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Since 1958, the NFL players have received an enormous boost in their pay checks

1950’s were the good ole days.  While I wasn’t alive back then, I talked to my Father and my family about the 50’s and it really seemed like a time of having fun, hard work and setting an example for your children.  Over the years, many of those motives have changed, and now everything has become about money, status and character.  Well not only have the times changed, the finances of football players have also changed.  

Did you know back in 1957, the NFL minimum wage was $5,000; More than 60% of the league worked in the off-season? That is a pretty wild statistic since in today’s football a practice squad member makes way more. Practice squad players earn significantly less than players on the active roster, but they still take home a solid weekly paycheck. NFL practice squad players make a minimum of $6,000 per week they are on the practice squad. There is no limit to how much a team can pay a player on the practice squad. Some will offer a higher weekly salary in order to entice better players to sign, although the practice squad contracts do count against the salary cap.

That is more than the entire salary of a player back in the 50’s. Ron Waller, a former Saint Louis Rams running back, went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie running back, although he was much more than that in an era of 33-man rosters and 12-game seasons. Waller rushed for 716 yards and seven touchdowns, caught 24 passes, returned 14 punts and averaged better than 27 yards on his 17 kick returns. After a good season Waller wanted a pay raise, and went to Pete Rozelle who was the GM to ask him for a better check.  This was his response. 

“I went in to management — we didn’t have agents back in those days — and told them I wanted $15,000 for my second-year contract,” said Waller, who had earned $8,000 in salary with a $1,000 bonus as the 15th player chosen in the 1955 draft. “And the general manager, who was Pete Rozelle, believe it or not, said, ‘Son, you gotta be in the league a long time before you ever make $15,000.”

I don’t know about you, but 15,000 dollars is pretty cheap compared to the 126 million dollar deal Colin Kaepernick just landed.  What do you think, Are players paid way too much? 

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at

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