Former player thinks current players worry too much about money

Memorial Day primarily gives us an annual occasion to remember the critically important contributions of those who served in the military.  But it’s also a good day to generally recall the past, and 86-year-old former NFL player Sherman Howard has shared with the Chicago Tribune recollections of a day when football players weren’t so focused on money.

They are not receptive to the older fellows,” Howard said of today’s players.  “They think finances is the main thing.  The first thing they say is: ‘How much did you make?’  Well, that’s not the point.”

Howard, one of the first African-American pro football players, said that, when he and his peers had an opportunity to meet well-known athletes of the past, they sought their advice on matters other than their income.  “I don’t think we ever asked Paul Robeson how much he made; we didn’t ask Jesse Owens how much he made,” Howard said.

That said, in the days when Howard played (1949 through 1953, with the New York Yanks and the Cleveland Browns), the league was a much smaller business, with much lower exposure.  (Especially since there we few if any televisions.)  Everyone was making far less money, in real dollars and in comparison to the rest of the workforce.

Today’s athletes are a direct product of the fame and financial success that comes from playing at the highest levels of a given sport.  Today’s owners also benefit greatly from the rise of the game.

Maybe that’s the real lesson to be learned from Sherman Howard.  The dramatic increase in the profile and profitability of pro football hardly is guaranteed.  If today’s stewards of the game screw around with the sport enough, they’ll all return to the days when money wasn’t the main attraction.

20 responses to “Former player thinks current players worry too much about money

  1. Surly I read the comments by Howard wrong. The players are always saying they play for the love of the game and winning championships. WOW when did that all change?

  2. My peewee league team plays for the game. Yes, they get “paid” by the tee shirts I supply them and for bragging rights if they win.
    I would wager that 2/3 of todays players would continue to play for a paltry percentage of the money they currently make. The problem I see is the same as infects much of society; the “entitled” syndrome. I DESERVE…..because I am alive, and my mother gave me birth.
    I see it more prevalent in the parents than I do in my boys. I have parents who come to me and demand that their son starts (generally at qb) because he has earned that right by participating, and the second argument is “Do you KNOW who I am?”
    just saying

  3. Current NFL players to Sherman Howard:

    “Shut up, old man”

    Guys in Howard’s time were happy just to have a job playing football.

  4. Many players these days use their contract as a measuring stick for their male appendage.

  5. this is a crap story….
    THey all worried about money when they played…Everbody is looking for a handout…conveniently fits in with this story.
    Retired players looking for a handout, tell current players they are too worried about money. SERIOUSLY!

  6. Too many people here blame the NFL players salaries for the rise in their ticket prices. Ticket prices were going up drastically during the 80’s when there was no free agency.

    Ticket prices will continue to be incredibly high as long as fools keep paying these stupid prices. If you want prices to go down- stop going, and hope your neighbor stops going.

    But as long as there is tons of cash on the table- i dont understand what is wrong with the players taking half. They are the only reason i watch the games. With fantasy football- my main concern isnt even the teams anymore. I am watching players.

    If the players were smart- they would continue the anti-trust until the NFL is truly free market- let the players go where they like. Then there will be little money in it for owners looking to get rich and the NFL will become like the america’s cup- where having a team is more of a rich man’s hobby rather than a business- THAT would be fun to watch.

  7. richm2256 says:
    May 30, 2011 11:26 AM
    Current NFL players to Sherman Howard:
    “Shut up, old man”
    Guys in Howard’s time were happy just to have a job playing football.

    ^ ————–
    Months later and I still don’t know what’s worse, the 3 or so actual nfl players with fake accounts being totally disrespectful to Kurt Warner/ShermanHoward/etc, or the 30 or so brainwashed Conservative Obama Haters here.

  8. axespray says: May 30, 2011 12:22 PM

    the 30 or so brainwashed Conservative Obama Haters here.

    I’m sorry please explain to me how this country has become better since he was voted in? Because maybe I am blind or just don’t drink the same Kool-aid as you do. wooo you guys made history by voting him in but guess what it was the wrong choice cause not a single damn good thing has come from it. (ok with the exception of ordering the operation to get Osama)

    As for Howards comments, it’s about time someone else stood up. These damn Greedy players and owners really need to look at yesterdays Indy 500 and Coca Cola 600 finishes as to who they could be playing second fiddle to should their petty labor argument not come to a quick conclusion

  9. As I said before I am not a current or former player. PFT has my e-mail address and its my name, they know. I am pro-player but if you notice when the ones that make mistakes I get on them as hard as anyone. I think players are the product and without them….no game. If you say the owners can replace them, yes they can…but then you will have the UFL. Ex. Players always think “their” era was pure and they played for the love of the game. Not true and Kurt Warner doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds him and Brenda’s mullet.

  10. Sorry Duane, the players come and the players go, that’s the only fact that matters. Real,hard core fans in the NFL are fans of their teams, not the players. Did the tens of thousands of people on the season ticket waiting list in Green Bay drop off the list just because Brett Favre left town? No.

    The NFL players are very talented in a very limited and specific way. Without the NFL, their talents are worth next to nothing, so it is the NFL that matters, not the players.

    There are far more players wanting a chance in the NFL than their are open spots in the NFL at every single position other than QB. The league could start all over with replacement players, never allow a single current player back into the game, and in a couple of seasons, nobody would know the difference.

  11. We love capitalism in America. Until it doesn’t work out for us, and then we trash it.


    We haven’t had Capitalism in the USA in a LONG time. What we currently have is Corporatism.

  12. @ duanethomas

    So, when the current crop of players are gone, possibly before the litigations sequence runs its course, you will no longer be a fan of any of the teams left? Does your allegiance currently follow players around the league and focus on no team at all?

  13. @Mick730 “The league could start all over with replacement players, never allow a single current player back into the game, and in a couple of seasons, nobody would know the difference.”

    True, except those of us on keeper leagues 🙂

    Player Resume Service

  14. @ duane thomas. The product would indeed suffer for a short period of time but you can believe it would not be for very long! Three seasons , tops and the talent would be right back where it was. THE GAME IS BIGGER THAN THE PLAYERS! always was, always will be.

  15. Yet every time an older former player says anything, it’s tied to the money they aren’t getting from current players.

  16. I’m sorry, but I can’t help to agree with any player now that gives him a wave off and says “ok old man”.

    It was a different era. To say that the first thing a player asks a former player is “how much did you make” is an obvious statement. Players now make millions, players from the beginnings of sport are going to make way, way less. Do you think Sherman would have turned down a multi-million dollar contract if it were to be had? Because I don’t.

    And of course Sherman wasn’t going to ask Robeson and Owens how much they made. They were trail blazers, a rarity in their field(as stated, Sherman himself, one of the first African American players). The league has broken wide open where that isn’t even remotely an issue any longer.

    Put bluntly, Sherman was happy he had an opportunity to play. Players good enough to make it now didn’t have race as a hurdle, or an upstart sports league. The NFL is an established cash cow.

  17. Players make the league bottomline. They come and go..but they make the game what it is not owners. I can name great players from every era, name me the owners of the Raiders before Al Davis? I loved Jim Zorn & Steve Largent..who owned the Seahawks in the late 70’s? Who owned the Broncos before Pat Bowlen? Who owned the Eagles in the 60’s? Get my point? Replace all the players and in 10 years you will still have the same problems, between players and owners. So what are you going to do then replace the players everytime they fight for rights? You can, but will your league continue to grow?
    Red Grange
    Bronco Nagraski
    Otto Graham
    Sammy Baugh
    You know those names, who where the owners they played for?

  18. FYI. I’m not going to respond to every person who responds to a post I make, because most of them make no sense. My last response was @willycents…he makes a reasonable arguement (wrong thought) so I responded.

  19. I think the state of the players attitude is a reflection of society as a whole. There’s a lot of sense of entitlement, zero respect for the law, a flaunting of a lack of education, glorifying gang bangers and hard-core rappers, zero respect for elders and each other, zero interest in investing in the future, etc.

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