Terrance Knighton tees off on NBA, NFL salary discrepancy

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The criticism of NFL player compensation, sparked by the latest wave of never-heard-of-him multimillionaires in the NBA, arguably has reached an unprecedented level. And former NFL defensive lineman Terrance Knighton provided a strong case for change via a stream of tweets from Saturday and Sunday.

His message includes various comparisons of specific NFL players who should be making more than specific NBA players. It’s compelling, and many would say it’s accurate.

But the truth continues to be that NBA players get their contracts within the confines of their broader labor deal, and NFL players get their deals within the confines of their broader labor deal. Knighton gets it: “NFL makes billions a year. Time to get back to that negotiation table. And this time we need to stay strong and not budge. Make em Pay!!!”

Which leads us back to the point made last night. To get a better labor deal, NFL players need to be willing to use all of the tools in the labor-deal bag. Which means, ultimately, that NFL players need to be willing to go without football or the cash and fame that flow from it.

Whatever the plan (and the best one would entail replacing the revenue by staging their own football games), there needs to be one now, four years before the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The longer the effort to persuade players to stand firm in 2021, the harder it will be to make it happen.

Ultimately, it may be impossible. But unless and until the players convince the owners that the players can and will miss games for up to a full season, then the players will never get the best deal that they possible can.

That doesn’t mean a strike that stretches into the regular season needs to happen. It means that the players need to make the owners believe that strike that stretches into the regular season will happen without a better deal — in the same way the owners made the players believe six years ago, during the lockout.

63 responses to “Terrance Knighton tees off on NBA, NFL salary discrepancy

  1. The players are the game and they deserve the money. You could replace all the owners and the quality of play would not change, if you replace the players, you have unwatchable garbage.

    Pay the men that do the actual work!

  2. Nice try sparky…have you spoken to the union leader about this? Didn’t Buckner try this? The NFL OWNS the union, and it will never change… Take you’re millions and be happy

  3. The argument would be what percent of revenue goes to NBA players vs NFL players? I believe the revenue split is pretty close in both leagues. Then it comes down to the fact that one team has to divide that revenue by 12 players and the other by 53. It’s not that complicated.

  4. You would have unwatchable garbage for maybe 3 years if even that. Think about it like this so the NFL players say we aren’t playing. Are the owners going to say well damn I guess we won’t continue. No they are going to get replacements and still draft the best players out of college. So the first two years or so are going to be like a NCAA all star teams but after that it’s going to be back to the NFL as we know it with the ex players completely losing out. They are in a no win situation no matter what.

  5. The players staged an All-Star game during the ’82 strike and it was a miserable failure. The owner’s scheduled three weeks of games with replacement players in ’87 during the strike. And that was almost as unwatchable, but there were players that were NFL caliber involved in the scab games. Striking players noticed that and began breaking ranks because they feared for their jobs. And the league kept going.
    My point being, the players have little to no chance of winning during negotiations. They don’t have the funds nor do they have the shelf life. A season not played is a season (salary) you will never get back.

  6. You do get that the NBA has 15 players on their roster and 5-6 “starters” versus the NFL with 53 players on their active roster with 24 (including special teams) “starters”, don’t you? I mean, how can you expect NFL players to individually average the same amount of money as NBA players? Ignoring that dynamic is just stupid. The average NFL player will never make the same money as the average NBA player. The NFL salary cap would have to be upwards of $450 Million dollars per team per year to get there.

    Math is math.


  7. NBA rosters are capped at 15 players. NFL rosters are capped at 53 players. Why on earth are we constantly pushing this story now?!?!? THERE IS NO WAY AN ELITE NFL PLAYER WILL EVER BE ABLE TO MATCH THE SALARY OF AN ELITE NBA PLAYER! The economics are completely different, and they always will be.

    The only way to ever start seeing NFL salaries rise to levels comparable to NBA, would be to cut roster sizes… …which would mean, less players, less job opportunities, and less revenue for the NFLPA (translation: no chance in hell).

  8. Comparing individual salaries of players from different leagues is an apple versus oranges comparison. Without counting IR & practice squad players, there are roughly 1700 players in the NFL. While there are roughly only 450 players in the NBA.

    For those that are having trouble with the maths, 1700 > 450.

    So while the NFL generates a few billions more in revenue that the NBA, the NFL has close to four times as many players to spread that money around to.

    Also, owners always have the advantage in any labor strife that may include missed games. Every single owner has the ability to continue receiving income from their multiple other revenue streams while only a few players have that ability.

    Players shouldn’t be complaining, the cap has skyrocket under new CBA.

  9. Stupid comments. NBA have 15 man rosters. NFL has 53 man rosters. The money is spread easier in the NBA.

  10. The NBA actually decreased its percentage to players to 51% but also expanded that gross revenue to change what they were splitting and what BRI (Basketball Related Income) was. That includes arena signage. NFL players get about 48%. Locally licensed products by teams are not shared and I’m not sure about private suites, but that’s fair. Why should owners like Kraft and Jones who sell naming rights to their stadiums and work hard on local deals share with slacker owners who don’t? By extension, that would go to players as well.

  11. 53 players compared to 15 players, 16 games compared to 82 games, yeah looks the same to me……..

  12. It’s hard to argue against his reasoning because in football, you have 1696 players at the start of the season. There are 7.6 billion people in the World; and only 1696 of that 7.6 billion of people can play NFL football. I’d want to be paid if I was in that 1696 of NFL players.. Especially knowing that the NFL brings in more then 10 billion+ per year with billionaire owners.

  13. Within two weeks, the owners scraped together 28 teams back in ’87, and the networks were happy to broadcast those games.

    Most of the scabs were training camp cuts or players who didn’t get drafted. But some NFL players crossed the line: Jeff Kemp and Steve Largent hung 261 yards and three TDs against the Lions replacement players.

    The owners lost the last time they tried to dig their heels in (replacement officials). And they don’t like to lose. I fully expect them to dig their heels in if the players were to strike, maybe have a complete roster turnover for the entire league if absolutely necessary.

  14. Even if the players secured 100% of the $13B NFL pie, they’d still make less than NBA players.

  15. Coming from a guy who after the Pats signed him last offseason just assumed he would make the team because of his vet status and salary, and then got cut because he was lazy and didn’t work hard, I think he was paid just fine.

    And hopefully no team is silly enough to give him another contract.

  16. Really? You actually think that NFL players are willing to lose a whole year of earnings to force a few more dollars into the cap? How about the rookies that year? Are second through 7 round rookies willing to postpone their paydays and perhaps never get them back? Would the owners lose money? Sure, they would. But, by and large, they are billionaires. Losing money one year just reduces their taxes for the next 10 years like Trump.

  17. The only way NFL players would come close to making NBA money is if they stripped rosters down to 30 players and went back to everyone playing 2-ways… offense and defense.

  18. As a Browns fan, I’ve been watching replacement football going on 19 years now…not sure if I’d really see a difference if a strike were to occur. Heck, we might even win a few games! Lol…who am I kidding, they’d still suck.

    As to the salaries, these guys still make a ridiculous amount of money to play a game. Let’s have some perspective folks.

  19. Moronic. NBA players have 82 regular season games, plus summer league or international league plus Olympics plus preseason and practice…..they go 24/7. They generate MUCH more revenue than the NFL in shoe and sports drink contracts alone. Less players, it’s just basic math. NFL players that don’t see this are jealous and can’t see past the basic business.

    The NBA may kill itself, but so far…..

    The NFL is well on the way….

  20. pshark5 says:
    The players are the game and they deserve the money. You could replace all the owners and the quality of play would not change, if you replace the players, you have unwatchable garbage.
    Pay the men that do the actual work!

    How amusingly naïve.
    The NFL is a business, period! As in any business, those who put up the working capital and take the financial risks are the ones who do — and should — reap the lion’s share of the profits.
    Yes, we consumers watch the NFL to see good football, not to watch owners get rich. Take away the players and there is no game. But without the owners there is no game either.
    Bottom line: NFL owners either made their billions elsewhere, or made huge profits off the ever-increasing valuation of their teams (even those that inherited them). Take away their teams and most would just fine.
    On the flip side, take the NFL away from the employees and any that haven’t already gotten rich off the game would become the best player you never heard of in his local flag football league.
    Granted, a number of NFL players are smart, educated and motivated men who would do well anywhere in the business world. But a larger percentage would be no better off than any other working stiff. Sadly, too many skated by on their athletic skills, forsaking opportunities for a real education. Too many would be bums on the street without the NFL and riches they absolutely could not earn anywhere else.
    NFL players aren’t merely employees, they’re the product and therefore deserve a larger piece of the pie than the average worker (which they are most assuredly getting).
    Nevertheless, while many owners may seem greedy, unlikeable, or not very good at running their teams, as long as they put up the working capital to operate the NFL they’re entitled to the largest share of the profits from their financial investments. It’s simple Business 101.

  21. They have a quarter of the roster. As far as the full guarantees, players should play the game like Revis after their rookie deal with a series of short term deals, and if they care about this issue long term, negotiate in the next CBA so that teams don’t control rookies for 4 or 5 years before they get their first extension to maximize earnings. However, there is a trade ff to that as many parts of teams that depend on chemistry will suffer and thus the game’s popularity in general will further suffer. So that’s a catch 22 too.

  22. Ultimately, it may be impossible. But unless and until the players convince the owners that the players can and will miss games for up to a full season, then the players will never get the best deal that they possible can.
    It won’t work. The owners can simply say:

    “Go ahead. We can talk next year. In the meantime, we will field teams with different players and after a year or two many will become stars of their own and we may strike a better deal with the new guys who appreciate the opportunity they now have. If your strike lasts into the regular season then it will last the entire regular season.
    Make sure your union members know that the owners will consider 1 game missed as 1 season missed by the current players. We are anxious to see what the numbers wind up being when we play out an entire season with new players. We will honor the contracts of any player who wishes to remain in the league this year. When your money runs out you will be in a far worse negotiating position than you are right now. That, of course, assumes we will even bother talking to you next year. Good luck.”

  23. Good news everybody. The NFL is going to increase from a 16 game season to a 50 game season so that NFL players can “get that money”… oh wait. Only way NFL players are gonna see $50 million per year is if ticket prices become $7,000 a game. Which isn’t going to happen. Do the math idiots

  24. If the NFL strikes, the billionaire owners will likely continue to be billionaires. Football players will likely go broke and be forced to sell used cars or be bouncers at their local clubs.

  25. who cares what NBA players make, basketball is about as real as WWE now.

    and if you dont like making millions in football then go play basketball.

  26. “It’s a business!” What is all this crap at the draft where commissioner Goodell hugs the drafted players? It’s sickening what the NFL will do to put a positive face on a pig. I’m not opposed to profit making, but this sham is over the top. Now the NFLPA wants more money. If the NFL keeps allowing teams to re-locate to “get the money” they’ll end up in the tank.

  27. Suck it Up Buttercup!!!

    NFL pays $4.1 billion a year in salaries more than any other league in the ENTIRE WORLD

    NBA pays $2.9 billion

    NFL season 20 games including preseason
    Average NFL salary- $2.4 million = $120,000 per games

    NBA season 90 games including preseason
    Average NBA salary- $6.9 million = $76,667 per game

    Number of NFL players =1696
    Number NBA players= 420

    So I think the math says NBA players are getting the shaft.

    This doesn’t even take into account the cost of NFL equipment compared to the NBA.

  28. I think there should be a set pay rate for every position that is then enhanced by a set bonus schedule for stats. Prima donnas don’t make a dime more than worthless players until they produce results that are based on each position. This way each player is treated equally – all start off at a minimum wage and have to earn their money. And if players want any profit sharing, they also have to share in all debts paid by the team. There will be no increase in salary for veterans and rookie earn the same dirtball minimum wage as veterans. Playing time on the team is determined by the head coach and there is no cause of action for anyone being benched and thus depriving them of income. The NFL’s fine system would be thrown out and would instead by administered through playing time bans of 1, 5, and 16 game suspensions for first, second, and third offenses. A fourth suspension would be a lifetime ban from the NFL.

    I’m tired of athletes wanting more money. Let’s start putting the ball back into the players’ court where they have to produce. This is a business that masquerades as a sport.

    Any NFL distributions for television contracts would be divided equally to the teams which would be required to pay 75% of that money directly to players to cover the bonus structures which would be agreed to by a majority of the teams.

  29. pshark5 says:
    Jul 9, 2017 1:51 PM
    The players are the game and they deserve the money. You could replace all the owners and the quality of play would not change, if you replace the players, you have unwatchable garbage.

    Well, I remember well the Patriots before Robert Kraft bought the team. They were the laughingstock of the league. They were the “Patsies”. Ownership makes a HUGE difference.

  30. How come I don’t here Terrance, Florio or any of the others pushing this same insipid line ask why teachers aren’t making comparable salaries to NFL players? Or, why are not the military folks (protecting these whiny ass millionaires) paid comparable salaries? Terrance and Florio know the reason – and it is the same fuggin reason NBA players make more than NFL players. Holy smokes.

  31. My guess is that Mr. Knighton will not be seeing any more contract offers, and will soon be run off like the American traitor, Kaeperneck

  32. These dopes should have used some of their money to take a basic math class. Yes, the NFL generates more in revenue, but it has far more players to pay. A NBA team is allowed a maximum of 15 players on their roster but the league average is 14. That’s 420 guys to play. A NFL team has 53 players, excluding their practice squad. That’s 1696 guys to pay.

    With annual revenues of $13 billion the NFL produces an average of $7.7 million per player. The NBA produces an average of $10.7 million per player.

    The NBA’s CBA dictates the players get between 49% and 50% of revenues. The NFL’s CBA dictates the players get 47% to 48.5%.

    I would also hazard to guess it costs a lot less to build an NBA arena, which can also be used for hockey, versus a single use NFL stadium.

    Terrance, buy a calculator and do the math.

  33. The NFL players are acting foolish. You want the big NBA pay checks? Join the NBA! It’s far easier to pay 5 NBA players kazillions , than pay 22 NFL players kazillions! Same with Hockey, less players, easier to pay.

  34. pshark5 says:
    Jul 9, 2017 1:51 PM
    The players are the game and they deserve the money. You could replace all the owners and the quality of play would not change, if you replace the players, you have unwatchable garbage.
    Tell that to the 10s of millions of people who watch college football

  35. Everybody who thinks Terrance Knighton deserved more money, stand up and give a cheer

  36. Look, this can be broken down by a very simple economic 1o1 lesson called supply and demand.

    In the NBA a full roster is 15 people and most teams don’t even max that out. An NFL roster is 53 people plus a 10 man practice squad. That’s 63 total players going up against a hard salary cap as opposed to 15.

    If the players don’t like their compensation they are free to leave this sport and try another one or try getting compensated at the same level in some other job outside of sports. Good luck with that. Good news is that minimum wage is going up to $15/hr. in a lot of places.

    The other thing they can do is pay more attention to their own union and force it to do their bidding and to represent them properly. Time to oust the current NFL stooge that is currently heading up their union and use somebody that has the players’ best interests at heart. If they don’t like the agreement, refuse to sign it until you get one you do like. Be prepared to go on a lengthy strike in order to get what you want. There is no NFL without the talented players that make it what it is.

  37. Stop and think for a minute about what a league run by the players would actually look like….. These are the same people who mostly wind up broke shortly after making millions.

    No, the owners are not replaceable.

  38. lsuzilla says:
    Jul 9, 2017 2:01 PM

    Waahhh. I need more money. Millions aren’t enough. Pigs

    I wouldn’t call a man who wants to maximize his income a pig. But I do wonder why so many players who have earned many, many millions over their careers file for bankruptcy a few years into retirement. The players would be better served by having the NFLPA provide money management and investment classes on an ongoing basis. And a great many of these players should realize that other than football, they possess no marketable skills. In the end, the overall importance is not how much you make, it’s how much you save.

  39. @ stipez says:
    Jul 9, 2017 3:02 PM

    Still, something is messed up in the world when a guy gets 200 mil to play basketball.
    Or appear in movies and/or television, sing songs, saying “Let’s get ready to rumble!” Or play baseball or ice hockey or get $1.5 million for winning a golf tournament. Monetarily, everything has gone haywire.

  40. NFL players won’t get paid like NBA players, but people please don’t bring up the number of games played since this strictly is based on the roster sizes and the revenue split between employees. As someone else said, only cutting rosters would make this possible to pocket more per player, and i don’t think any sane player wants that.

  41. Total revenue in the NFL vs total cost to run the sport annually is totally different then the NBA. Start with a 53 man roster vs 14. Then go to the coaching and management structure. It’s huge in the NFL vs the NBA.

    Then the cost of the stadiums vs NBA venues.

    The NFL makes 3 X revenue but costs are more than 3 X higher too.

  42. jonwill57 says:
    Jul 9, 2017 7:57 PM
    @ stipez says:
    Jul 9, 2017 3:02 PM
    Still, something is messed up in the world when a guy gets 200 mil to play basketball.
    Or appear in movies and/or television, sing songs, saying “Let’s get ready to rumble!” Or play baseball or ice hockey or get $1.5 million for winning a golf tournament. Monetarily, everything has gone haywire.


    As long as I pay for tickets, watch on TV through cable I pay for and buy jerseys I think It’s probably my fault they get paid so much to some extent. But I keep doing it anyway.

  43. Just bring in replacement players. I don’t care because I figure Belichick’s winning percentage may even go up since his scrubs will get coached up faster and better. Not till the GOAT at QB finishes his run though; don’t want him to miss out on more rings.

  44. NBA TV rights current contract pays out at roughly $2.7 billion / yr. players get 51%. The new deal almost tripled from prev deal. Salary cap goes from 62 mil up to 91 mil. Thats big ! 15 player roster. 6 mil avg / player

    NFL TV rights is $7.2 billion inc DirecTv.
    Each team gets $226 million
    Salary cap is $167 million.
    53 man roster. $3.15 million/player

    And the teams make all kinds of $$$$$ on apparel rights, endorsements, etc.

    The owners deserve to make something on the mind boggling amount they have invested.

    My opinion – Shut Up Terrance !!!

  45. Ultimately only QBs will ever get the kind of money NBA players do. No other position is worth that much money. Either you pay for a great QB to offset your weaknesses elsewhere or distribute the money among your entire team, or at least one side of the ball, to be dominant enough.

  46. The players need to look in the mirror. They choose there own union representatives. Nobody picks them for them. These guys should be blaming themselves. I’m tired of all the complaining about the bad labor deals. Complain to your union reps. Maybe the players better wise up and let someone else choose the union reps. Obviously, they’re not very good at it. I guarantee you Florio would be a heck of a lot better than the current player reps, for a number of reasons. Some, I won’t even say.

  47. Nobody questions both sides get paid.
    In the 50s, CEOs made 5x the income of their median employee.
    Now, it can exceed 3500x. This is simple leveraged capitalism.
    I’m not making moral or value judgements, but risk takers are reaping significantly higher amounts of the financial pie in almost all walks of business.

  48. NBA Roster : 12
    NFL Roster : 53

    NBA Games : 82
    NFL Games : 12

    It’s not hard to do the math. Shut up and stop complaining. It’s like me whining about how I am a tradesman and only make $80k a year, when a Dr. makes $200k. I’m not a doctor.

  49. How much are union dues in the nfl? Also all these anti union posts are owners. Great workers are rare. Guy produces pay up, bottom line.

  50. Someone once said “hogs get slaughtered” so I think a guy whose nickname is “pot roast” might want to rethink his rant…

  51. Go ask your boss what percentage of business revenue should be payroll. He or she will answer…

    Limiting your payroll expenses to between 15 and 30 percent of your gross income can help to keep your business in good financial standing

  52. The he should go play in the NBA or MLB. Nobody forced him to play football, and let’s face facts probably 75 to 80 percent of NFL players would be broke, or on the edge because they have giant bills for living a lavish lifestyle.

  53. Just to show how important faces are. if only the nfl can play with their faces showing, maybe they would secure those 400 million dollar contracts that nba players will be getting like next week….

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