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Arizona Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb: The Most Overpaid Athlete in Professional Sports History

Sports Illustrated recently published its Fortunate 50, a ranking of the fifty highest paid athletes in professional sports. The list combines athletes’ salary for the 2012 year, as well as their endorsement earnings, which gives a total figure.

For the most part, the list included the top athletes in sports.

Kobe Bryant was fourth, LeBron James fifth. Peyton Manning seventh, Derek Jeter ninth, Larry Fitzgerald tenth. You get the point.

Then you look near the bottom of the list and you see Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb as the 43rd highest paid professional athlete in the 2012 year.

The 27-year old Kevin Kolb will be making $17.5 million in 2012 salary. He won’t make any endorsement money. So his total earnings will be $17.5 million.

Just three quarterbacks are higher paid than Kolb in 2012. They would be Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Eli Manning. Those are three of the top quarterbacks in the league. Combined, they have five regular season MVP awards and five Super Bowl MVP awards. All three will wind up in the Hall of Fame one day, and Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have a legitimate case as the greatest quarterback in league history.

Now let’s look at Kevin Kolb’s resume.

He’s entering his sixth NFL season. He’s won six games as a starting quarterback in the National Football League. He’s thrown 20 career touchdown passes and 22 interceptions. His passer rating is 76.7, significantly below the league average over the past several seasons.

There is nobody in professional sports who is being made for doing less than Kolb. Nobody.

Kolb’s five-year, $63 million contract that he signed before the 2011 season should rank as arguably the worst contract in the history of professional sports. Not the worst contract ever given to a quarterback. But the worst contract in the history of professional sports. No exaggeration at all.

The 2011 season was Kolb’s first with the Cardinals and his first as a full-time starter (excluding 2010, where he was the Opening Day starter but was benched after a concussion and two quarters of hideous play against the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers). He made nine starts, winning three games, and suffering multiple injuries, including severe turf toe and concussion symptoms.

Meanwhile, his backup, John Skelton, was pretty good in limited action. He didn’t have good numbers (11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 68.9 passer rating), but he led the Cardinals to victories in five of his seven starts. All five wins were by virtue of a comeback or a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.

In his career, Skelton is a mind-boggling 7-1 in fourth quarter comeback opportunities. The 24-year old would have been a much better fit as Arizona’s starting quarterback heading into 2012 but instead the Cardinals chose to pay Kolb his $7 million roster bonus for this year, guaranteeing him at least one more season as the backup quarterback.

That amazes me. As an Eagles fan, I still laugh about the genius trade that head coach Andy Reid pulled off last July: Kolb for former Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie PLUS a second-round draft pick. That’s thievery, plain and simple.

Kolb sucked for the majority of 2011, despite having arguably the second best wide receiver in the world on his football team, and he’s going to make more money in 2012 than every football player except for Peyton Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Mario Williams, Calvin Johnson, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Arian Foster.

Look at that list. Seven players. Seven of the best players in the league. Three number one overall picks, a number two overall pick, a number three overall pick. 32 combined Pro Bowl selections.

And then you have Kevin Kolb at number eight. Higher than Aaron Rodgers. Drew Brees (for now). Ben Roethlisberger. Troy Polamalu. Ray Lewis.

I’m speechless.

Never in sports history has a player done so little to earn so much money. That makes Kevin Kolb without a doubt the most overpaid athlete in professional sports. Maybe ever.

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.