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A local look at SI's highest-earning athlete list

Posted by David D'Onofrio  May 15, 2013 11:59 AM

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Boston considers itself a big-market sports town -- presenting its well-stocked trophy cases as an indication of its national import -- but Sports Illustrated released its 2013 list of the 50 highest-earning athletes in American sports on Tuesday, and not a single player among them takes his paycheck from one of this area's teams.

That, however, doesn't mean the list isn't interesting to people in these parts. Here it is, in its entirety (based on total earnings from salary, winnings, bonuses, and endorsements). And here are some notes when looking at the list through a local lens:

  • There are three former Boston athletes on the list. Celtic-for-a-few-months Joe Johnson is No. 43. More interesting, though, are Adrian Gonzalez (No. 34) and Carl Crawford (No. 42), in large part because their presence here is due to the contracts they both received from the Red Sox. In a way, seeing them here makes last August's megatrade all the more remarkable, considering Boston GM Ben Cherington was able to unload all except about $12 million of not only his two biggest contracts, and two of baseball's biggest contracts, but a couple of the biggest contracts in all of American sports -- and still get stud pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa in return.
  • It's not as though the deal crippled the Dodgers' ability to spend money, however. The club gave Zack Greinke an enormous contract when he was a free-agent this winter, so despite making a paltry $20,000 in endorsements, the righty ranks 10th with an income of $29,020,000. Matt Kemp is also on the list, so the Dodgers are represented by a total of four players who they'll pay a combined $92 million in 2013.
  • Led by Kobe Bryant at No. 4, Los Angeles clubs currently employ eight of the 46 team-sport athletes. Vernon Wells would've been a ninth, but he was traded to the Yankees, giving New York a total of 10 players. Half of those are Yankees, and three of those Yankees -- Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter -- haven't played a game this season.
  • The next-best represented cities are Detroit and Philadelphia, with four each. The Lions' Calvin Johnson is the only non-baseball player among that group. Other cities with multiple athletes on the list include Miami and San Francisco, with three each, as well as Chicago and (believe it or not) Tampa, with two each.
  • The most notable absence from a Boston perspective is Tom Brady, especially considering there are two quarterbacks in the top eight -- No. 3 Drew Brees and No. 8 Peyton Manning -- and four on the list, with Matt Schaub 27th, while Eli Manning is 48th. And Brady's omission isn't because of the contract restructuring he did earlier this offseason. According to SI, for these calculations "salaries are based on current or most recently completed seasons; for instance, for NFL players the season that ended in February was used." So Brady isn't likely to appear in 2014, either, as reports indicate his salary for the upcoming season will be $1 million in addition to the $10 million bonus the Patriots will pay him.
  • The only player to make the list from the AFC East is Bills' defensive end Mario Williams. His $25 million salary helps him rank 18th. The Yankees are the only players from the AL East on the list, while Knicks Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire join Brooklyn's Johnson as the only players from the Celtics' Atlantic division.
  • Baseball is often criticized for its haves vs. have-nots system, though 11 of the 30 major-league franchises are represented on the list, including teams from Seattle (Felix Hernandez), Minnesota (Joe Mauer), and Cincinnati (Joey Votto).
  • Of the 25 baseball players on the list, 11 are pitchers. Of the eight football players, the four non-QBs are WR Johnson, DE Williams, and the Buccaneers duo of WR Vincent Jackson and LG Carl Nicks. Of the 13 basketball players, only four are bigs.
  • There are no hockey players on the list.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the only NASCAR driver on the list, though he slid from 8th last year to 49th this. His appearance is powered by an industry-leading $12 million in endorsements.
  • Of the nine highest earners, LeBron James (No. 2) and Derrick Rose (No. 7) are the only athletes younger than 34 years old. Maybe not coincidentally, six of those top nine have missed significant time due to injury (Bryant, Tiger Woods, Rose, Manning, Rodriguez) or imprisonment (No. 1 Floyd Mayweather Jr.) over the past few years.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Dave D'Onofrio follows Boston's pro players away from the field, court or ice, covering their interests and activities in the community and beyond. A Massachusetts native, once his dreams of More »

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