James Harden signed a $228 million dollar extension through 2023, and plenty of NFL players have taken notice. Terrance Knighton, retired NFL defensive tackle, went on a tweet storm this weekend over some of the discrepancies, saying that Aaron Rodgers should be making more than James Harden and Tom Brady more than Steph Curry.
Knighton dismisses the roster size issue, but it is a factor. That NBA revenue figure is off. The NBA was projected to make $8 million this year entering the season. It didn’t quite hit that due to the lopsided playoff series leading to fewer revenue-producing playoff games, but it was still much higher than 4.8 million. The NFL is king, but the NBA had revenue at more than half the NFL’s total thanks to the television rights deals (and ESPN certainly complained about what they were getting for that large amount of money when stars were resting this year.)
So when it comes to sports money, massively propped up by large television rights deals, it’s not about “deserve.” It’s about what you negotiate and the math. (Who’s to say, after all, what someone deserves for playing a sport?).
And the simple fact is, the NFL has to divide up twice the revenue on something more than three times the number of players. Further, the NBA players negotiated a slightly higher percentage of the overall pie, something that will again be tested when the next collective bargaining agreement arises. The last time it came up, the NFL players weren’t willing to make the owners miss games on television to drive a higher percentage.
A percentage point can make a big difference when you are talking about billions of dollars.