Playoffs are really not about the money for the players

Posted on January 19, 2011 by



Darren Rovell – of CNBC — examined how much an NFL player gets paid for winning the Super Bowl.  As I have noted before, professional athletes are paid for the regular season.  For the playoffs, the players are paid according to the playoff bonus pool.  And as Rovell notes below (where I re-posted his entire column), the bonus money pales in comparison to the top player’s regular season salaries.  In other words, the playoffs aren’t really about money.  This is really about the player’s competitive drive and love of the game. 

Every year, Major League Baseball announces how much the World Series winners get in bonus money for the postseason. This past year, the San Francisco Giants, who beat the Rangers, made $317,631, assuming a player was awarded a full share.

How does that compare to what an NFL player makes? And how much do they get paid in the playoffs versus what they make for the regular season?

NFL players, who win the championship, actually make more if you factor it out on a per game basis than baseball players did this year.

Let’s take a Jets or Packers player for example, who each played an extra game because they played in the Wildcard. They made $19,000 each for the Wildcard game, $21,000 each for winning the Divisional Playoff Game and are guaranteed $38,000 for the Title Game. Should they win the Super Bowl, they’d make $83,000 (losers make $42,000).

So if the Jets or Packers win the Super Bowl, each player will get $161,000 for their playoff run. Break that down by game and it’s $40,250 per game. The Giants played 16 games to win the World Series, so they received $19,852 per game.

The four games of work for Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez or Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is only a portion of their normal game salary. Including the bye week, Mark Sanchez makes $1.52 million for four weeks of the regular season, while Rodgers makes $2.02 million for four games of the regular season.

That means if the Jets win he Super Bowl, Sanchez would only make 10.6 percent of what he would normally make for four regular season weeks versus the playoff weeks. If the Packers win the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers would only get paid 7.9 percent of what he would normally make for four regular season weeks versus the playoff weeks.

Of course, much of that could be made up with one blockbuster endorsement deal.

One last note… although the winning quarterback in the Super Bowl will earn significant money from endorsements, is this true of the losing quarterback?  What about the quarterbacks that lose in the conference championships?  If the Packers or Jets lose this weekend, they will still have played as many post-season games as the team that defeats them (and appears in the Super Bowl).  But one suspects the endorsement deals for the losers this weekend aren’t really very good.  And that is even more true for the players who are not the quarterback (or other stars on offense).

– DJ

Posted in: Sports Econ