Sports Karma and the NFL by: Jeremy Jones

Too often we hear the old saying, “Money doesn’t automatically equal happiness.” That famous quote couldn’t be any more precise in the world of sports. Each offseason in the four major sports in America (football, NASCAR, basketball, and baseball) we see athletes who played on the same team for several years join another team. In most cases, the switch of allegiance is simply because of a pay raise.  Some athletes will go as far as jump from a championship winning team to play for the worst team in that sport (the following year) for a little more money. However, in most cases the free agency moves do not pay off. Too often athletes’ careers go downhill after they switch teams for a pay-raise. From career-ending injuries, to lack-luster performances on their new teams, most athletes suffer harsh consequences for switching teams due to monetary reasons. These harsh consequences are known as “SPORTS KARMA.” And in the National Football League (NFL) we see several of these situations occur every year.

In 2006, Wide Receiver David Givens signed a 5 year/$24 million contract to play for National Football League’s (NFL) Tennessee Titans. Givens former team the New England Patriots were the winners of the last 2 out of 3 NFL Championships. However, Givens chose to leave a championship winning team to a team to play for a team that did not even make the playoffs in the previous year. The reason for the move was because he wanted to be the #1 receiver on a team, and he wanted a bigger contract that the Patriots offered him. Unfortunately, 10 weeks into his first season as a Titan, David Givens tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). This would be a career-ending injury for the former two-time Super-Bowl Champion.

In 2008, Wide Receiver Javon Walker signed a 6 year/$55 million contract with the Oakland Raiders. Many top teams around the NFL were interested in signing Javon Walker. However, the Oakland Raiders offered Walker the most money. So he ended up signing with the team with the worst record in the National Football League from the previous year. In only two months after the 2008-2009 season began Javon Walker was sidelined for the rest of the year due to injuries. Walker was released from his contract in September of 2010(only after two years into a six-year deal). Walker has failed to make a NFL team since.

At the very beginning of the 2009 season, Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth signed a 7 year/$100 million contract with the Washington Redskins. As the anchor of the Tennessee Titan’s 4-3 defense Haynesworth led the Titans to the best regular season record in the National Football League for the previous season. The Defensive Tackle recorded the most quarterback sacks of his career with 8 ½ in the same year. The Titans had winning formula to success. The team had made the playoffs for the last three years. However, one of Albert’s main priorities for 2009 was to make as much money as possible. So this was why Haynesworth decided to leave the one of the NFL’s best teams to go to an organization that failed to make the playoffs in the previous year. Just like the two athletes mentioned before, Haynesworth decision would be a costly one for him. Haynesworth only recorded 4 sacks in 2009 and has publicly discussed his dislike for the defensive schemes the Redskins like to run.

David Givens, Javon Walker, and Albert Haynesworth once played for winning organizations. Unfortunately, all three placed themselves before the team and inspired to make the most money possible. However, there is another famous quote that goes, “What goes around comes around.” These three athletes could’ve easily stayed with their former teams and once again help lead them to the playoffs.  But they each made a selfish and ignorant decision to leave great organizations to make more money. Givens, Walker, and Haynesworth had to learn the hard way that “Money doesn’t always equal happiness.” In the end, these three athletes’ careers went downhill after making the same selfish decision. When athletes leave an organization in a bad situation to sign with another team to make more money, expect them to suffer from a harsh consequence known as “SPORTS KARMA.”


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