The Daily Banter: Something's Wrong With The Top-50 Paid American Athletes

Sports Illustrated released a list of the 50 highest-earning American athletes "by salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees. The average earnings of those on the list have reached an all-time high of $26.2 million (up 11 percent from '09)." The top two earners are golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Michelson; not that we care about such things.

Obviously Peyton Manning was the top earner in the NFL making $30.8 million, which ranks him ninth among American athletes. Most popular sport in the country that puts together the highest local ratings with billions in revenue from the sport and Manning is only the ninth highest paid? Matthew Stafford (11th), Eli Manning (t-13th), Phillip Rivers (17th), Terrell Suggs (19th), Albert Haynesworth (20th), Brett Favre (21st), Darrius Heyward-Bey (28th), Jason Smith (33rd), Julius Peppers (36th), Vince Wilfork (38th), DeAngelo Hall (40th), Tyson Jackson (42nd), Mark Sanchez (48th) and DeMarcus Ware (49th) round out the top-50.

Five players on that list were rookies from last season; which visualizes how much rookie contracts are exploding when a guy like Tom Brady doesn't even make the cut. What about Drew Brees? We're talking about five rookies in 2009 that were one of the highest paid players, not in the NFL, but in America and the guy that's won three Super Bowls is on the outside looking in -- though that was also largely his choice, taking a reduction in his last contract so the Patriots could sign others. Still, something isn't right about that.

NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash appeared on the Mike and Mike show. Using this list, showing rookies being among the highest paid athletes in America, Mike Greenberg asked about a rookie wage scale:

"I think the rookie wage scale would have a lot of positive advantages. Starting with making it possible to shift money from untested rookies to proven veterans and including retiree benefits."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has spoken out several times about the need for a rookie wage scale; one of several things that owners and players need to agree upon to prevent a 2011 work stoppage.

+ USC was ripped by NCAA sanctions earlier. Florida and Georgia are now under investigation. Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus attended an agent's party; the same party that North Carolina's Marvin Austin attended. I'm not going to side with the players on this one only because they should know that the strict rules in the NCAA are, well, really strict. But I have absolutely no problem with Alabama head coach Nick Saban going off on agents for putting players in that position.

"I don't think it's anything but greed that's creating it right now on behalf of the agents," Saban said. "The agents that do this, and I hate to say this, but how are they any better than a pimp? I have no respect for people who do that to young people. None. How would you feel if they did it to your child?"

"That's the only way we're going to stop this happening, because it's ridiculous and it's entrapment for young people at a very difficult time in their life," Saban said. "It's very difficult for the NCAA to control it, and it's very unfair to college football. I think we should look into doing something about that."

NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith chimed in:

"I think that any agent or contract adviser who does that, and preys upon kids like that in college, is something that we're going to deal with extremely aggressively," said Smith, a former federal prosecutor. "Frankly, God help those agents if they're found to be in violation, because I've given our players ... the green light to take the most aggressive steps that they want to take. If those steps include me or someone else in our office making a criminal referral under certain circumstances, that's what we'll do."

+ Yahoo Sports! latest team report suggests that Jerome Simpson is one of several players to watch during training camp. However, the more interesting note is:

Hot seat: Coach Marvin Lewis—It's tough to imagine a reigning NFL Coach of the Year on a hot seat, but Lewis is entering the last year of his contract and has not signed an extension. Entering his eighth year in Cincinnati, which ties him with Paul Brown and Sam Wyche for longest tenure, Lewis needs to guide the Bengals to back-to-back playoff trips for the first time in 28 years in order to pressure the Brown family to keep him on. Lewis has made plenty of changes since arriving in 2003, but the impasse in negotiations seems to be due to Lewis wanting even more control which is something that Mike Brown seems unwilling to concede.

+ There's a chance that Ed Reed, who will likely to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, might miss the entire season. However, the biggest issue seems that Reed is unhappy with the organization.

"I haven't had the support from the other side as you think has been there," Reed said. "If I don't say it now, it won't ever get said. . It's like a marriage. There are going to be disagreements.

"You got to work with that person. When it starts to get too much, you got to pull back: 'Is it worth it? or should I take a pay cut and be on another team?"

While the issue isn't completely known, it would be a safe bet that Reed wants a new contract. This bodes well for the Bengals, especially with Joe Flacco's recent comments on newly acquired backup quarterback Marc Bulger:

“Hopefully, we just all get along well,” Flacco said over the weekend. “When you have a little bit of tension in the room, it doesn’t lend to playing well. Yeah, he might bring a thing here or there that helps me out. We’ll see. It’s all about going out there, preparing during the week and having a good time doing that. Hopefully, we can do that.”

+ Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers called the police after watching an erratic driver on the highway.

In his conversation with the dispatcher, Rogers said, "The occupants appear to be either very sleepy or drunk, he's run off the road several times swerving across, they're driving on a flat tire right now."

Rogers stayed on the line with the dispatcher and continued to follow the car which he described as driving on a blown front tire. When the driver finally pulled over near the exit to Pearl Road, Rogers told the dispatcher that the driver turned off his lights. The back end of the car was sitting partially in the fast lanes of the highway.

Rogers pulled up behind them in his pickup truck and put his emergency flashing lights on to warn other drivers.

"Mr. Rogers positioned himself behind that vehicle and turned his emergency flashers on to notify other drivers that there was an emergency on the road, and I don't know what would've happened had he not done that," Middleburg Heights Police Chief John Maddox said.

Maddox believes Rogers actions that night saved lives. He drafted a letter to send to Rogers and his bosses at the Browns organization.

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