Athletes and their salaries are making the news often these days, CNN.com reports that international soccer star David Beckham has signed a 5-year deal worth $250 million dollars (salary + endorsements) with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The 31-year-old will be earning about $1 million a week, the highest professional athlete salary for a soccer player. Even with that large income, he falls behind golfer Tiger Woods, who reportedly earned over $97 million in 2006 (according sportsillustrated.cnn.com's list of athlete salaries and incomes, putting him in first place of the top 10 highest paid athletes.
While that may seem outrageous, debates over pro athletes AND salaries are really not that new, as mentioned on findarticles.com. Baseball great Babe Ruth reportedly earned a larger annual salary than President Hoover during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Ruth defended his $75,000 annual salary by replying, "Why not? I had a better year than (President Hoover) did." Athlete salary statistics were headlines in 1962 when Wilt Chamberlain shocked the NBA in 1962 by turning down an offer of $25,000, which was the more than highest-paid player at the time, Bob Cousey, who earned $22,500.
As Super Bowl start time nears, this seems like an opportune moment to examine pro football salaries. Of course, the big question is, “Who is the highest-paid player?” The often-disappointing Atlanta Falcons failed to make the playoffs, but their quarterback, Michael Vick had a great season. He topped all pro football salaries with an annual salary of $23.1 million.
In the world of pro football salaries, is he worth 23.1 million? Well, in 2006, Michael Vick became the only quarterback in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards. But what if we compare this football player salary to a cardiothoracic surgeon salary in the Atlanta area? How does a football player measure up to someone who saves lives? With 5-9 years of experience, a cardiothoracic surgeon salary averages out to $329,229, less than 2% of Vick’s salary!