Recently, Minnesota Vikings (NFL) wide receiver, Troy Williamson missed a game against the San Diego Chargers in order to attend the funeral of his maternal grandmother, who played a big role in raising him. I learned of the situation, and the fact that Vikings management had docked Williamson his game check of $25,588 while catching a few minutes of the Mike & Mike show (ESPN2) Friday morning. Co-host, Mike Golic posed the question to his on-air partner, Mike Greenberg, and their listener audience, “Is that fair?”
Not being aware of Williamson’s NFL player contract, team policies, or precedents, I don’t know whether it’s fair or not. But I do know this – if the Vikings are trying to develop and motivate a young player they took as a 1st round pick in the 2005 player draft, they’ve sure got a funny way of going about it.
Before going further, let’s establish that nobody should be losing sleep over the fact that a guy who stands to make about $500,000 for nine months of work is having his pay cut by what amounts to about 5%. If management feels he isn’t playing up to his potential, they should trade him or cut him from the roster outright. If he’s not giving his best effort, they should fine him. But one thing you don’t do to someone (anyone) on your team is kick them when they are down, even if the rules say you have the right to do so.
This issue isn’t about money; it’s about respect and leadership, things that have a lot to do with motivation, and ultimately performance. Good leaders are tough, demanding, and can be difficult (even impossible) at times. But they aren’t stupid. They realize that whenever we ask someone to go the extra mile or take one for the team, their brain does some subconscious calculus based in no small part on how they’ve been treated in the past when the shoe was on the other foot. I can promise you that in Troy Williamson’s case, one of those factors will be how he was treated when he had to bury his grandmother. So, someday when he’s going over the middle on a pass route, and he knows that a defensive back is going to take his head off the instant the ball touches his hands, his brain will scream at him to let it go because if he gets hurt on the play, his future prospects will be diminished, and who knows, the team may not pay for his rehab either. Next play – 4th and long.
At the end of the day, the work we do and the arrangements we make for payment in exchange for that work are essentially a contractual matter. I do this, you do that. How well we do that work, and how much of our discretionary effort we put into it is another kind of matter… it’s personal.
Your comments as always are welcome.