Think of professional football as a stack of pancakes, and money as a delicious pat of butter that’s just starting to melt when the waitress puts it down in front of you and asks if you want another cup of coffee, darlin’. The NFL is the top pancake and gets almost all of the creamy goodness, while every other football league either has to settle for what drips down the sides. In 2010, the median player salary in the NFL was $770,000. In 2010, players in the UFL were slated to earn $6,250 per game (or a total of $50,000 for the season) plus bonuses for making the playoffs and winning the league championship, but some players still hadn’t been paid everything they were owed until March 2011. Even freelance writers get paid quicker than that. (See my attached invoice—note the amount in the “90 Days Past Due” column.) Players in the Canadian Football League get paid a similar amount per game, but in Canadian currency. (For more information on calculating the exchange rates for various currencies, see our articles on careers in fortune telling and auguries).
Some fortune tellers are so well-dressed.
Unlike most major professional sports leagues (including MLB and the NBA), the NFL does not offer guaranteed contracts. This means that when a football player is cut by a team, his contract is terminated and he stops being paid. So while a baseball player who signs a $100 million contract will be paid all $100 million regardless of how poorly he plays or how often he gets hurt, a football player who gets released after earning $3 million of a $100 million contract never gets to see the other $97 million.