Being a professional football player often looks like the best job ever, especially when they’re scoring a last-minute touchdown or making a game-winning sack with seconds on the clock. Big money playing contracts, commercial deals, flash cars, and mansions all add to our perceptions of this luxury lifestyle, but is being a professional football player as great as it looks?
There are 32 NFL teams in total, and each one has 53 players on their rosters, but there are many more players out there desperate to take their place. Injuries, bad luck, loss of form, and more, can see a career ended – sometimes in a matter of seconds – so for those players lucky enough to be on a team, nothing is taken for granted.
Let’s take a look at the lifestyle of today’s modern NFL football player.
Everybody talks about the money when it comes to football, and nobody is out there doing it for free; after all, they are putting their bodies on the line every week and deserve to be well compensated. Quarterbacks are:
- Usually, the highest-paid position.
- Making an average of over $7 million a year, while wide receivers are next.
- Averaging $2.8 million.
Highest-paid NFL players (Three-year average earnings)
- Aaron Rodgers – $50.2 million
- Russell Wilson – $49 million
- Kyler Murray – $46.1 million
- Deshaun Watson – $46 million
- Patrick Mahomes – $45 million
In 2017, the average NFL salary was around $2.7 million, which will have increased after another collective bargaining agreement. But remember, the top 10 quarterbacks in the league average $49.4 million, which makes that average figure misleading and means that there are plenty of players out there earning less than that.
When statistics show that the average playing career for an NFL footballer is only 3.3 years, they need to make every dollar they can in what can potentially be a very short career. But if you’re Aaron Rodgers with an estimated net worth of $200 million, Real Estate in Malibu, an ownership stake in an NBA franchise, and multiple lucrative endorsements, life is pretty good – even if the latest Super Bowl odds suggest you’re not going to get close to the trophy.
Fans love to get up close and personal with their favorite players, and the media has an insatiable appetite for news and gossip too, which means that football players, no matter where they are and what they are doing, are always in the public eye and need to act accordingly.
Players are seen as important role models for children, and their off-field behavior in today’s world of social media and 24-hour news cycles has never been more important. Mistakes are rarely forgotten and often magnified, meaning players can potentially lose their place in the team and see lucrative endorsements disappear.
One of the greatest perks of being a pro footballer is the amount of off-season downtime available, allowing players time to spend with their families and indulge in other interests. For many, including Patrick Mahomes, golf is hugely popular, providing both a competitive element and a chance to relax away from the pressure of a football.
Of course, being famous is also pretty useful when it comes to bagging some tickets to a pop concert, fashion show, boxing match, film premiere, and more. But many players also have pet projects that include charities personal to them, and time away from the game allows them to get more involved and help out.
The off-season isn’t all fun and games, though. Players need to make sure they stay fit and are ready for the start of training camp and pre-season. This involves a time-consuming and disciplined approach to all aspects of their life, from training to rest and nutrition.
The off-season gives players a chance to improve on their weaknesses, and strength training, cardio, and aerobic workouts are crucial. A player is only as good as his training, and if they aren’t doing the work, they will be found out on the field of play.
During the season, when games come thick and fast, it’s about recovery and ensuring they are mentally and physically prepared for the next match. Lots of travel – sometimes to Europe – adverse weather, and lots of games- take it out on the body and mind.
Players need to watch what they eat every day, especially in the off-season when it’s easy to put on weight or get out of shape. Efficient refueling during the season is key to helping muscle recovery and ensuring players are in peak physical condition for matches.
One of the biggest factors in any athlete’s program is rest. Often overlooked, rest is vital during the off-season as it allows the body time to fully recover from the rigors of an NFL season. It’s also important for players during the season when the body has little time to recover between matches.
With the huge financial rewards on offer, competition for the limited number of places on a team’s roster has made becoming an NFL player harder than ever before. And while we might all think we could have caught that pass or made that throw, the reality is these guys are dedicated professionals who work incredibly hard to be at the top of the game.