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The Arc of the NFL Salary

The average NFL salary is close to $2 million, but players were not always so well compensated. In fact, for much of football's history, players often worked secondary jobs in steel mills, on ranches or as salesmen to make ends meet. The only time a player takes a "second" job now is on TV in the hopes of getting a career once he has hung up his cleats. The high salaries were won through decades of battles with owners as well as due to football's ascension to the status of America's favorite sport. (View Highlight)

Wild, all my life I've associated national level sports with insanely high salaries, mega mansions, and god awful money management

Rival leagues often helped escalate salaries. In the 1960s, it was the AFL, followed by the WFL in the 1970s and the USFL in the 1980s. Salaries jumped due to bidding, including the famous John Brodie case where he was offered close to $750,000 to go to the AFL. He had been making $35,000 in the NFL. (View Highlight)

Game theory of salary increase happens outside the tech world of FAANG and startups too!