Most people look at NFL players and see them as being financially secure. These seven and eight figure annual contracts. Mansions. Endorsements with some of the biggest companies the world has to offer. Luxury cars. The great night life. It’s something those on the outside are surely envious of.
But it’s important to note that there’s just a few handful of players earning that type of cash. NFL teams employ 53 players on their active roster. They have more than one handful of openings on the practice squad.
That equates to nearly 2,000 players that are employed at one time around the league. Some of these players are earning $100,000 or less per season before taxes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Bernard Reedy is one of these players. An undrafted free agent out of Toledo back in 2014, the most Reedy has earned in a single season is the $108,600 the Atlanta Falcons paid him back in 2014. Since then, he’s taken a year off from football (not voluntarily) and has found himself on the Buccaneers’ practice squad.
For Reedy, the necessity to supplement his NFL income has become paramanount. A college grad, he continues to work for Care Ride, which is a Tampa-area company that provides transportation for people in wheelchairs. At times, Reedy works eight hours per day, five days per week. He makes $11 an hour, pretty much the same that a Starbucks barista takes in before tips.
“The money in your savings is only going to last so long. I had to go out and get a job so I could continue to live,” Reedy told ESPN.com. “You want to always have something you fall back on. If you don’t work, you don’t have any more income, so it’s just decreasing. You’ve gotta go find a way to make some money.”
What’s really cool here is that Reedy has taken up a job that helps others. Sure the pay isn’t great, but it gives him a sense of accomplishment. He’s doing good in the community when he’s not on the football field.
While Reedy was signed to the Buccaneers’ practice squad last December, he continued to work for Care Ride. Essentially, the wide receiver was working two jobs. One as a receiver in the NFL, the other to help make ends meet in his personal life.
These are stories we should pay attention to next time we criticize professional sports athletes for being paid too much. On top of the hard work and dedication to the game, a vast majority of them are not better off than us. That’s the cold-hard fact of the business right now.