On March 8th, Peyton Manning is set to make $28 million from the Indianapolis Colts, the highest amount ever paid to an NFL athlete, despite missing all of last year due to injury. It will also put him in the rarefied group of star athletes who make more than ten times the average salary in their sport, according to 24/7 Wall St’s independent analysis.
Top athletes are now paid more than ever before. In fact, even when adjusting for inflation, older salaries fail to compare to current ones. As a result, nearly all of of the highest-paid athletes in current dollars are playing or have retired in the last decade.
Still, even in earlier times — when sports teams made far less money — they paid the best players much more than others. A better way to look at athletes’ pay requires examination of all salaries since modern professional sports began. By comparing the salaries of the top-paid athletes from each era with the average salary of the sport at that time, the highest-paid players of all time can be counted. Based on an analysis of the highest salaries in the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL in the last century, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the top-paid athletes that made at least ten times the average player’s salary when they played.
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