Like all athletes, NFL players are quick to point out that "it's not about the money." In a world where athletes routinely choose where to play based almost exclusively on that very fact, it's a trite cliche. In the world of the NFL playoffs, though, there's actually a lot more truth to that statement.
A NFL contract only covers the regular season, meaning any money a player makes after Week 17 is paid by the league. Unlike the rest of the season, every player gets an equal share. As detailed by National Football Post, those playoff game check often mean star players are taking massive pay cuts in each game.
If the New York Giants win Super Bowl XLVI, for instance, each player will have made a total of $172,000 for winning four games. The New England Patriots, who played one fewer game, will "only" bring in $150,000 apiece for their efforts. Winning the Super Bowl, alone, pays $88,000. For someone like Tom Brady, who made $18 million this year, that means he'd make $1 million less to win the Super Bowl than he made while losing in Week 3 to the Buffalo Bills.
Of course, players aren't the only ones who stand to make money on this game. Another story at National Football Post shows how a TV audience of more than 111 million people has driven up the average price for a 30-second add to $3.5 million, allowing NBC to rake in $250 million in advertising. Estimates suggested 5 million people will buy TVs for the big game and 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed. Indianapolis, the host city, is expected to bring in $200-$250 million.
Maybe it's not just about the money for the players, but it seems to be for just about everyone else.