NFL Top Players Get Significant Multiple To Average Salary In Their States

by: James Pearce

There’s a move toward transparency when it comes to corporate salaries. Analysts calculate the multiple of the CEO’s salary to the average worker’s salary in the company. The multiple is nearly always hundreds of times greater than the average worker. Heavy scrutiny is then placed on the company for how it values its workers. The company also scrambles to find ways to reward top executives in ways that don’t show up on the salary board.

In the NFL, seriously-sized multiples between the top paid player on each team and the average salary of the states in which they play exist:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 3.06.02 PMHere are the top ten multiples along with top player salary in 2015 and 2015 average salary for state markets. Drew Brees, one of the “good guys” of the league, is paid 592 times the average salary for all workers in the state of Louisiana. Another “good guy” Peyton Manning makes 351 times the average salary of a Colorado worker. These salaries are unadjusted for taxes and inflation.

Clearly there is a serious separation between the top paid player and the average salary of the workers that pay their salary by attending games, buying NFL memorabilia and clothing, and supporting the teams through tax breaks. If we considered all these things together with salary (maybe in another article) we’d really wonder how and why it happens.

In my data study for this article, I also looked at the minimum salary for NFL players at various stages of their careers. The rookie minimum salary was at least a 6 multiple and ranged up to an 11 multiple. Even those young guys just out of college get paid way more than the average person in their team’s state.

What does this tell us and how should we react? It tells us that NFL players are paid astronomically more than the rest of us. It tells us that when we hear about CEO pay, maybe we should study the value added the CEO brings. It tells us that studying the player value could be helpful in determining what they should get paid. It tells us that we should have played football since the concussion risk assessment would likely be less than the benefit value of playing (this would be fun to look at).

Here’s a look at the entire chart of all 32 teams and how players rated:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 2.56.36 PM


State Pay Stats:

Top Paid Player:

Minimum Salaries:

James Pearce is a talented writer, markets analyst, and speaker. To secure his services or obtain rates, email:

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