Former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw is no stranger to strong statements and headlines and he’s at it again. Now he is calling the salary Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban receives shameful.
Bradshaw is upset that Saban gets a salary of $11 million this season, including a signing bonus, because it is more than the entire athletic budget at some schools. His point is that Saban earns a huge amount of money. He’s right, Saban does.
The question is why does Bradshaw care? What difference does it make in Bradshaw’s life how much Saban makes? What difference does it make in anyone’s life how much anyone else makes? Is it even possible to make too much money?
Saban doesn’t make the rules, he just plays by them. He’s a successful employee in a lucrative job. Arguably he is at the top of his profession and he’s paid what the market bears. In addition to his base salary there are a number of perks and bonuses including essentially free housing, free country club, free travel, and his apparel stipend. Bradshaw wasn’t even including all of that in his rant.
Now, to be sure, I understand where Bradshaw is coming from. There are executives who make enormous sums of money. Some of them are doing a terrible job while collecting that paycheck. The heads of large charities are making seven figure salaries. Professional athletes get enormous contracts. There is a sense of inequity when I think about someone who works very hard at a job paying far less. There is certainly a sense of jealousy that I’m not making that kind of money.
When we see someone like Saban we think about all the people who are going to bed hungry. People who are scrimping and saving to keep a roof over their head. People who have lost everything and are living in squalor.
But it’s important to understand Saban is making a lot of people money, not just himself. Everyone associated with the Alabama football team who gets a salary, that’s to say everyone but the players, is making a better living because Saban is successful.
The construction worker who helped build and improve Bryant-Denny stadium is thankful Saban coaches winning football because it helps that worker pay the rent. The announcers are thankful to Saban for indirectly providing them with a job. The sanitation engineer who cleans Saban’s office is grateful Alabama has a football team because it is a job that would otherwise not exist.
I’m not saying the world is a fair or equal place, it’s not. That sanitation engineer probably works extremely hard and is proud of her or his work. If not for that worker, the office would not be as tidy and Saban’s job would be more difficult. It would be nice if everyone earned plenty of money and had all the things they wanted; the world is not that way.
Bradshaw must understand reducing Saban’s salary will not increase the athletic budget anywhere else. The two are not connected.
By Tom Liberman
Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time.