ESPN has a list of all 278 professional, major-league sports teams in the world, ranked by the average player’s salary. The list includes teams from 10 countries, playing 7 sports, totaling about 8,000 players, each of which averages 2m$ per year. Yet the first NFL team on that list, the Pittsburgh Steelers, is ranked a whopping 75th with an average of 3m$ per player per year. The last NFL team, the Cincinatti Bengals, is ranked 184th, averaging half that salary — 1.6m$ per player.
Meanwhile in soccer, which claims 7 of the 10 highest spots, salaries range from the 1st ranked Barça at 8.7m$ per player to tenth ranked Inter Milan (5.7m$/player), to dead last on the entire list – Columbus Crew with an average of 89k$. American soccer of course has no fans, so the LA Galaxy tops that subset of the list at #219, with 555k$ per player. But, there are three American teams in the top 10 so that we can at least save face: at #5, the LA Lakers (6.3m$/player), followed by NY Yankees (6.2m$/player) at #6, and the Philadelphia Phillies (5.8m$/player) in 9th place.
One thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are averages: a few star players make a lot more, and most make a lot less. Having said that, the cheapest NBA team — the 66th ranked Indiana Pacers — pay more per player (3.4m$) than the NFL’s wealthiest, the Steelers. Average baseball salaries have a lot more variance: their highest salaries are comparable to the top NBA ones, but their lowest are on par with the lowest NFL salaries. For example, the cheapest baseball team is the Oakland As, who are ranked 164th and pay 1.8m$ per player — marginally more than the aforementioned Bengals. (Incidentally, the 2011 movie Moneyball told the story of how the As did very well in the early 2000s, despite having no money, by analyzing their players using a statistical system called sabermetrics.)
So the average salary for every NBA player is higher than every NFL player, but baseball spans them both. And it makes sense that basketball players make more money, since there are fewer of them on the team. It also makes sense that baseball players make more money, since their season is longer and they play dozens and dozens of games per season instead of the 16 in the NFL. But football players get punished like in no other sport and they deserve more compensation than the soccer and basketball players that fall down and grab their shin at the drop of a hat; especially the much-ignored linebackers.
In other news, college football players are still glorified slaves who bring in millions to universities, and in return are paid absolutely nothing.
The entire list is available on ESPN’s website.