Yes, NFL players do contribute

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Curse disrespectful NFL players if you wish.

Boycott the games or don’t watch them on TV.

It’s a free country, and just as players have a right to express themselves in a manner that might make you want to sack the suckers, so you also have a right to express yourself.

But please, don’t say these guys contribute or create nothing.

A recent letter to the editor demonstrated some of the anxiety many people feel. It also was certainly correct in suggesting that an entitlement mentality often accompanies the massive paychecks and unlimited ego boosters professional athletes enjoy. However, saying “these ‘athletes’ making millions of dollars doing absolutely nothing, creating nothing, providing no jobs, adding nothing to our economy…” ignores a bigger picture.

NFL players create entertainment that Gallup polls have shown more than 60 percent of Americans enjoy. Pro football is the most popular sport in our nation, and while it’s hard to put a dollar figure on popularity, most people would agree that the games add some quality to their lives.

Numerous studies have shown that pro football teams and the revenue generated by their stadiums don’t have as profound an economic impact on their communities as might be expected, especially considering the revenue generated and the value of these teams. The Seattle Seahawks, for example, are valued by Forbes at $2.425 billion — and they’re merely the 17th most valuable NFL franchise. (The Dallas Cowboys, at $4.8 billion, are No. 1.)

However, the NFL directly and indirectly creates thousands of good jobs nationally, from the players and coaching staffs and administrative personnel to the networks and advertising companies that capitalize on their product and the industry that has grown around producing and selling NFL merchandise to millions of consumers.

As for doing absolutely nothing, NFL players put their health on the line when they step on the field. The proliferation of debilitating physical and mental injuries, particularly related to concussions, suggests that these guys are getting paid millions for accepting such high risk and for possessing qualities most of us can only imagine. Courage is certainly one of them.

Focus on protests overlooks much good routinely dispensed by individual players and the league itself. From rookie Deshaun Watson donating his first paycheck to three Houston Texans cafeteria workers affected by Hurricane Harvey to the NFL Foundation donating $370 million to charities and youth football programs since 1973, goodwill is rampant. The positives can be hard to see, though, when you’re looking only at the sidelines.

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