It’s late June and several NFL players are taking to the field at the Rose Bowl. No, they’re not practicing in 90-degree weather today—they’re here on behalf of adidas to model and test out some of the brand’s newest equipment. The group ranges from veterans like Von Miller and Adrian Peterson, who’ve won Super Bowls and MVPs, to players like Artie Burns and Laquon Treadwell, who just got their first taste of NFL minicamp a few weeks prior.
Each player is accompanied by their publicist who keeps one eye on the shoot and the other on their iPhones. The athletes themselves are relaxed and enjoying the on-set DJ who is spinning a mix of current and old-school hip-hop, from Future to A Tribe Called Quest. The photographer allows each of them to show a bit of their personality while also repping for the brand, some flash fang-toothed gold grills while others throw up the “three stripes.” Each player seems to be truly enjoying themselves. The clichéd millionaire athlete egos that are seen at some brand events have been left at home. In between posing for the cameras and having some catered lunch, we asked about the player stereotypes that irk them the most.
From denouncing claims that they’re all arrogant to letting you know why their jobs aren’t easy, these NFL players sound off on the biggest misconceptions of being a professional football player.
It’s Easy Being an NFL Player
The average American makes about $44,000 per year going to a job they more or less hate as opposed to the average $2 million in salary a NFL player rakes in all for playing a game many claim they’d play for free. Most workers get two weeks vacation vs. the roughly six months—between the end of playoffs and beginning of training camp—for NFL players. So other than having your body pummeled 16 times a year, NFL players are living the life, right? Adrian Peterson and Von Miller want you to know that not how it works.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson: “Oh, you guys play football for a living, it’s easy. You’re doing what you love.” That’s true, but they don’t understand or see the grind of the summer, the offseason. The time away from your family during OTAs [Organized Team Activities], minicamp and training camp. Even during the season when you’re on the road, you’re around coaches and these players more than you’re around your family in a full calendar year. People think that it comes easy. They say, “You’re getting paid a lot of money to play football so don’t complain about anything.”
Not everyone is a pro. People think that in pro sports everyone in the locker room is on another level mentally and that’s not the case.
Broncos LB Von Miller: Not everyone is a pro. People think that in pro sports everyone in the locker room is on another level mentally and that’s not the case. That we’re all pros just because we play in the National Football League, but being a pro goes beyond what goes on during the season. It’s a lifestyle, it’s a habit. You see people during the season who are pros because they have to go to work, be there on time, but what you do after that makes you a professional. Taking care of your body during the offseason. Working out everyday, even though you don’t have to during the off-season. People ask me all the time, “You’re working out in the off-season?” And I’m like, “I’m a pro, it’s a lifestyle.” They don’t know all the work that’s put in to get to this level. It’s a 24/7 job.
They’re All Arrogant
Referring to themselves in the third person, throwing teammates under the bus, flaunting their wealth on social media, running afoul of the law, and the women… Those are just some of the stereotypes NFL players fight on a regular basis. Despite what Ballers might want you to believe, not every player suiting up on Sundays is a narcissistic diva.
Browns QB Robert Griffin III: The bad apples represent everybody. The two percent represent the 98 percent. Not every player is an asshole.
Not every player is an asshole.
Bills WR Sammy Watkins: A lot of people think we’re arrogant. It’s not that, we’re in a different world and you have to learn how to protect yourself from different things. Whether it’s family members or friends, you got to learn who’s for you and who’s not. Learn how to be around the right people rather than the kids you grew up with who may be on the wrong thing. You have to separate yourself sometimes.
Chiefs CB Marcus Peters: They say we’re all the same but we’re all different. People handle their business in certain ways for a reason. We have different personalities. You got the assholes, you got all that shit. Everyone is different.
Chiefs S Eric Berry: People outside of the game forget that we’re human. It’s OK to come up and talk to us. Even if you had a bad or good experience with one player, just understand that we’re all people. You have those same good and bad experiences with all types of people.
Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes we get caught up in all the attention and everyone praising us just because of the things we do on the field, but at the end of the day it’s about what you do in life. I think the more that we understand that, the more we’ll continue to grow as a group.
They’re All Millionaires
According to Sports Illustrated, nearly 80 percent of retired NFL players go broke. How can athletes who make millions each year go broke? Well, as Griffin points out, not everyone in the NFL is a millionaire. The minimum NFL salary for 2016 is $450,000 and contracts famously are not fully guaranteed. Griffin would love it if NFL fans knew not everyone is swimming in dough and if more players knew how to better manage their money.
Robert Griffin III: Many people think we’re all millionaires. Not every NFL player is a millionaire There’s this misconception that every guy who dons an NFL helmet is now the richest guy in the world. That gets to players because they begin to think the same thing. They don’t know about taxes. They don’t know how much money the government or the IRS is going to take from them. They sign a contract and think, “I’m ballin’ because I got a four-year, $2.5 million deal.” If you do the math, you’re not making anywhere near a million dollars a year. We can help our young guys save their money, so that if they don’t play that past that first contract, they will still have what it takes to make it in life.