Ask any sports-loving kid nowadays about why he wants to be an athlete. The first answer will likely be something along the lines of, “because they’re paid amazingly well.” We all live a millionaire dream, and it seems like exercising your passion is one of the best ways to make your dream a reality. It is not a hidden fact that athletes are paid 20 times more than what they would have made even a decade back. That being said, the competition in today’s world makes it so that athletes need to dedicate every aspect of their lives to their sport in order to make it pro. And with all this hard work comes the much sought after salary that fans and spectators envy.
But this isn’t where the buck stops. In the world of sports, it has been observed that athletes not only earn high salaries, but their sponsors are also ready to provide them with large figures for their talent. All this can amount to unhealthy levels of pressure, creating a recipe for disaster that often ends with more disappointment than success.
There are other reasons why athletes underperform. Sometimes inflated salaries can lead to equally inflated egos. Other times young players who seemed to have potential end up failing to meet expectations. Even athletes who come up big, setting record numbers over the course of a season, and scoring a salary to match, often don’t find it in themselves to execute a repeat performance. Whether they be one hit wonders, overrated rookies or washed up veterans, this is The Richest’s list of 10 of the most overpaid athletes in sports.
10. Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills – 2013 Earnings: $5.9 Million
28-year-old American Football defensive end, Mario Williams was the first overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He currently plays for the Buffalo Bills, drawing an annual base salary of $5.9 million. After his contract with the Houston Texas ended in 2006, Williams signed a 6-year deal with the Bills worth up to $100 million (with $50 million guaranteed). It has been deemed one of the most lucrative contracts for a defensive player in the history of NFL. Williams had 46 total tackles, 10.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in 2012, but was often bothered by a wrist injury which impacted his performance. The Bills defense ranks in 16th place among all NFL teams this season.
9. Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets – 2013 Earnings: $8.25 Million
Born in Long Beach California, Mark Sanchez is an American football quarterback who currently plays for the New York Jets. In 2009, Sanchez was selected as the second overall pick and signed a five-year contract with New York Jets worth $50 million. Currently, he earns guaranteed income of over $8 million per year. Sanchez has not played a game in 2013 as he was injured in the preseason. He underwent shoulder surgery on October 8 and is not expected to play for the rest of the season. Rookie QB Geno Smith has been named the starter in Sanchez’s place. Smith is making roughly 20 times less than Sanchez at $400,000 this year.
8. Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams – 2013 Earnings: $8.3 Million
An American Football Quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner for the St. Louis Rams, Sam Bradford has come a long way since his NFL debut. Bradford’s base salary was the fourth highest of any quarterback this season. In 2010, he was honored as first overall pick in the NFL draft, but a challenging 2011 riddled with injuries cast doubt on his potential. He only threw six touchdown passes in ten games that season and missed six games due to an ankle injury. The following year seemed to be looking up for Bradford until a torn ACL ended his season in week seven. Sammy won’t get another chance to prove he deserves his inflated salary until next season.
7. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles – 2013 Earnings: $12.5 Million
Veteran quarterback, Michael Vick plays for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. Vick was the first pick of the NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Regarded as an outstanding athlete, Vick’s foot speed, improvisational skills and his strong arm made him one of the most popular NFL players of the era. In 2004, he signed a ten-year contract with the Falcons worth $130 million. Vick was one of the best quarterbacks until 2011, but injuries hampered his 2011 and 2012 seasons. Vick has had his share of controversies, seeking bankruptcy protection in 2008 amidst financial troubles and finding himself involved in illegal dog fighting activities. After a suspension from the league and a short stint in prison, Vick sought to turn a new page with the Eagles. Despite his checkered past and questionable health, Vick was able to make $20 million in 2011. In 2013, he was estimated to have a net worth of $16 million.
6. Carlos Boozer, PF, Chicago Bulls – 2013 Earnings: $15 Million
German-born Carlos Boozer currently plays for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, he won a bronze medal followed by gold in 2008. Boozer was originally signed as a power forward for the Bulls for his strength and offensive rebounding skills. After showing a declining performance in 2011, the big man continued to be a classic case of “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane.” Boozer was signed primarily to give some rest to Derrick Rose and push the team towards another NBA title. However, his performance has been less than stellar for his healthy salary, averaging just 12.9 points in 22 playoff games in the last two seasons. He signed a five-year contract for $75 million with the team and is currently making an average of $15 million for 2013-14.
5. Carlos Zambrano, RHP, Miami Marlins – 2013 Earnings: $18 Million
Nicknamed “Big Z,” Carlos Zambrano is an Venezuelan pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. Earning an annual salary of $18 million, he is the only pitcher to have won at least 13 games per year from 2003 to 2008. Zambrano is a three-time All-Star and is well-known for winning the Silver Slugger Award three times between 2006 and 2009. However, in the past few years, Big Z’s performance has dipped considerably. In 2012 he was traded From the Chicago Cubs to the Miami Marlins in exchange for pitcher Chris Volstad. The franchise management paid $15 million of his salary just to ship Zambrano to Florida. The expectations for him after he post of a record of 7-10 with 4.49 ERA went drastically low in light of his embarrassingly high salary.
4. Chris Bosh, C, Miami Heat – 2013 Earnings: $19.1 Million
American professional Basketball player, Chris Bosh currently plays the center position for the NBA’s Miami Heat. Bosh belonged to a strong draft class which also included popular NBA sensations such as Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. He officially signed a six-year contract with the Heat in July 2012, earning $106 million over 6 years, making him one of the NBA’s top 10 highest-paid players. Unfortunately, Bosh hasn’t been able to perform to the same standards, making fans wonder if he deserves to be making as much as players like James and Wade. Bosh is making about $19.1 million in 2013-14. His total net worth has been recorded at $50 million.
3. Gilbert Arenas, G, Washington Wizards – 2013 Earnings: $22.3 Million
Considering that Gilbert Arenas is no longer even playing in the NBA, it’s amazing that he has the third-highest salary of any player for the 2013-14 season. That’s right, Arenas is making a staggering $22.3 million this year, putting him behind only Kobe Bryant and Drik Nowitzki on the NBA’s list of highest-earners. Arenas signed his huge contract with Washington despite a serious knee injury which hampered him for the rest of his NBA career. He bounced around from the Wizards to the Orlando Magic to the Memphis Grizzlies before finally signing with the Chinese Basketball Association in 2012. Arenas’s NBA career was surrounded with controversy as he allegedly brought guns into the locker room and was caught by police with an obscene amount of fireworks in his pickup truck.
2. Vernon Wells, OF, New York Yankees – 2013 Earnings: $24.6 Million
Awarded with the Silver Slugger Award, three Gold Gloves, and three All-Star appearances with the Toronto Blue Jays between 2003 and 2010, Vernon Wells has undoubtedly had his success in the MLB. However, after signing a gargantuan seven-year, $126 million contract with Toronto, he proved that his best years were in fact behind him. Wells suffered a slew of injuries soon after the deal and Toronto traded him to the Los Angeles Angels in 2011. Wells was once again traded to the New York Yankees in exchange for Kramer Sneed and Exicardo Cayones in 2013. The Yankees agreed to pay $13.9 million of the $42 million remaining on his contract. But what do the Yankees care about money?
1. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees – 2013 Earnings: $28 Million
With a total net worth of $300 million, the New York Yankees’s third baseman is one of the highest-paid baseball players with a salary at $28 million this year. In December 2007, Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year contract with New York valued at $275 million. The contract became the largest in baseball history, breaking the record of Rodriguez’s previous contract of $252 million. A-Rod began 2013 with hip surgery that would keep him out of the game until August. No sooner did he return than Rodriguez was swept up in a wave of controversy surrounding the MLB’s biogenesis scandal. He was found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs but appealed the decision. If A Rod loses his case, he could be suspended until halfway through 2015.
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