

  28. Youknowimright says: Apr 15, 2014 4:03 PM

    You have people working on the cure for cancer. People protecting our homes in and out of country. People teaching our youth of tomorrow who will never come close to theses salaries in a lifetime. Yet we pay guys who can read a cover 2 defense and throw 15 yard outs on a line 30 million. Then we wonder why our society is so messed up.

  29. Celebrity Man Guy says: Apr 15, 2014 4:04 PM

    You’d think a guy making that much money would be able to overcome a sore neck and play a few games.

  30. ampatsisahypocrite says: Apr 15, 2014 4:06 PM

    Joe Flacco on the same high-paid list with guys like Messi? LOL!!!! It’s truly a sign the universe is imploding…

  31. raider8er says: Apr 15, 2014 4:08 PM

    “One of these QBs is not like the other.
    One of these QBs just doesn’t belong,

    Can you tell which QB is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?”

  32. rrthomasxyz says: Apr 15, 2014 4:11 PM

    NFL salaries are a zero-sum game. You give a QB $20-30m/year and you diminish your chances of team success. The Seahawks will win SB49 because of the relative equity in their salary structure. The low salaries for Wilson and Sherman allow other starters, special teams, etc. to make more money.
    Schneider will initially offer Wilson $16m/yr without batting an eye, he will fight hard for $18m/yr but won’t go higher than $20m/yr. Both the Packers and the Patriots suffer because of the QB salaries. True the market place should dictate salaries, but “team” still counts for something. Carroll has never considered the QB as a position as important as dominant linemen and shifty, athletic running backs. I hope Wilson doesn’t test this premise.

  33. mljohns says: Apr 15, 2014 4:13 PM

    These salaries are driven by the market in which they ply their trade. I’m not mad at them for taking what someone is willing to pay them. What are they supposed to say? “Thank you, but I don’t want the $100 million dollar contract.” Yes, in a perfect world, teachers and the military would deserve these salaries, but in the real world who among us would be willing to pay the taxes necessary to give it to them?

  34. grandpoopah says: Apr 15, 2014 4:14 PM

    Which of these doesn’t fit?

  35. bullcharger says: Apr 15, 2014 4:16 PM

    Stafford is really not worth the money. If you put Brady or Rodgers on that team in the last 5 years they would have done waaaaaay more. Stafford is 24-38 (0.387) as starter. There are many mediocre/poor QBs that have better records then that (Trent Edwards, Matt Cassel, Jason Cambell), and you can’t say he’s had a bad team. The best receiver in the league, at times the best dline. It’s sad.

  36. cornerstone2001 says: Apr 15, 2014 4:21 PM

    Then Joe Montana shoulda got $90 Kajillion per year

  37. bradygirl12 says: Apr 15, 2014 4:27 PM

    How do you lump Matthew Stafford in with Rodgers and Brady??? Stafford is okay,but where’s the rings? I don’t think he’s earned his money…yet.

  38. geniusesq says: Apr 15, 2014 4:32 PM

    Joe Flacco thinks Matthew Stafford gets too much money

  39. tedmurph says: Apr 15, 2014 4:33 PM

    So, if I have this right, The Lions have 2 of the top 19 highest paid players in America, have had 5 picks in the top 5, including 3 in the top 2 since CJohnson came into the league in 2007 and have played in one playoff gm this century. Which they lost. They’ve also had 6 HC’s since 2001. Think they’re doing something wrong up there.

  40. justintuckrule says: Apr 15, 2014 4:53 PM

    Dumb to count all of the guaranteed money and signing bonus in one year if it’s not due in 2013.

  41. realfootballfan says: Apr 15, 2014 4:54 PM

    Rodgers, Stafford, Brady. Let’s play which one of these does not belong.

  42. beerndrums says: Apr 15, 2014 4:56 PM

    And Brady was the only one caught cheating

  43. bullcharger says: Apr 15, 2014 4:58 PM

    Messi made enough money in one year to draw $50,000 per year (the US median annual household income) for 1000 years.

    At a miniscule 1% interest, he would earn $500,000 per year.

    The top 25 athletes alone made 825 million dollars in one year. That is enough money to pay 16,000 people each $50,000 and still leave the 25 athletes with 1 million dollars each for the year.


  44. geniusesq says: Apr 15, 2014 4:58 PM

    Yes, but do they have their own logo?

  45. ravenswhat says: Apr 15, 2014 6:25 PM

    Stafford made 31.5 mill and all people can talk about is Flacco being overpaid?? Really???

  46. filthymcnastyi says: Apr 15, 2014 6:42 PM

    Does anyone really think our Packers will be anything other than bottom feeders in the North this year? I mean, honestly our window is about closed!

  47. geniusesq says: Apr 15, 2014 6:51 PM

    Matthew Stafford is almost as overpaid as Roger Goodell. No disrespect to Stafford, more power to him. But, he’s not in the same league as the guys he’s getting paid like. And, they don’t have cyborg to throw to either.

  48. sociosquatch says: Apr 15, 2014 6:54 PM

    stafford bwahaha!

  49. sophandros says: Apr 15, 2014 7:05 PM

    Drew Brees demands an explanation.

  50. GenXJay says: Apr 15, 2014 7:07 PM

    people that say only Brady’s ol’ lady makes more than him are wrong.
    Rodgers ol’ lady, Ryan Braun, makes more than ShAaron.

  51. universalchurchoftruth says: Apr 15, 2014 7:24 PM

    If Stafford did not where his hat backwards people would not have a problem with him making so much money. 😛

  52. NakedCowboy! says: Apr 15, 2014 7:26 PM

    Rodgers, stafford, romo and brady are only there coz they got huge bonus as part of their contract that year… avg top tier QB salary is 20 mil per year which almost all of these guys are getting…
    soccer players have flat salary…. no bonus… those guys are getting paid good too!

  53. universalchurchoftruth says: Apr 15, 2014 7:37 PM

    If Stafford did not _wear_ his hat backwards people would not have a problem with him making so much money. 😛

  54. britishraven says: Apr 15, 2014 7:38 PM

    There are signing on bonuses in football (soccer) but contracts are actually contracts in Europe. If you sign for £100k a week for 5 years, that’s what you get and you can’t be cut.

    Seeing Stafford on the same list as Messi/Ronaldo is just ridiculous

  55. johnnyprc says: Apr 15, 2014 7:57 PM

    Why would Lions pay Stafford that kind of money???…. frankly speaking, a great many of QBs would look very good throwing to C.Johnson. Dare I say Tim Tebow might have a job in the NFL if he was to throw to CJ every week.

  56. TheWizard says: Apr 15, 2014 8:58 PM

    Matt Cassel won more games in 08 than Stafford ever has in a season.

    An interesting factoid.

  57. granadafan says: Apr 15, 2014 8:59 PM

    To the guy who said “Soccer? Really?”, that’s just shear ignorance and being obtuse. Soccer is the most popular sport in the vast majority of countries around the world. It is possible to appreciate and be a fan of both soccer and American football without the ignorant snide remarks.

  58. fishyinalittledishy says: Apr 15, 2014 9:00 PM

    We all know doctors and nurses deserve more money, this always gets brought up when talking about sport salaries etc. But there are thousands of people capable of being doctors and only a handful capable of throwing a ball or hitting a ball to the level these guys do. Comparing football with soccer salaries is a bit unfair as soccer is a true globle game and if you got down to the finer points Messi and Ronaldo would blow football players away. There is no restructuring contracts for the big boys of soccer only extensions, guaranteed money all the way that only goes up and is not diluted once the big bucks kick in.

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