5-at-10: Monster money in monster sports deals, NCAA clown show, marvalous Messi

FILE - New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is introduced before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Jan. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. Barkley and the Giants settled on a contract for the star running back just in time for training camp, signing a one-year contract worth up to $11 million, a source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

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Contracts galore

The business side of sports was center stage Tuesday.

Saquon Barkley signed a one-year deal for $11 million. It's the conclusion to the revelation that running backs are being undervalued in their minds.

(Side note: That we are at a place where anyone in any sport feels "undervalued" making $11 million for one year is quite the statement. But it is where we are.)

That place in sports in terms of big money has never been more apparent.

Because Saquon's deal was just the first step on a ladder of monster deals.

Chargers QB Justin Herbert signed a five-year, $262 million extension. That's more than $52 million per year. Is Herbert really five times the football player that Barkley is? Of course not. He's just at a position that is infinitely more valuable than Barkley's.

Then there's Jaylen Brown, who signed a five-year, $304 million extension with the Boston Celtics.

Brown's deal is fully guaranteed and just slap reeeee-diculous. Look, stack the paper. Get as much as you can as often as you can because when it's done, it's done.

But is Jaylen Brown a top-20 player in the NBA? Maybe.

And he gets $60-plus million per year? Man, the NBA players union needs to hold some negotiation clinics.

Finally, there's bottomless pockets of the Saudi attempts to sportswash with a $1 billion offer to a French soccer star.

If the PIF is offering $1 billion to a kickball star, here's betting that Tiger Woods could have talked them into a billion to play in the LIV.

NCAA folly

So the NCAA is looking to Congress for ideas and uniformity across states in terms of the NIL.

OK. As with most things and Congress, good luck with that. Not sure I'd trust most of our D.C. leaders to fill my truck with gas never mind trying to navigate through those legal and ethical landmines.

Now Tommy Tuberville is wading into the NIL debate. Excellent.

But as the inept governing body of college sports looks to the inept governing body of our nation, we were reminded just how hollow the NCAA has become, regardless of who is handling the wheel.

Let's go to Ann Arbor, where Jim Harbaugh reportedly has been suspended for the first four games of the season.

Granted those four games are cupcakes for a Michigan bunch that should contend with THE Ohio State for the Big Ten's berth in the playoff.

And this is not about the debate of the recruiting rules that Harbaugh reportedly violated — stuff like paying for a recruit's sandwich — or even the reports that he repeatedly lied to the NCAA during the investigation.

This is simply the realization that major college programs simply do not care and the NCAA knows even with a new emperor, they still wearing the same clothes and swinging an ever-shrinking stick.

To that end, think back into the 2000s and recall that this Harbaugh flap is very similar to the hubbub around Bruce Pearl's demise at Tennessee. The monster difference of course was the NCAA had power then — heck Pearl got a multi-year show cause penalty after lying to the NCAA about hosting a bar-be-que at his crib — and now it's as hollow rotted stump.

A complete Mess(i)

Speaking of monster contracts — and delivering on value — but what Lionel Messi is doing for the Miami club in the MLS is downright unbelievable.

After scoring the game-winner in dramatic fashion in his debut, Messi was even better in his home opener last night.

He scored twice and assisted on two more goals in Tuesday's match.

There's being the best. There's getting paid like you're the best. And then there's delivering on monster expectations and providing a monstrous return on a monster investment.

Check. Check. And check, mate.

His feats — and feet — are so downright awe-inspiring I am planning to watch the next Inter Miami game just to see what he may do next.

This and that

— Braves played. Braves lost. (Of course we backed the Braves, which did not fare well in our picks. But we also hit the Dingers Tuesday promo — thanks Manny Machado, who went yard at plus-360 — and the Padres over the Pirates.)

— Speaking of Tuberville, he co-sponsored the Pass Act, which is the latest bill in Congress trying to reel in NIL. It has some very pro-NCAA and power program language in the guise of "regulating" NIL. The Pass Act also takes a swipe at trying to shut limit transfer powers for athletes, too.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall with an interesting look at former UT QB1 Hendon Hooker's favorite game as a Vols star.

— We discussed Elly de la Cruz's classic response to the scoreboard heckling he received Monday when he launched a 450-plus-foot homer in his second AB against the Brewers. Last night, de la Cruz struck out in his first AB and under "player trivia" before his second AB, the scoreboard read "We have no further comment at this time." Clever.

— Get well soon Bronny James, who suffered a rare cardiac arrest and was rushed to the ICU on Tuesday. He's in stable condition now reportedly.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday leans this way:

Which NBA player is shaking his head the most at Jaylen Brown's $300-plus million deal?

Which is worse for college sports, NIL or the portal?

Also, which of any number of national issues should Tuberville and his colleagues be addressing rather than spending months and months on multiple bills on NIL deals?

And which witch is best?

As for today, July 26, let's review.

On this day, Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb's record for most singles in a career.

Rose tied the record while playing for the Montreal Expos.

Sandra Bullock is 59.

Mick Jagger is 80 today. Thought he was older to be honest.

Rushmore of Rolling Stones' tunes. Go.