Alabama Football: Pros and cons of big money NIL deals

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

It has been a full month now since college athletes have been able to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness, and some, like Alabama Football quarterback Bryce Young, are bringing in serious money.

Prior to even starting his first game with the Alabama Football team, Young has reportedly upwards of $800,000 in NIL deals with offers of well over a million dollars. With football season quickly approaching, I anticipate other Alabama Football players will start to rake in the big money deals as well as they begin to have breakout seasons.

With Alabama Football players bringing in more than expected, there are pros and cons to NIL deals

First, NIL deals could really put pressure on a team’s chemistry. The playing field isn’t level anymore. Egos and personal agendas could get in the way when Young is nearly a millionaire at 20 years old, and the person with the locker next to his might not have earned anything off NIL deals.

The 2020 Alabama Football team was highly praised for the team’s leadership and chemistry both on and off the field. This is what leads to their success in a season rocked by COVID-19 with “bubbles”, contact tracing, and daily testing.

Do the vast ends of the spectrum of income now alter the ability to have a cohesive team unit all working for the common cause of a National Championship? We’ll know soon.

Second, Young is now making more money than some of the lower-level assistants on the team’s staff. Saban, Golding, and O’Brien are all bringing in over $1M, but after that Young is next. How does the fact that a 20-year-old player is bringing in more money than his QB coach affect the team’s dynamic?

According to offensive lineman Javion Cohen, the deals haven’t affected Young’s focus on the field.

Clearly Young still has his priorities straight, but this might not be the case for every player. The player/coach dynamic could get blurry.

Good behavior will also become even more critical with the possibility of losing endorsements on the line. Teenagers will have to grow up quickly when they arrive on campus.

While I have full faith in Bryce Young, does a bad game mean a loss of money? Did the pressure just get even stronger? Will companies pull their endorsements if he doesn’t live up to expectations? Collegiate athletes could start feeling the hot seats themselves.

Third, the rich will keep getting richer, and the poor will keep getting poorer. You may think of this as a pro or a con depending on where your team lies on that spectrum. For Alabama Football, this is a pro.

These NIL deals will be a huge component of recruiting. The possibility of a player becoming a millionaire prior to even starting a game will be a major selling point for a lot of the best high school players looking for their collegiate home. This is a bonus for the big name schools, but it is detrimental to the smaller schools who already couldn’t afford the perks that others gave.

With all that said, I am a full believer in collegiate athletes being able to earn income off their name, image, and likeness. It always seemed outrageous that a University could sell a player’s jersey, with their name on the back of it, yet the player never saw a dime of those funds.

Similarly, the Alabama Athletics Department recorded a $16.1 million dollar profit in 2020, primarily on the backs of the athletes, yet the athletes never received any compensation for their part in that profit. Yes, athletes have always gotten perks and benefits, but they’ve never received any financial income that they could direct or save.

The NIL deals also provide a level of protection against career-ending injuries. Take Tua, for example. His hip injury could have easily been career-ending, and if so, he would have never received a dime for his lifetime of sweat that he gave to football. Had NIL deals been possible then, Tua would have already been well over a millionaire. NIL deals provide a cushion to the ever real possibility of serious injury.

Lastly, NIL deals provide assistance for players’ families back at home. Prior to NIL deals, a collegiate athlete could be on a full scholarship to college, living in great amenities with all of their needs taken care of, bringing in millions to the athletic program, all while their families could be homeless without food to put on the table.

I always think about how an NIL deal could have saved Georgia Tech football commit Bryce Gowdy‘s life. Gowdy died by suicide at the end of 2019. In an interview, his mother explained the family was experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, and Gowdy was overcome by the pressure of taking care of the family.

NIL deals allow athletes to help support their families as soon as they get to college, without the guilt of being taken care of by the University while their families are not and without the fear of an injury ending their future.

Strong dollars for former Crimson Tide player.. dark. Next

There are dynamics to be worked out. Humility and hard work will become more important than ever in the locker room. But it’s about time these athletes receive a portion of all they have given.