In the above clip from a recent episode of the Discovery Channel program American Muscle, a number of NFL players are seen chatting about, among other things, how terrible Nick Swisher is (very) compared to how much money he's making with the Indians (lots), and how Swisher's contract is guaranteed under all but the most extreme circumstances.
As of 2012, the average player salaries for the four major American sports were:
- NBA, $5.15 million
- MLB, $3.2 million
- NHL, $2.4 million
- NFL, $1.9 million
Despite being the most popular sport in the country, the average player in the National Football League makes less money than the average NHL hockey player. Moreover, the average NFL salary is skewed greatly by a small number of players making an awful lot of money. Meanwhile, a professional football player enjoys the shortest average career coupled with the greatest threat of injury of any of these sports' participants.
There are many other factors to consider, of course, like the number of players in the league, the relative average skill set required to play one sport compared to the others, the pool of potential replacement players (i.e., the fungibility of players generally or at certain positions specifically), the length of the season, the relationship between player salaries and team or league profits, and so forth.