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Best things in life free, except for pro athletes

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New car, caviar, four-star daydream,

Think I’ll buy me a football team.

—“Money” by Pink Floyd

Hey, it’s only money.

But we love to talk about it, dream about it, complain about it — especially when it comes to pro athletes.

Eight-figure salaries get thrown around like play bucks in a super-sized Monopoly game.

In what other setting can we lament that someone making $10 million a year is woefully undervalued? How can we take serious the money issues of someone who makes more in a day than a teacher or police officer makes in a year?

It’s obscene, but it is also the reality of pro sports.

We are reminded again of that alternate universe with ESPN’s annual report on money in sports, a chronicle of who makes what and who should make more.

With that as a resource, let’s see what you know about who brings home how much cold cash for simply playing a game.


1. He may not be an astronaut, but this Purdue grad is the NFL’s highest-paid player. Who is he and how much does he make (within $5 million!)?

2. The highest-paid player in the MLB hasn’t taken a swing this year. Who is he?

3. He is the NBA’s top star in terms of “surplus value,” an ESPN calculation that compares on-court performance with salary. Pacers fans know who he is.

4. By the same “surplus value” calculation, the Colts had a player lead the NFL as the “worst value” during the 2012-13 season. Who is he?

5. You don’t have to think outside the box to name the world’s highest-paid athlete. Take a guess.

6. In addition to the answer for No. 2, the Yankees have three more players among the top 30 highest-paid athletes in the world. Here’s a bet you can’t name all three.

7. It may not surprise you that Kobe Bryant is the highest-paid player in the NBA at $27.8 million (No. 8 on the surplus value list). Can you name who is No. 2?

8. Three of the top five names on the list are far from household names in the U.S. What are the occupations of No. 2 Lionel Messi, No. 4 Fernando Alonso and No. 5 Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

9. He took an $8.4 million pay cut, but this former Colt is still No. 50 on the list.

10. According to “surplus value” calculation, these are the best and worst franchises in MLB, NBA and NFL in terms of economic efficiency (e.g. bang for payroll buck).


1. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees makes $40 million in 2013.

2. The Yankees’ 37-year-old third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, has spent the year on the disabled list. He will make $29 million this season on a long-term contract under which $100 million is still due.

3. Paul George, who makes $2.6 million under his rookie contract, is worth $14.1 million. The swingman will reap a big payday after next season. Currently, he represents only 3.8 percent of the Pacers’ payroll.

4. Dwight Freeney, who made $19 million, had a value of $2.9 million, a $16.1 million under-performance.

5. Boxer Manny Pacquiao took home $52 million.

6. They are Mark Teixeira (No. 15, $23.1 million), C.C. Sabathia (No. 16T, $23 million) and Vernon Wells (No. 24T, $21 million).

7. Minnesota’s Brandon Roy makes $21.5M (No. 27).

8. Messi ($46 million) plays soccer for Barcelona; Alonso ($38.5 million) is a Formula One driver; and Ibrahimovic ($32.7 million) plays soccer for PSG, a Paris team.

9. Denver’s Peyton Manning makes $18 million.

10. Best: A’s, Thunder and Patriots; worst: Phillies, Magic and Chiefs.

Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net

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