Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images

On Holding Out, Money and that NFC Title Game Loss

Welcome to Monday Morning QB, Guest Edition! 49ers tight end Vernon Davis takes the reins and dishes on topics including his ongoing contract situation, the biggest problem in NFL locker rooms and losing to the rival Seahawks

Welcome to my version of Monday Morning Quarterback. With Peter King on vacation, I have some thoughts on financial literacy in the NFL, the identity of the best QB not named Colin Kaepernick and the last word on that NFC Championship Game. But first, let’s talk about the elephant in the room…

Why I’m Holding Out

In 2010 I signed a five-year, $37 million contract extension with $23 million guaranteed. It was the biggest contract for a tight end in league history. Four years later, and I’m playing at a higher level than I was then, which brings me to why I’m holding out. It’s all about getting paid what you deserve. It’s not that complicated. I want the 49ers to win the Super Bowl, and I want to be on the field this summer working toward that goal, but I have to worry about my future first. Most of my teammates and many players in the NFL understand that. A few don’t. Behind closed doors, they’ll say they’re all about the team and would run through a brick wall for the organization. But when you look closer, they’re doing things to contradict themselves. I can’t listen to anyone but my family and my advisors, because those are the people who are going to be there when football inevitably dumps me.

Moving on…

The NFL’s Money Problem

The majority of the NFL draft class of 2006 turns 30 this season, if they haven’t already. I left the University of Maryland as a junior after turning 22 that January. It’s been eight years, and already, the guy picked after me at No. 7 (Michael Huff) is out of football, and the first QB taken—Vince Young—is gone too. Yet it still was a great draft, in retrospect. Thirty-seven of us have made Pro Bowls, including 17 first-rounders; more than 200 did not. Where do they all go? Some of them will last a dozen years in the league as journeymen, happy to scrape by. Many only lasted two or three years. Some of them got that first check and bought a car, and then another, and then another. They take expensive offseason vacations to places they never dreamed of going, or they go to the club every weekend, like I did as a rookie, desperate to satisfy the kid in each of us who once fantasized about having money.

Financial literacy is the biggest problem I see in NFL locker rooms. Too many players spend their money on cars they don’t drive and homes they barely live in.

I like the rookie wage scale that limited the salaries of all draft picks, which is easy for me to say having not been affected by it. First-rounders deserve a significant chunk of the pie, but not at the expense of veterans. The truth is, for many players, the size of the contract doesn’t matter because they’re going to blow the money anyway. Financial literacy is the biggest problem I see in NFL locker rooms. Too many players spend their money on cars they don’t drive and homes they barely live in. I’ve had veterans on their second contract ask me for money. More often, it’s retired players who need the help, once the checks have stopped coming. It took me fours years to figure it out, to see not only guys crash and burn, but to watch other players with business sense and learn from them. 

It should come as no surprise that quarterbacks are the best with their money. They’re the kids whose fathers owned small businesses or had comfortable enough careers to coach them up as kids. We didn’t have that. My parents were unstable or absent for my brothers Vontae and Michael, so we were raised by a grandmother in Washington. Many of the black players I know come from similar backgrounds, from single or no-parent homes. We were trying to figure out how to scrape together $5 while the quarterbacks were learning to manage a $100. Our young athletes need help, and that’s where the NFL and the NFLPA need to come in.

It’s not enough to gather rookies in June and tell them how not to go broke, or to offer an offseason financial seminar at a college. Those are great steps taken by the NFL in recent years with their rookie symposium and the player engagement program. But if they really want to save young players from themselves, they have to make it mandatory. Send a college professor to every NFL team and require all players to attend business seminars during training camp.  Maybe guys didn’t pay attention during college, but the lessons take on a new meaning when you’re finally getting paid.

More than 300 of us enter this league every year, and there’s no excuse for any of us to leave it poorer than we started.

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499 comments
Tom Overley
Tom Overley

Did not think I would like the article by him but it was ok except the constant us and the seahawks are so awsome stuff

christy76840
christy76840

I completely understand where Davis is coming from they should send these good to mandatory classes. They will thank the NFL for it later. I wish I had someone to atleast come knock me around a little and put me straight on something. I would have done a lot of things different.

usameos6
usameos6

It's funny to see all the "honor your contract" comments.  Hopefully, next week, Champ Bailey will be the guest writer to talk about how the Broncos cut him versus paying him the $9M that they owed him based on the contract they signed with him.  


It's a 2 way street - teams can cut players or renegotiate contracts for underperforming their contracts or to free up money they originally committed to get under the salary cap.  Players can choose to hold out and suffer the penalties that were negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement ($30,000 per day) in order to negotiate a better deal for themselves.  

busterdoodle
busterdoodle

Why does race have to be tossed in? Plenty of black qb's now days so how are they with their money? Since they are black does that mean they didn't have anyone at home teaching them the value of a dollar? RG3's dad is out there not hiding, living in Turlock I know all too well that Kapernicks parents brought him up the best way they knew how.  Your worth what someone will pay you  in any job period. If you want to hold out do so, but like nitehawk says will you go and ask for a pay cut if you have a couple of bad seasons? If so then I have more respect for you.....

nitehawk92
nitehawk92

Does that mean if he has a couple bad years that he would be willing to negotiate a new contract to cut his pay?  Its only fair...

Dennis M1
Dennis M1

I received a reduced rate on my water bill because, instead of turning on the spicket, I used the Vernon Davis tears collected in a 55 gallon drum.  Vernon it's time to STF UP and get your whining sob story keaster on the field.

thatsrightbub
thatsrightbub

I just have to shake my head anytime an athlete is talking about millions and has the gall to say "they deserve".  No one deserves that much money.

Buck2185
Buck2185

I say we have Vernon take a simple test to determine his contract - Have him spell "forty four million". If he gets it right, he gets the contract, if not, he gets nothing and goes to work at McDonalds which is the only other thing he is qualified to do.....I say the odds favor him getting it wrong....

brob99
brob99

When you signed a 5-year deal you sold the then market value of the next five years expected value of your services to the team. Implicit in the contract is the team paid for a series of options to terminate the contract early, you did not.

Wanting more money because you performed at a level above-expectations last year is the equivalent of wanting your premium back on your term life insurance at the end of the year because you didn't die.

If you want to get paid your market value each year then sign a series of one-year deals.

Acanne Judah (USA)
Acanne Judah (USA)

Peter, please do some better background checks on your guest columns. This was perhaps the worst article so far. This article is all about Vernon Davis and I don't care about him or his need to tell is why he needs to hold out for more money to "take care of his family," (perhaps the most used cliche by arrogant employees that backtrack on their previous signed agreements) after making $23 million already in guaranteed money. Seriously?? And instead of hiding behind "quarterbacks" are good with their money, take the plunge directly and make the correlation between race and financial awareness. Is that what he was insinuating or not?? As for soccer, or better yet, the real "football," stay out of the discussion regarding Klinsmann. The man knows what he is doing and what knowledge of "football" do you really have. And who cares about the NFC championship game anymore?? You have 300 girls kidnapped in Nigeria, Civil War ravaging the Middle East, Serious economic inequality in America and I have to hear about the importance of the championship game.

This article is one more example of giving a pulpit to an athlete that doesn't deserve it.

Peter, use this column as a source for inspiration, higher thought and positive change.. Not a pulpit for short-sighted egotistical athletes that can't see beyond themselves.....

seaneboy44
seaneboy44

Why is it your employer's responsibility to teach you how to allocate your resources?

Why should anyone care if athletes, most of whom received an opportunity to get a college education without incurring any debt, didn't pay attention in class?

If you had taken business classes, you might have learned what a contract is and that it is always a good idea to read one before signing it.  When you agree to terms, you cannot "outperform" those terms unless otherwise stipulated.

Players have to get over this mentality that they are used and discarded by manipulative owners.  It's a business and its time that the players acted as professionally as they claim to be.

UrsaMajor
UrsaMajor

Mr. Davis


At the time you signed your (then record breaking) $37 million contract, did you not expect to improve as a player over the next five years?  How could you not - the extra playing experience alone should make you a better player, let alone additional coaching and training.  The team would certainly expect you to improve over that time.  Don't you think that the contract was set with those expectations in mind?  And given that, the logic that you are a better player now doesn't hold up.  You were expected to get better.

Topspin 06
Topspin 06

Great guest column Vernon! Ignore the trolls, they obviously don't understand what a "column" is.  I'm a die-hard Hawks fan, and I must admit you've gained many points and much admiration from me, with your candid thoughts on money and the NFC champ game. Good luck on your new contract, stay healthy, and here's to a great 49ers/Hawks rivalry!!


SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

Peter King you should be suspended by Sports Illustrated for allowing Sports Illustrated to be used in my opinion by Vernon Davis and in likelihood others to promote his effort to get more money from the 49ers. Call me a troll but am I wrong people? Is this what Sports Illustrated has become, a promotion tool for a football player to seek more money from his team? Shame on you, Peter King. You have been used!

AdamCohen
AdamCohen

NFL Players do not get payed enough in the scheme of the business of the NFL. 


If Goodell can make 44 million in a year without sacrificing his body, players who spend the majority of the year doing so should be earning baseball type money.

Vrath
Vrath

It is funny the people ripping Vernon for a "fluke" year and he should honor his deal. NFL teams dont, if Davis's play slipped they'd cut him straight up. 


As for his ability if Davis played in a passing offense that utilized the TE say like NE, Denver, NO he would have monster numbers. He might be the most physically gifted TE in the league. He blocks something a lot of #'s TEs dont do or when they do they suck at it. Give the man some respect.


Of course it's his opinion and holding out is his choice we may not agree with it, imagine if all these internet trolls were privy to your daily job and life with most of your dirt out in the open with a comment section to boot. 

All that said I wish him luck, however like Lynch it's hard to envision the team actually offering him more money. 

Ciscos
Ciscos

The amount and number of people on here ripping Davis is hysterically funny. Some of you act like the money is coming directly out of your personal bank account.  Worse, you act like a business decision he's made - that's not uncommon in the NFL is patently offensive to you and your sensibilities that you're questioning your continued support.


Get over it. 


You can call it greed, selfishness, blah, blah, blah... the NFL, the league, is a business.  The last time I checked, it's still a business. Toss in the fact the Niners (or any other NFL team for that matter) has no problem in releasing a player - at any time, then all this yelping about him "holding out" for a new contract is pure folly.

dandaec
dandaec

2010...5 year contract...2014... Only 4 years later...23 million GUARANTEED!!!! your justification for being so f#%***ing greedy is you are playing better now than you were then. So, what was your plan? Pull a Haynesworth? Sign a giant, GUARANTEED, contract then play like crap? C'mon, dude. If you can't take care of your family on 23 mil GUARANTEED, plus whatever the hell else you made and whatever else you will make then you need some serious financial discipline.

DonParks
DonParks

I would so love MMQB if none of the articles were written by Peter King.

PaulGoode
PaulGoode

@usameos6 Exactly. A contract is dishonored when someone collects on it despite not delivering the work or effort promised. Since a football contract specifies financial penalties in the event of a holdout and since the player pays them (unless he negotiates otherwise), he's honoring the contract.

UrsaMajor
UrsaMajor

@usameos6 Sigh.  Aren't we past this line of reasoning?  The ability to cut a player is in the contract, it is not breaking it.  The guaranteed portion is the player's insurance against that.  If you want to guarantee the entire contract, kiss the signing bonus and other guaranteed money goodbye.

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

@nitehawk92 The lower educated football players who have been enabled their entire lives don't grasp the term fairness

Buck2185
Buck2185

@nitehawk92  The only thing this POS deserves is to have a new job - as a personal assistant to Donald Sterling.....

UrsaMajor
UrsaMajor

@thatsrightbub People "deserve" as much as someone else is willing to pay.  That' show markets work.  Note the distinction though - no one deserves what they think they should be paid.

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

@Acanne Judah (USA) I actually posted this yesterday and said that Peter King should be suspended for allowing Sports Illustrated to be used by an NFL Player and in likelihood others to promote this player's efforts to get more money from his team.  

CharlesVekert
CharlesVekert

@SandersonKramer As topspin says, this is an opinion column. It is quite reasonable for King to allow a player to give his reasons for a holdout. Don't we want to know the reasons a player feels justified to holdout? King is allowing Davis to state the facts as he sees them. King could have listened to Davis and reported the same stuff.  But getting the facts from the horse's mouth as some advantages.

King is not personally indorsing Davis' position. Perhaps King should include a disclaimer, since it seems that some people are confused on this point.

Acanne Judah (USA)
Acanne Judah (USA)

Totally agree. This guest column was a travesty. Peter should be ashamed. Where are the CNNSI editors.....?

Topspin 06
Topspin 06

@SandersonKramer  Yes you are wrong. This is a COLUMN, not a news beat - big difference! Instead try and appreciate the perspective that was shared with you.

MileHigh49er
MileHigh49er

44 million?! Wow I had no idea he made that much, ridiculous. As far as players getting paid....I never heard of any employee getting paid anywhere near what a business owner makes and rightfully so, they're the owners. You want owner money, gotta be the owner.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@AdamCohen Thank you for posting that. It shows the lunacy people have over a player practicing his legitimate right vs someone who... well, let's just say, does what in non tv contract renewal years besides issuing discipline for wayward athletes?

El Presidente
El Presidente

@Vrath it's not about respect or lack of. it's math. no one wants to see VD broke.

when we play more for a player already under contract, it directly effects what we can play players whose contracts are coming up or FA's.


doubleadub
doubleadub

@Ciscos Actually it is my money. I pay for tickets, NFL gear, The DirecTV package. It is my money. You pay for it too. And when anyone who made 23M guaranteed, in any venue of employment, NFL Physics, Banking, whatever,  complains about money, it is ridiculous. period.

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

@Ciscos Then he should get over it pleading his case to us. You can't have it one way not the other. Yes it's not our money as you said but if that's the case then don't sing us your 23 million dollars blues either as its not our concern.

Mike26
Mike26

@DonParks Wow, you and SI's #1 troll agree on something...that should tell you all you need to know about your post.

usameos6
usameos6

@UrsaMajor @usameos6 And if you want to hold players accountable to never renegotiating their contracts, then hold teams accountable in the same way.  The ability to hold out and pay a fine is in the CBA as well (under the forfeitable breach section (9A) - so this is part of the rules negotiated between the NFL and players to give the players a tool to renegotiate their end of the contract.  


FWIW - I much prefer the NFL's contract rules over those of the NBA/MLB - especially now that rookies aren't getting ridiculous contracts without ever playing and both sides have mechanisms to renegotiate salaries if they choose.  In Davis' case I actually think he's overplaying his hand based on his overall contribution and how he fits in with the team.  I guess we'll see how it all plays out.

usameos6
usameos6

@UrsaMajor @brob99 It's actually a pretty poor comparison - it's more the equivalent of wanting to pay a lower insurance premium because you quit smoking and now have a longer life expectancy (which happens all the time in the industry).  


If the owners had a problem with players holding out - they should have never agreed to allow it (with a financial penalty) as part of the CBA.

JubJub
JubJub

@El Presidente @Vrath That's a decision for the 49ers.  If they believe it's more valuable to let Davis go than pay him what he's asking for, they can do that.  

JubJub
JubJub

@doubleadub @Ciscos Then here's a suggestion: stop paying.  If the tickets are too much, then stop buying tickets.  What exactly is the problem here?

Several years ago, I made the decision to stop going to most concerts because they're too expensive.  If millions of other people joined me in that decision, then concert prices would fall.  Instead, millions of people have not joined me in that decision, so concert prices continue to rise.  I don't blame the performers for that; like the rest of us, they're trying to get as much as they can.  I blame the public because they're willing to pay. 

You have no one to blame but your compatriot NFL fans.  

UrsaMajor
UrsaMajor

@usameos6 @UrsaMajor The difference though, is that the team's right is to cut the player, ending the contract.  The player, by holding out, is seeking to re-open the contract and change it.

I like NFL type contracts better as well.  It generally provides a better way of sharing the risk between both the team and the player.  The guaranteed money gives the player some protection from a career ending injury, and the ability to cut the player gives the team some protection in the event that the player doesn't live up to expectations.

Mike26
Mike26

Another means-nothing retort.

usameos6
usameos6

@UrsaMajor @usameos6 And teams also re-open and change contracts (like the Giants just did with Kiwanuka) to save money against the cap, to lower salaries to acceptable terms, etc.  


Obviously, the owners don't like holdouts, but had to agree to this practice  (with increased financial penalties from years past) to ensure that they could maintain non-guaranteed contracts under the current CBA.


I do have a problem when a player takes a ton of guaranteed money up front and then is holding out the next year because they feel underpaid but don't take into account the signing bonus that they got, etc - but I think a lot of that is the fact that the media seems to fan the flames of "who is the highest paid ..." 


Mike26
Mike26

@SandersonKramer  Another personal attack instead of substantive material to discuss.  Oh wait, that's because you've never had much substantive to add to ANY conversation.

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