Alabama Football: What Nick Saban has built in NFL dollars for Tide players

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

There is a number below, and for most, even Alabama Football fans, it is staggering. It is the NFL career earnings, through the 2020 season, for Saban’s 96 Crimson Tide, NFL-drafted players.

The superlatives for Nick Saban appear to have no end. Most college football fans recognize Saban as college football’s best -ever. Many do it through gritted teeth but that is just a manifestation of jealousy.

Making Saban’s acceptance more remarkable is how much he was disdained in his early Crimson Tide years. Before the start of the 2008 season, a Bleacher Report story claimed,

"Alabama is a remarkable example of a college football factory.  The hiring of Nick Saban was an act of desperation"

The author was half-right. Nick Saban has built Alabama Football into an NFL development factory. Shortly before the 2020 NFL Draft, Yardbarker published a different conclusion.

"What is certain about the event (2020 NFL Draft) is this: No one — neither NFL commissioner Roger Goodell nor Cowboys owner Jerry Jones or anyone else — will have more influence on it than Alabama head coach Nick Saban."

That influence is about more than numbers. It is as much about the quality of players Nick Saban puts in the NFL. With a small minority of exceptions, Saban’s former Alabama football players prove their professional football worth. Without belaboring the point with a list, a long list would include many former Crimson Tide stars who have become NFL stars.

Alabama Football NFL Success in Saban Era

For some historical perspective, going back to the first Draft in 1936, 391 Alabama Crimson Tide players have been drafted by the NFL or the pre-merger AFL. One of the three Crimson Tide players drafted that year was Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.

More than half of the 96 Saban-Tide players were drafted in the first two rounds. The biggest group are those chosen in the first round; a total of 33 players. In NFL Draft second rounds, another 19 former Nick Saban – Crimson Tide players have been selected.

Also impressive is the last few year’s growth in the number of players drafted. The most in one year are 12 in 2018. The count in 2017, 2019 and 2020 has been 10 each year.

Then there is the BIG number mentioned at the top of this post. The best source of actual earnings is Spotrac. Based on the site’s records, Nick Saban’s 96, former Alabama football players have earned $1,284,263,000 dollars through the 2020 season. Yes, that is more than 1.25 billion dollars. Not surprisingly, the biggest earner so far is Julio Jones at more than $125 million.

These are actual dollars paid to players by NFL teams. The numbers do not include future guaranteed payments and salaries. The numbers do not include compensation players earn from endorsements and sponsorships.

For former Alabama Football players still in the NFL, the number, north of $1.25 billion, is growing. Why any elite recruit, given the opportunity, would decline a Crimson Tide offer is hard to comprehend.

What Nick Saban has done in Tuscaloosa is almost as incomprehensible. Chris Mueller gave a fair assessment, as someone, not an Alabama football fan.

"It shouldn’t be possible to operate with the kind of metronomic consistency that Saban does at Alabama, but he consistently defies the odds. Some of the personality traits that make him so odious to some are the same ones that have fueled an unprecedented run."

Next. More on Saban's NFL Draft Factory. dark

Defying the odds is an understatement. An unprecedented run is a fact. What Alabama football fans also know is that the run is not close to being over.