NFL & NFLPA Must Fix Fine Scale
Per a report by Anwar S. Richardson of MLive, Detroit Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith was fined $15,750 for a horsecollar tackle on Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Fines on athletes usually register barely a blip on the average fan’s sports radar, but fines like the one Smith received require not only the attention of fans, but also the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA). Smith was signed days before the game and was scheduled to make a weekly salary of $36, 176. Taking a straight-line estimate of a 30% cut for taxes, agent fees, and other miscellaneous expenses, that comes out to $25,323. Subtract the fine total and he’s left with $9,573, nice pay for the average Joe, but not for a professional athlete.
To put it in perspective, the fine amounted to 43.5% of his weekly salary, and after taxes/expenses were taken out, the fine removed 62% of his remaining salary. This is not about Smith though; it’s about the NFL recognizing the purpose of fines, which is to deter the behavior from occuring again. Another player fined $15,750 this year was Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller for a hit on Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. How does the fine impact Miller as compared to Smith? Miller’s average annual salary for his 4-year contract is $5,250,000, or a weekly pay check of $328,125. Before taxes/expenses, the fine account for 4.8% of his pay, and after, 6.8%. Doesn’t have the same impact to each player does it?
Let me be clear: I am not arguing for the increase of fines against players with bigger contracts. What I am arguing for is the NFL and NFLPA need to have a system in place that does not take more than a certain percentage of a player’s weekly paycheck (not including suspensions, when a player loses 100% of his check). In Smith’s case, I could not find a fine history on him, so let’s assume this is his first offense. The NFL could issue a penalty that says he’s fined $15,750 or 10% of his weekly paycheck, which ever is less. So in the case of Smith, he would be fined $3,617; in Miller’s case, he would obviously take the $15,750 since 10% of his weekly salary would be $32, 812. Am I too far off-base here thinking the NFL is being blatantly unfair with its fining practices? Where is the NFLPA on this matter? If the collective bargaining agreement already addresses fines, the NFLPA needs to work with the NFL to get that section re-written so it is more fair to the players who earn base salaries.
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