PHOENIX ‘ Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett unloaded on what he considers the rampant hypocrisy of the NCAA, the NFL, and commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday.
Known as a player unafraid to speak his mind, Bennett didn’t hold back on the subjects of paying college players, the long-term health impact of playing in the NFL, and his belief that Goodell is wildly overpaid.
Start with college. Bennett graduated from Texas A&M and finds it distasteful that colleges rake in the cash while athletes get nothing.
“And to say you only get a degree?” he said. “I think the NCAA should come up with some kind of plan for college athletes to receive some of the money they bring in to the school. I think my school, Texas A&M, averaged $50 million just on jersey sales. There’s ticket sales. Think about all of the things they sell. They sell numbers of guys that don’t have names on the back of their jerseys. But we all know who No. 2 is from College Station and that would be Johnny Manziel. He made so much money for the university, but the players don’t see any of it.”
Bennett thinks college players should have a certain amount of money placed in a 401k for each year they remain in college ‘ “maybe $60,000,” he said ‘ and the players can get access to the money after they graduate.
“That gives you a chance to do something special in life,” he said.
The way it work now, students-athletes are viewed as little more than disposable employees.
“You give so much to these schools and they just move on,” he said. “And of course (Michigan) can pay Jim Harbaugh $48 million, because they don’t have to pay any of the athletes. The athletes are the ones who make the schools, not the coaches. If Nick Saban doesn’t have those athletes that he has, if he doesn’t have those 5-star recruits, can you still be Alabama? The coaches don’t really matter, but the coaches are so egotistical in college, it’s actually amazing to me that so many of those guys think they’re the ones that are doing it. It’s really the players and they don’t get their just do.”
A lot of Bennett’s feelings apply to the NFL, particularly Goodell. He sees former players struggling and fears that will one day be him.
“Then you see a guy like Roger Goodell making $40, $50 million and he hasn’t even broken a sweat in this league,” Bennett said. “He’s the one getting all the money, and it’s just sad to see how human beings could be so greedy and so cruel to each other. And for him to say, ‘Well, you get a chance to play in the NFL,’ but there’s another side of things.
“It’s like being in the Army. Yeah, you get to be in the Army, yeah you get to go to college for free and yeah, you get to fight for your country, but when you come back and your leg is amputated or in the NFL you have CTE, and your family is just looking at you, was it really worth it? Is it worth it when you’re looking at your kids and dying at a young age? I don’t know. That’s a hard thing to weigh out.”
Bennett considers the NFL’s powers that be disingenuous.
“I doubt Roger Goodell would let his kids play in the NFL,” he said. “I don’t think any of the owners would let any of their kids play in the NFL, just like the people in the White House or the House of Representatives, I doubt any of them would let their kids be in the Army.”