Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay has been one of the stars of the 2018 rookie class — and he wasn’t even drafted.
But on Monday night, Lindsay’s first season came to an abrupt halt when he suffered a wrist injury against the Oakland Raiders. He reportedly suffered ligament damage as well as a fracture of the scaphoid bone. Unless the the second opinion he’s seeking comes back differently, Lindsay is headed for surgery and a likely 4-6 month rehab.
And as if that weren’t bad enough, Lindsay is missing out on a possibly significant payday, particularly for an undrafted player.
No Pro Bowl, no bonus
Lindsay is the first undrafted rookie on the offensive side of the ball to make the Pro Bowl, but now he won’t get to play — and he won’t get any of the benefits, either.
Lindsay was hoping to attend the week of festivities and game, but the NFL will not do for him what it does for other players who play: all-expenses paid flight, lodging and a payday.
This year Pro Bowlers get $35,000 each if their team loses and $70,000 each if their team wins.
For Lindsay, even the $35,000 would have been a big payday: his salary this season was $540,000, and his signing bonus was just $15,000.
Better rules = better participation?
The Pro Bowl continues to lag behind the all-star games of other professional sports in terms of participation. Maybe that would change if the league loosened the purse strings and didn’t punish players for things out of their control.
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Lindsay was overjoyed to make the Pro Bowl — he called it “surreal” — and the fact that he can’t participate isn’t his fault. Why wouldn’t the league pay for him to attend the festivities, to meet young fans and serve as a league ambassador, and as corny as it may seem, the embodiment of dreaming big or what you can accomplish as an underdog?
And for that matter, why not pay players better who do take part? No, they shouldn’t get a year’s salary to play in an exhibition, but after 17 regular-season games, guys are hurting. Many higher-paid players want to get a jump on rest and recovery and/or aren’t going to risk the next season’s salary for a $35,000 check.
But the 2018 Pro Bowl had the highest ratings in four years and continues to get better ratings than other sports’ all-star games, so don’t hold your breath.
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