Putting Matt Forte's Contract Dispute with the Chicago Bears in Perspective

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It never ceases to amaze me how in the world of professional sports, grown men who are making millions of dollars to play a game in front of fans who are shelling out millions of dollars to see them play a game, could even possibly think of themselves as disrespected or unappreciated.

It just doesn't seem plausible to feel this way when you are being coddled at practically every turn in your life.

I will concede a few facts to professional athletes in support of their case. Their shelf life is limited, and their careers - when compared to an ordinary person - are relatively short. So yes, they do need to make their wares in a much more compressed amount of time prior to retirement.

The possibility of debilitating injury also exists, as well as permanent damage both neurologically and physically even if they do play out an entire career. These factors all definitely need to be taken into consideration when talking about the amount of money that a professional athlete needs to be paid.

What I will not concede is the tendency of some of these prima-donnas to decide if and when the terms of a contract that they signed are no longer to their liking. I'm sorry...did I just use the word "contract"?

Merriam-Webster defines the word contract as:

a : a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties; especially : one legally enforceable

b : a business arrangement for the supply of goods or services at a fixed price

I'm not sure that this definition applies to our friends in the world of professional sports. So why...why would a millionaire hold out for more money?

The reasons that are generally given are absolutely ridiculous in my estimation. "Guys playing at the same position are making more than me", "I've produced better than you expected when we first signed the agreement", "I'm just not happy with what I'm making". It just goes on and on, and the bottom line of any of these fiduciary arguments is one thing. Greed.

A perfect example of this can be seen this off-season in the NFL, and the Chicago Bears star running back, Matt Forte.

Forte came to the Bears in 2008 as a 2nd round draft choice, so he wasn't given the gift of a high-dollar initial contract or an ungodly signing bonus. He was only given a mere $3.8 million over 4 years (including a $1.5 million signing bonus, and total of $2 million guaranteed). Are you feeling weepy yet?

So now that his contract has expired - and unlike others he at least played out the entire deal - he's ready for a new long term deal. Only, the Bears had other ideas. They laid the team's "franchise tag" on Forte, which essentially means that they have the right to retain him for a 1-year contract at a price that has been pre-set in the leagues collective bargaining agreement. In this case, the franchise deal for a running back is $7.7 million. And Forte is not happy about that.

So Matt Forte has two options now. He can sign the $7.7 million tender offer and play for the Bears in a productive manner....or, he can hold out and hope that the Bears break down and offer him a long term deal. If he does choose option B, then he'll forfeit his potential pay until some sort of deal is signed, and the Bears will not have that money available in their salary cap...which means both sides stand to lose.

So let me guess this straight. You have made millions, and you stand to make millions more. But because the team you play for wants to make the smart move and only give you a very fair 1-year offer (because running backs have the shortest lifespan and highest incident of injury in the league) you want to stick your thumb on your nose at them and say "pay me"?

Do me a favor Matt Forte, and any other so-called "disrespected" players out there - check out these numbers from other professions that have just as high a risk of injury or shortened career (or even death) as you do.

Coal Mine Worker - $58,000 per year

Oil Rig Worker - $87,000 per year

Police Officer - $45,000 per year

Firefighter - $56,000 per year

Still feeling disrespected? Try looking at the teachers who helped educate you and get you to a point in your life where you even know how to sign a contract, that are only making an average of about $40,000 per year. Maybe that will put it in perspective for you.

I think it's time these athletes remember who they are, and what they are paid for. They are entertainers, pure and simple. And entertainers have typically short, and flashy careers, nearly without exception. So if you didn't plan properly or have a way to make a living other than entertaining people in a stadium or arena, then my sympathy for you is very limited indeed.

You, your endorsement deals, and your top selling jerseys wouldn't exist without the fans, and you seem to forget that and continue to disrespect them with your whining and complaining about how you'll have trouble affording the property tax on your mansion, or the insurance on your Maserati. Really? Just shut up, and play already.

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