The NFL is a business and on occasion businesses try to make money. The San Francisco 49ers football team is a business as well, and surprise!, sometimes it tries to make money. Alex Smith is an employee of the 49ers, now that he has signed a contract, and he's going to do his darnedest to accumulate as much money as he possible can.
I would really like to think that in the realm of professional sports certain values like "loyalty" and "fairness" exist. That would be nice because I idolize a lot of the men who play sports; yes, this includes Alex Smith, who has been a class act for pretty much his entire career. Nobody wants to think of their idols as humans. Athletes seems so, well, superhuman in ability. They can be so easy to idolize.
When athletes sign for purely money considerations, it feels like a betrayal of the team. As fans, we get so wrapped up in our team and we view football as a hobby to such a degree that we forget it is a giant business which is predicated upon temporally bound contractual agreements. Loyalty should be exercised in that these agreements should be carried out. If Alex is guaranteed $10 million, then he should get that. But in no way are the 49ers and Mr. Smith bound to each other in loyalty until a contract is signed. And even then, Alex should be able to retire if he wants and the 49ers should be able to cut him.
Think of it this way, if you wanted to leave your job, you totally should have that right. Moreover, if a business thinks that a different employee would better serve their goals, then they should be able to fire you. Our economy is predicated upon voluntary agreements of service for monetary recompense. The 49ers should be no different.
Jumper no jumping! Jumper no jumping!
What makes this hard is thinking of our sports idols as businessmen or employees. Peyton Manning throws a football for a living. He should, without being morally questioned, seek as much money for that skill as he darn well pleases. Now, if he feels like it's worth sacrificing some money for a different location or whatever, then more power to him. Some people do that in office jobs. Maybe you want to stay in California, so you don't move across country for a promotion. That's totally reasonable. Just like it is reasonable for Carlos Rogers to sign a contract worth less than he probably could have gotten on the market because he wants to keep playing for the 49ers.
But I digress. It is unfair of us as fans of the sport to make ethical judgments because Peyton signs with the Broncos for more money than he would have gotten in his more familial Tennessee. There is nothing wrong with him trying to make more money, legally.
Moreover, there is nothing wrong with Baalke, whose job is to make the team better, trying to sign Peyton Manning. Alex Smith has no rational reason to be upset about that. Emotionally, I totally understand. That stings. But, to be frank, those emotions should play second fiddle to the recognition that the 49ers were acting totally within their rights.
And, one last point, the 49ers do not owe Smith a thing. His accomplishments last year were not without significance. I applaud him for his work and as a fan, I am truly grateful. But, he was being paid last year. Just because he had a career year does not mean that the 49ers are somehow ethically obligated to compensate him all over again with an inflated contract.
Instead they should just give me lots and lots of money. Please.