Attention Sports Media! Finance Is Not a Sport!!!According to published reports, Tom Brady will be paid $57 million by the New England Patriots through the 2013-2017 seasons, every last penny of it in guaranteed money.
According to other published reports, some by the same reporters, Joe Flacco signed a contract for $120.6 million to be employed by the Baltimore Ravens from 2013 through 2018. $52 million of that sum is guaranteed. The rest of that impressive sum is NFL monopoly money, the imaginary totals used to make contracts sound more impressive than they are.
Published reports also suggest that both Brady and Flacco's contracts will be renegotiated in the near future, Brady's to give him more money, Flacco's to reduce the imaginary sums he signed for yesterday.
So far, so good if so irrational. However, we now come to the the published reports stating that Brady's deal with the Patriots was act of self-abnegation on behalf of a greater good on a par with Gautama Buddha's renunciation of his worldly goods and the ones stating that Flacco's contract makes him the Highest-Paid Player in NFL History, a title treated with both reverence and contempt.
Even in NFL finance, 57 is more than 52. Flacco's likely to wind up earning more than Brady over the next six years. But not that much more. His title should be "Maybe But Probably Not Highest-Paid Player in NFL History." Paid is a past tense word, and Flacco's salary gets hazier the future one peers into the future.
Nor is Brady all altruist. Could he have bargained for more from New England? Sure, if he wanted some of it to be in NFL money designed to be the stuff of press releases rather than legal tender.
Brady, whose portfolio must be conservative enough to gladden the heart of the stuffiest banker in Zurich, chose the prudent path of guaranteed sums. That's a financial judgment on his part, not a moral one.
At a press conference yesterday, Flacco said his new deal was about the respect he'd earned from the Ravens organization. I heard that and sighed. If that's so, Joe, then what will the inevitable restructuring of the deal represent?
One of the several reasons I would choose Brady as my quarterback over Flacco is that quarterbacks are management. When it comes to executives, I don't want one for whom money is about respect or anything psychological. I want one for whom money is just money.