Practice squad player says life in a lockout is rather different

Tom Brady may have his name on the antitrust lawsuit filed by the NFLPA*, but he’s not a great example of the typical NFL player.  There are a lot more guys like Panthers second-year defensive back R.J. Stanford.

In an interview with Peter Schrager for Esquire, Stanford described how his life has changed during the lockout.  He was on the practice squad for most of last year, then earned a few weeks of active roster pay that he tried to save.

“With my 401K contributions, all my health-benefit deductions, and my bills — I couldn’t save much last year,” Stanford said.

So without the guarantee of any income on the way, Stanford has changed his lifestyle a bit.

“The nightlife thing has completely changed. I wasn’t ever an extravagant guy, but now it’s really toned-down,” Stanford said, before describing his new meal plan.   “I’ve gone back to basics. I had to. It’s like I’m in college all over again. I’m eating Ramen noodles, Cup-a-Soups, peanut butter and jelly, and oatmeal for dinner.”

Stanford may be exaggerating about the food, but he was serious when talking about watching his money.  He says losing his $400-per-week offseason check is significant.  He scaled back his vacation plans, and decided to rent for another year instead of buy a condo in Carolina.

We want to point out Stanford wasn’t looking for sympathy; he was just answering questions.  He just wants this strange and embarrassing offseason for the NFL to get back to normal.

“I’m bored. I just want to get back to work,” he said.

46 responses to “Practice squad player says life in a lockout is rather different

  1. the “blue collar” guys like this…unlike the “white collar” (manning, brees, brady) are being hurt more than anyone else. Where else can you make this kind of money? These guys know they can only ride it out for a few years.

  2. And thank god at least he’s not being dumb with his $, like not spending it on jewelry….

  3. But…. I thought this was a war waged between the greedy millionaire players and the righteous billionaire owners who wanted to restore order to the league.

    Here’s a reality check.

    Thank GODell I didn’t buy the snake oil the league and the owners were selling. Although after reading most of the comments here on PFT, I have little doubt the owners made money hand over fist off that nostrum as well.

  4. Stanford is the kind of player that the NFLPA* doesn’t give a rip about. This whole mess is about the Bradys, Mannings, Peppers, etc., not the average player.

    If the NFLPA* gets its way, there will not be any rules concerning player employment and players like Stanford will make even less than what they make now.

  5. and then you have that dummy Dez Bryant buying $250k in jewelry and not paying for it….

  6. This guy is one of the reasons I support the idea of an 18 game season…


    1: Because with the larger rosters, all of these practice squad guys that we all pull for would be on an active roster.

    2: With an 18 game season each team could play everyone in their conference once, and everyone in their own division twice. Which would help eliminate the crappy teams that make the playoffs every year (bumping out more qualified teams) because of a weak division and/or cake schedule and/or games won due to bad officiating.

  7. so why didn’t the PA* include players like these on the antitrust lawsuit?

    oh yeah, cause if they get what they want these bubble players’ salaries will drop. and the NFLPA* acts like their fighting for little guy’s rights, including middle class america.

  8. The guy is living hand to mouth and yet not one mention of the “S” word.

    I guess you gotta earn a couple mil in the NFL first before you’re entitled to claim slavery status.

    Actually, he sounds like a righteous dude.

  9. Putting in a significant amount into your 401k isn’t that smart. Go ahead and invest the maximum on a roth IRA- but anything else is just silly.

    So where is the money really going?

  10. Maybe just maybe the other players may read this and remember there are many other people involved, in their greed for themselves and themselves only.

  11. 400 a week? Not really balled status to begin with. A bottle for the table is nearly to roughly 1 quarter of his practice squad salary. Chances are you and me live the weekend warrior life just as well as him. Let’s make it rain.

  12. Don’t know what this guy scored on his Wonderlic, but I’ll give him an honorary 50. Kudos, Mr. Stanford — really living up to your name.

  13. i know all about that…what he really needs to look at is a sack of pinto beans, a sack of rice, and also a sack of potatoes All are low price bulk products with good nutrition. He needs to stay away from the ramens, and cup o soups as they are way to loaded with sodium. Whole grain pasta would be better than the ramen noodles. “Old fasion” oatmeal is a great product.

  14. Welcome to being part of the rest of the American workforce. Hope you got a degree in something other than gym!

  15. “Scaling back” vacation? How about not going on vacation this year. Things can’t be too bad if you can afford to pay for a vacation.

  16. It will take a lot of these players to put pressure on the player reps to get back to the negotiating table. These are the players Drew Brees and Co are leaving out.

  17. Bigsude, that depends heavily on whether or not the NFL matches 401K contributions.

    If they do, he’d be a fool not to contribute up to the max of the match.

    Example: My employer matches 50% of my contributions up to 4% of my salary. So if I put in 4%, 6% total goes into my fund and I’m getting a 50% return before the market does anything at all.

    It’s essentially a free 2% raise. (And it comes out pre-tax.)

  18. I just want to say that I am a player and the league is full of guys like this. I knew a guy who spent a year on the practice squad and then got got moved up to the active roster for the last few games of the season. He had no car and was sleeping on the floor of another guys apartment. Doesn’t sound like the typical NFL player. Of course everyone in the NFL is not a millionaire. The average career is 3.5 years right below pension of course. If you are on practice squad for 1 to two of those and get one year at the minimum, you are not even close to a million dollars. But the perception not only by fans but the family of players assume players have all this money. Then come all the sharks(shady financial advisors, investment people, charities, women, family and friends.) and it is easy to say I could never do that but the fact is these guys are for the most part are kids. They have never had money before and they think they will play in the NFL forever. People that don’t earn as much money make the same mistakes that NFL players make, living beyond their means. I know everyone knows people that have extreme credit card debt or bought houses they knew they couldn’t afford that went upside down when the market crashed. Now I don’t have an excuse for some of these idiots that are making dumb comments and acting like morons. Just don’t lump me into that category. I am a college graduate in business. I am married with three kids from the same mother, have the same car that I bought after I was drafted in 2004, i have never been arrested, never been late to a meeting, I own no jewelry, own one house, have no credit card debt, my kids colleges are paid for (529s). I have worked extremely hard to get where I’m at and should not have to apologize because I make good money or because there are some bad apples ruining it for the rest of us.

  19. brownsfn says: Mar 28, 2011 8:08 PM

    and then you have that dummy Dez Bryant buying $250k in jewelry and not paying for it….

    Buying without paying? Isn’t that stealing? So let me get this straight Big Ben (not saying he’s innocent) allegedly raped someone and gets a 4 game suspension. Dez Bryant stole 200k+ from a jewelry company and he probably won’t get a suspension. Somethings not right here.

  20. @thefactor51 …

    Thank you for your post. Roughly 1700 men play in the NFL and most do their jobs without causing trouble or running around showing off their bling. But most of these commenters only focus on the handful that get arrested or make a public spectacle of themselves.

    @znorseman …

    Where did you get the idea that an 18-game season would lead to the eight men on the practice squad being moved up to the 53-man roster? The NFL’s offer for an 18-game season included the promise of increasing the 53-man roster by one man only. How generous 🙄

  21. @thefactor51: Well said. Many fans root for the stand-up guys like this. The idiots are the guys I can’t stand, even when they are a member of the team I support. I support the owners in this drama, but I wish the best for players like Stanford. As pointed out in an earlier article, if the Brady case winds up winning the legal war, it is players like Stanford that will get forsaken so the “stars” of the league can earn more money. I have been a NFL fan for decades and I do not want to see the future success of the league hampered by the “get all you can” mentality exhibited by many of your fellow players and their agents as well as some of the team owners. The owners have not acted in good faith but neither have the players and both sides should have continued negotiations/mediation rather than the onerous F-U type actions of decert/lockout. NFL players are an elite group of athletes that deserve to be justly compensated. Collectively you deserve higher standards than the NFLPA has supported. I would rather see the union look out for the hard working bubble guys instead of the guys that discredit the league and the rest of the players in it. The union should hold the idiots accountable by authorizing some no tolerance mandates. The DUIs, club fights, wife/girlfriend beatings, gun altercations, etc. give the players a bad reputation and until the rest of the honest players step up and do something, it will remain that way. I do not wish to see either side lose in court. I just want as fair a deal as possible to be reached by both sides before irreparable harm is done but it seems the lawyers and egos are actively preventing good judgment from prevailing.

  22. Dear thefactor51,

    Since you are supposedly a NFL player, could you please explain YOUR position on the owner’s offer? If in the end its simply about money, please don’t bother answering. Players have some, if not the best, benefits an employee can have, a great payscale (regardless of the injury risks involved), and more off time than most employees will see in several years worth of work. How EXACTLY is the owners’ offer the “worst deal in Sports history”?

    You see people have a difficult time understanding the Players’ position as they have never truly set out a counter offer other than Status Quo. Its been stated by several current/former players that the players know that they got a “sweetheart” deal last time. The owners’ have still offered concessions in numerous areas but the Players have offered NONE. The players would still be getting a raise in the Salary Cap with a min spending floor. But it isn’t enough, is it. Funny how 3 of the highest paid position players are the named plaintiffs. Where are the Stanford’s? How is it that 100% of the players chose to decertify the union, when the union shows a callous disregard for the low end players. So its a team sport, where one player gets $25 million a year and the low end guy makes $300K. How about trying to raise the floor for these guys instead of raising the ceiling for a select few. Or how about worrying more about post-football benefits / retirement pay since you will hopefully live several decades after retiring.

    There are many things your “Leaders” could have said or done to bring about a different viewpoint regarding the Players quest for more treasure. However, you Players elected these people. Since most of you went to college, and live/work in a Public Relations world, we normal folk are just amazed at the level of ineptitude the Players and their Leaders have shown.

    The last people you people think about is the thousands of workers, and hundreds of businesses that will feel the effects of your actions. You want billions added to the salary cap, while the Janes and Johns that work for $30K or less are struggling to figure out how to feed their families, and keep a roof over their heads if they lose their jobs because there isn’t football this season.

    You voted for the litigation route. You could vote to return to the table IF you really wanted to. But its clearly greed that motivates the players. I hope the players pay dearly for their greed.

    In the history of our country, these are dark, violent times. We are at active War in 3 countries, our housing and job markets have crashed, and our national deficit is outrageous. What the players are doing is economic terrorism in my opinion. You are holding much needed jobs at risk for even greater personal rewards than you already receive. Stop the B.S. and get a deal done!

    I am not a member of any organization affiliated in any way with the NFL. I’m a fan of the game of football in general. This situation goes far beyond the Players or the NFL… none of you seem to really get that concept.

  23. The dude has a chance to make it some day. The dude selling pop corn, drinks, pushing a broom are the ones I care about, where is there pay check? Not going to happen for them, the rich guys care less about the bottom guys, it’s dog eat dog. Bill

  24. johnnycash19 says: Mar 28, 2011 10:19 PM

    Buying without paying? Isn’t that stealing? So let me get this straight Big Ben (not saying he’s innocent) allegedly raped someone and gets a 4 game suspension. Dez Bryant stole 200k+ from a jewelry company and he probably won’t get a suspension. Somethings not right here.
    If Dez took the jewelry while his pants were sagging…only then would it be the dreaded “pattern of behavior”. 😀

    Practice squad guys and UDFAs and other players who worked their butts off to be the best are huge reasons I believe that allowing them to earn more money earlier is only fair in exchange for having a draft. In other words, severely limiting the franchise tag to one time ever per player while he’s with the same team , allowing them to be FA earlier, not scaling down the cap to adjust for any rookie pay scale so the vets who earn it make the money, etc. I wish I heard more players talking about these issues. I would think that stuff is important to them.

  25. factor51: you’re lying bro, either 51 isn’t your number or you weren’t drafted in 04. There’s nobody drafted in 04 with the 51. Yes, I looked. I wanted to see who you were. You can’t use a number in your name and it not be your real number, stop being sneaky and tell us who you are!~

  26. Well another example of how the NFL & NFLPA are screwing another group of people. The players still have no right to see what the owner’s revenue is. The owner have a right to pay players what they think they are worth and the players have a right to accept their offer or not to accept their offer. That is how the real world works. This BS of we “deserve” more is crazy. Sure they lay their body on the line when they play but let’s put it in perspective. How many times a year do they “lay their bodies on the line”? 16 – 20 times per year. Whereas our police, military, firefighters as well as many other occupations lay their bodies on the line 250+ times per year.

    This is why I believe the players and the NFLPA are more in the wrong than the NFL. I’m not saying the NFL is totally innocent but the players are so out of touch with the real world that they are putting their feet in their mouths often.

  27. axabad1967-

    -You hit the nail on the head. If the players like Stanford stood their ground and demanded negotiation and the resignation of smith and Kevin Mawae, it would get done.

  28. @thefactor51
    I appreciated the article as well as your comments and many of those posted.

    It is unfortunate that athletes get a bad reputation because of some players. I get sick of the news about the bad athletes and players being bashed (all lumped together). When people say my son got a free ride to college, I quickly add he did not. Yes, he loves football, but he worked hard to get where he was in college. He worked hard in high school too with good grades. If I had to go through the practices and bashing of my body that you football players go through, I’d ask for money that what I get paid in my non-athletic work. The discipline and determination I have seen in my son is something I believe everyone else should strive for. My son is not alone, from reading the young man’s article. I went grocery shopping with my son a month ago on a visit. I was so impressed with his generic and price conscious shopping. He lives humbly, he is educated, he is intelligent, and he does appreciate those who help make his choice of career possible. I thank God he had a college coach that emphasizes thanking the people who clean the stadium, who wash the towels, who do all of the background work to make the games run smoothly. In addition, the team did so much community work and volunteer many hours on off season (though there really is no off season – just no games). All those behaviors were learned at home first.

  29. canjura says: Mar 29, 2011 4:14 AM

    factor51: you’re lying bro, either 51 isn’t your number or you weren’t drafted in 04. There’s nobody drafted in 04 with the 51. Yes, I looked. I wanted to see who you were. You can’t use a number in your name and it not be your real number, stop being sneaky and tell us who you are!~

    ***actually Jonathan Vilma was drafted in 2004, and his number is 51***

  30. axabad1967 says: Mar 29, 2011 12:17 AM

    “Dear thefactor51,
    Since you are supposedly a NFL player, could you please explain YOUR position on the owner’s offer? …. How EXACTLY is the owners’ offer the “worst deal in Sports history”?”

    First you ask him for his opinion.
    Then you ask him to explain comments he didn’t make?

    Gotta love these pro-owners plants.

  31. @canjura …

    What makes you think 51 is his player number? 🙄

    @axabad1967 …

    First you ask the man to explain his position, then you rudely say you don’t want to hear it and rattle on for umpteen paragraphs telling him his position and why it’s wrong. Why don’t you let the man speak for himself?

    I’ll tell you a couple of things wrong with that proposal. For one, it included a rookie salary cap that didn’t stop with rookies but included contractual restrictions that limited salaries for veterans well into their prime earning years. For another, it did not even address the revenues that had been in contention. The owners themselves said after it was too late that they never intended that to be the final offer; they meant it to be a starting point and thought that was understood. You don’t make assumptions about what people will “understand” in sensitive business negotiations.

    That proposal went backward from what the owners had verbally promised the players, so the players believed they were not acting in good faith and decertified so they’d have a way to block the lockout they believed the owners were planning at midnight. After all, from the get-go the owners had hired a lockout specialist–Bob Batterman–to lead their team of lawyers and had tried to make arrangements to improperly funnel money into a lockout fund. Why should the players have believed they were planning to do anything else after seeing that disingenous proposal?

  32. @canjura I am a player and no I don’t have to state my name. 51 was my high school number and the number of my favorite player as a kid. None of the fans on here give out their name because they don’t want to stand behind the ignorance that they spit out. I was drafted in 04 and i still play but I don’t need you are anyone else to bash my team or me or try to use my salary against me.

    My stance is that it is stupid that we are going through this. Like I said in my previous post I have worked extremely hard to get to this point and why would I want to jeopardize that when I am in the prime of my career. I am going into year 8 I don’t know how many I have left. Every year you play is a blessing. I am grateful for every dollar that I have recieved. I don’t want more money, I want what I signed in my contract and no more. We signed decertification papers at the beginning of the year after a 45 minute meeting with D. smith. This is long before the so called negotiations began. We did this because that gave us our only levarage against the league if they were to offer us a terrible deal and tried to lock us out. The league purposely gave us an offer right before the deadline for us to decertify. If we didnot decertify we could not have decertified for six months and by then all our leverage would be gone. I did not think the deal was the worst in sports history but there were still some things to be ironed out. A counter offer could have been made had the nfl gave us the offer with more time to negotiate. I did not know things were going to go this way. I had to believe that these were smart men that were going to find a way to get a deal done. I guess I was wrong.

  33. 3octaveFart

    Yes, I asked him his opinion and Yes, I do expect that he should be able to explain what his leader is saying about things. He should be informed and up to date on things said/done by his leader. If not, then maybe he should get a new/better leader! Funny you should assume I’m anything but a fan who is torqued by the labor situation. So maybe you are the pro-union plant? Hmm…


    You have been shilling for the players for quite awhile now. I could have been quite abit more direct in my criticism of the Players and thefactor51, as he is one of them. Its his responsibility to get a deal done as much as its D. Smith. So yes, I hold him accountable for the situation. It is shared among all involved, this includes the owners.
    Anyone who has done even the simplest negotiations knows you don’t give unless you get in order for things to be fair. What are the Players willing to give? So far… Nothing! Even though the owners offered alot, even if what they wanted was out of line, the Players could have stayed to negotiate… even without a deal in place.


    Finally, someone on the player’s side who sounds somewhat reasonable about their level of expectations. I hope you do get a good CBA and a great individual contract as I understand it could be your last great contract. But not necessarily your last overall. Seems the Owners are playing hardball, just as it seems the Players are. I don’t like some of things the Owners do. But the scale was out of balance in the Players favor in the last CBA, and everyone knows it.

    Why can’t the Players look at the past CBA as being good for what it was, rather than trying to beat it in dollar figures? Why not try to get pensions down to 3 years of service? Take the improvements to the off-season workouts. There are a number of improvements offered that can be included in the next CBA.

    My fear is that the Players will win the Lawsuits, including about the Draft. If this happens, there may not be a legal way for the NFL to operate. Suppose this happens and the only way for the NFL to continue would be for the owners to combine their individual interests into the NFL as a single entity… this could make things worse for the players! At what point is winning all of the small disagreements more important than keeping this entertainment/money machine rolling? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side….

  34. @thefactor51: I appreciate your candor and viewpoint. It is a shame that egos on both sides are out of hand. Do you think DeMaurice Smith has the players’ interests (all players, not just the top 10% that make the money) at heart?

  35. @axabad1967 …

    Thank you for suggesting that I’m shilling for the players. However, I am a fan just like you, and know well the history of how players have been treated in the NFL. While I realize both sides will have to come together to reach an agreement, my sympathies are with the players simply because I believe they are right. I remember the work stoppages of 1982 and 1987, and the last thing I want is to see another NFL season disrupted by a labor dispute. However, I’m intelligent enough to realize that players such as thefactor51 will suffer far more than we will if the lockout continues into the season. He doesn’t owe me–or you–anything.

    I share your concerns about how these court cases might change how we enjoy the game–just as free agency has changed the game. But again, this is about their lives and livelihood. I love the draft. But if it’s in their best interest to change from a draft to a different system, then we’ll learn to live with it just as we learned to live with free agency. Our need to watch the draft does not outweigh their need to control their own destinies. And the owners knew well what was at stake when they dilly-dallied through months of negotiations while they planned their lockout fund.

    As for the wonderful proposal the players turned down. You don’t know anything about that proposal except that Roger Goodell and some other owners have said it was a good deal. That proposal had many problems. As thefactor51 posted, they could have worked on those issues if the owners hadn’t played patty-cake for a week and brought it to them at the ninth hour. The owners were calling the players’ bluff on decertification. The problem is they weren’t bluffing.

    I’m sorry you don’t get that. I’m sorry you don’t want to believe that. I’m sorry you don’t understand the flaws in the proposal. But that’s the way it went down.

    The players have repeatedly offered to continue negotiations while waiting for the hearing on the injunction. The owners obviously don’t want to do that. So here we sit.

  36. Oh, Deb thank you for proving my point about you and your posts!!!

    You act as if you were in on the negotiations yourself… BUT you were not!! LOL I never expected the Players to just say “OK”. But they are DEMANDING more than Any employee should because they are not PARTNERS. They are temporary employees.

    The way it seems, the Players got it wrong… The Owners were not bluffing about a lockout. The Players are already in trouble with the Lockout Fund being tapped so soon.

    Yeah, I’ve been around long enough to see both the 1982 and the 1987 labor situations. Just because it worked out in the Players’ favor last time, doesn’t mean it will this time. For that matter, I firmly believe EVERYONE will lose this time.

    A sports league is a unique entity… done right, every team and every fan can look forward to the next season for a championship… done wrong, you get MLB where few teams have a real shot and even fewer players get the really good contracts. If the NFL goes that way, they won’t have to worry about splitting $9 billion…

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