Video of Buffalo Bills Nyheim Hines’s opening score against the New England Patriots.
Hamlin’s necklace can simply be torn
Dominique Foxworth is one of the many former NFL players who find it hard to believe Goodell’s words. “The NFL says it cares about its players,” says the former president of the NFLPA Players Association, now an ESPN sports analyst. “This is really nonsense.”
When Hamlin signed his first NFL contract in May 2021, it was only certain that he would collect the $160,476 (€148,442) signing bonus in full. The rest of his salary – $3.48m (€3.22m) in four years – looked good on paper, but there was no guarantee he would get that amount. The bills can tear up the contract at any time, without paying a dime.
This is the reality for almost all professional American football players. In the NFL, fully guaranteed contracts are rare, unlike the other major American leagues the NBA (basketball), MLB (baseball), and NHL (ice hockey). While American football is undoubtedly the most dangerous sport. Serious injuries are the rule, not the exception. The average length of an NFL career is just over three years.
However, it is precisely the inexperienced players who have the least protection in their contract. For example, Hamlin’s contract contains a clause that says he will only receive 55 percent of his salary if he is unable to play for an extended period of time due to injury (the Bills decided last week not to use that clause for that being). In addition, the NFL will not pay his health insurance for the first five years of his career. This ranking only applies to players who have played at least three years in the NFL, and Hamlin is only in his second season.
“All of the risk is on the players, while only a small percentage get enough money that will change their lives forever,” says Foxworth. “I hope we all remember that very dangerous things can happen in the field.”