The Yankees designated Vernon Wells for assignment last week, and today the three-time All-Star was officially released after no other MLB team grabbed him. The 35-year-old outfielder is now looking for work, but even if he doesn’t land on another team this year, he’ll still make $21 million dollars.
That’s right. Twenty one million American human dollars.
Back when Wells was a Blue Jay and a Gold Glove winner in 2006, he signed a back-loaded $126 million contract. It’s been all downhill for Wells since 2010, but that doesn’t matter — Wells’ deal is fully guaranteed and will keep him rich long after his playing days are officially over.
And yet, for young two-sport athletes like Florida State’s Jameis Winston, there’s still a question of whether to choose baseball over football?
There’s been a lot of talk recently about two-sport quarterbacks — three of the four QBs in this weekend’s playoff games were also baseball players, and even Wells played wide receiver before choosing baseball full-time. While things have worked out for Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick in the short-term, we’ll never know what their lives would have been like if they’d chosen caps over face masks.
First, there’s the money. Baseball contracts, unless otherwise mentioned, are guaranteed even if the player is cut. Only in rare instances can a team convert a deal into a non-guaranteed contract. Meanwhile, football contracts need to stipulate how much money is guaranteed in a contract besides the signing bonuses and other incentives. Everything else can be wiped away if a player is cut. For example: Darrelle Revis signed a $96 million contract with the Bucs last year. None of it is guaranteed. They could cut him tomorrow and he’d only have made $16 million. Not a bad amount — but nothing close to what that contract appears to be.
Meanwhile, the toll that baseball takes on your body can’t even be compared to the effects of football, particularly on the brain and central nervous system. Of course there are injury risks in baseball, and head risks as well — but even with our limited knowledge of CTE and other concussion-related illnesses, we know that the NFL players of today are putting themselves in grave short- and long-term danger. Baseball players, meanwhile, hurt themselves when they fluff up their kids’ pillows.
Vernon Wells is not the norm in baseball — his contract will probably go down as one of the worst ever. But the fact that he was able to capitalize on a few stellar years and set himself up (hopefully) for rest of his life is just one of the ways baseball players have it made compared to their football-playing peers.
If you love football — and if you love it way, way more (and are better at it) than baseball — then you love football and you should go play it. I’m sure few things top being an elite NFL quarterback. But if you love baseball too? Even if you love it, say, slightly less than football? You should consider going with that profession instead.
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