After the 1979 season, the Houston Astros signed pitcher Nolan Ryan to a 4-year, $4.5 million dollar contract. This made Ryan the first major American sports star to earn a million dollars a year (not including endorsements).
Fast-forward to 2011. The Philadelphia Eagles signed quarterback Michael Vick to a 6-year, $100 million dollar contract. Actually, Michael Vick is the only player to sign two contracts worth over $100 million dollars, as his 1994 contract with the Atlanta Falcons was a 10-year, $130 million dollar deal.
While $100 million might sound like a lot, keep in mind that this averages out to just $16.7 million, annually. So, not surprisingly, Vick isn’t the highest paid athlete in the NFL. The highest paid quarterback, for example, is the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning, who earns $23 million a year.
Major League Baseball pays its top stars the best, and seventeen of the top 30 best-paid athletes play baseball; by way of comparison, only 3 NFL stars make the top 30, while 9 NBA stars are also on the list. Somewhat surprisingly, Samuel Eto’o is number 2 on the list at $28 million annual. Who is Eto’o? He apparently plays a game called soccer.
In 2007, the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $275 million contract. So consider this: How much do you make at your job? If you earned $100,000 a year, which is still a respectable sum, certainly, you would only need to work 2750 years to equal what A-Rod will earn by 2017.
Will we see the first billion-dollar contract signed in our lifetimes? When it comes to money, is there ever something called “enough” or “too much”?
“Money often costs too much.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference.” – Barack Obama