Tom Brady made headlines again. This week it was for restructuring his contract. Why it was notable was that he agreed to take less money. It was a refreshing change from the I-deserve-more attitude that’s prevalent today. Mr. Brady’s action garnered a bunch of positive comments, because he is putting the team’s needs before his own. By taking less money, he allows the team to spend more on other players and make the whole team better.
It certainly sounds about right. Brady has all the money he needs. His competitive desire is not for more money but for another Super Bowl victory.
All that news broke and was being reported before it was confirmed. That got me thinking “What if it’s not true? What if it’s a PR stunt or something?” And that made me think of this, the point of today’s post:
What if a team could indirectly coerce a star athlete into taking less money by leaking reports of his unselfish contract restructuring?
This could work for any team whose league has a salary cap. An athlete on the team is taking a disproportionate amount of the salary cap, but there are no negotiations to change that. An unnamed source from the team leaks a news report about how the athlete is agreeing to take less money for the good of the team. Headlines the next day tout the unselfish attitude of the athlete, radio call-in shows are buzzing about how nice the athlete is, blog posts abound with comments of how we need more people like him.
Later that day the athlete, his PR firm, and his agent meet. Their first reaction would have been to issue a statement saying the report is false and the athlete will be abiding by the terms of his current contract. But they realize that all the goodwill he has gathered that day will be lost and the public will turn against him and thus his spokesmanship earnings will be at risk. So they decide to issue a statement that says the contract is still is negotiation and the terms are not final. The athlete ends up taking one for the team, but not because he wanted to.
That would be underhanded of the team, and it would probably work only once. And if it did work, then what’s to stop the athlete from getting back at the team the next year? Maybe by leaking a false report that the first 500 people who show up at the manager’s house on such-and-such a date will be entered into a drawing for a free luxury box for the season, or call the team offices today for free jerseys, or – sticking with the monetary theme – the team will be lowering ticket prices 10% this season.
Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts..