15 Pro Athletes Who Love the Fans More Than the Money

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15 Pro Athletes Who Love the Fans More Than the Money

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

It’s easy for sports fans to believe that their favorite professional athletes are genuine people who truly care more about the fan base and winning championships than they do about the money. Unfortunately, a majority of these sports stars don’t feel that way. In fact, for a lot of them it is all about how much cash they can earn in a given year.

I understand that playing sports for money is simply a job at its core. However, the fact is even the players that get paid the league minimum are still earning so much more cash than the average person it’s not even funny. For that reason, the players should really care about using their position in life to help those around them and care more about the fans that support them every week.

The professional athletes on this countdown all make plenty of money. The point of the slideshow is to show which athletes are willing to sacrifice portions of their paycheck in order to bring joy to their loyal fan base.

Some athletes take pay cuts in order for the organization to bring in the correct personnel to win a championship. Some will say that has nothing to do with the fans and everything to do with that player trying to win a title. With that being said, an athlete who helps bring a championship home is one of the greatest gift a player can give the fans.

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see 15 pro athletes who love the fans more than the money.

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15. Shaquille O’Neal

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

There is no denying Shaquille O’Neal’s fan base stretches farther than just the teams he played for in his career. He is a funny, entertaining and caring man who has done wonders for the community. In fact, Shaq offered to rent 400 apartments for victims of Hurricane Katrina. He also left $10 million out of his contract to sign with the Miami Heat and win a championship.

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14. Corey Hart

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First baseman Corey Hart told the Milwaukee Brewers that he is willing to take a pay cut to stay with the team instead of testing free agency. What was one of his main reasons for the generous offer? He thoroughly enjoys the fan base and the atmosphere that Milwaukee brings to the ball park every game.

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13. Joe Mauer

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The homegrown Joe Mauer wanted to play in front of his loyal fans so much that he left millions of dollars on the table to stay with the Minnesota Twins. Granted, Mauer still signed the richest contract for a catcher in MLB history, but it’s the thought that counts.

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12. Paul Pierce

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Like most professional athletes, the veteran basketball player has a massive youth fan base. Paul Pierce decided he could use the money he made playing basketball and his love for the fans in way that would promote awareness in regards to youth gangs. Also, his “The Truth on Health” foundation serves the purpose to educate kids on eating healthy and exercise.

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11. Michael Phelps

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Michael Phelps decided the best way to utilize his fame after the Beijing Olympics was to use his $1 million bonus to start up the Michael Phelps Foundation. He decided it was better to help children learn how to swim than to keep the pay check. Of course, the Olympic gold medalist made plenty of money through endorsements. Nonetheless, it was an incredible gesture that most athletes would never even think to do.

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10. Dirk Nowitzki

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Dirk Nowitzki has done plenty of charity work in the Dallas area and around the world. He has used money out of his own pocket to improve the education and health for children among other things. He also is willing to take a pay cut to give the fans a competitive team to cheer for.

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9. Brett Favre

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The former Green Bay Packers quarterback has done more charity work in the state of Wisconsin and Mississippi than most people realize. His philosophy was that he had been given a unique opportunity through his fame and fortune to give back to the adoring fans. Several teams paid Brett Favre plenty of money throughout his career, but it is no secret that he could have made way more money in the ‘90s if he left Green Bay.

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8. Ben Roethlisberger

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Ben Roethlisberger recently stated that he would rather retire than be traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers. I have to imagine the blue collar workers in Pittsburgh love the quarterback’s dedication to the fan base and team. If Roethlisberger made good on his word he would forgo over $30 million over the next two years.

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7. Tim Duncan

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Tim Duncan cut $11 million out of his salary so that the San Antonio Spurs could sign the necessary players to make a run at another championship. His heart was in the right place, but unfortunately, the Spurs lost to Miami in the NBA Finals.

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6. Jered Weaver

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Instead of making a ridiculous amount of money in free agency, starting pitcher Jered Weaver decided to take a $15 million pay cut in order for the Los Angeles Angels to have the right amount of money to bring joy back to the loyal fan base. Obviously, Weaver should have asked for more money as the Angels have been a huge disappointment since his gracious move.

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5. Dwyane Wade

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Dwyane Wade has done so many great deeds for Heat fans throughout his career. However, his most jaw-dropping move by far and away was to give up $18 million so that Miami could sign free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh. As I said before, what better way for players to show love for the fans than to bring home championships.

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4. Aaron Rodgers

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is definitely one who cares about the loyal Packer nation. Even though his playing career had a rocky start with some fans who still wanted Favre under center, Rodgers has connected with his supporters on a unique level. He has given plenty back to the community, signs autographs whenever he can and holds a very high regard for the fan base. Sure, he is the highest player in the league, and rightfully so, but he wouldn’t leave Green Bay to take on more money.

The way the Packers’ fans reacted on Monday Night Football when Rodgers walked back onto the field after he suffered a broken collarbone is all anyone needs to know about the love in the relationship.

“I will say this: This is a rough game. We put our bodies on the line; we do it because we love this game,” Rodgers told ESPN Milwaukee. “But when I walked back out on that field – I’m getting a little choked up here just thinking about it – but that was one of the top 5 moments of my career there. The reception I got from the fans was, it was, it was pretty special.”

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3. Donald Driver

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Speaking of Packer players who give back to the community. Wide receiver Donald Driver has done so much for Green Bay over the years it makes one wonder how someone so famous can be so generous. Driver easily could have continued his football career with another team that would have paid him a decent amount of money. However, Driver decided to keep his promise to the loyal fan base and retire as a Packer.

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2. Warrick Dunn

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Former running back Warrick Dunn has helped over 100 single-parent families through his “Homes for the Holidays” charity program. No one knows how much money he has spent over the years in order to put down payments on homes and ensure that they are furnished. One thing is for sure, Dunn’s love for his thousands and thousands of fans is unmatched.

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1. David Robinson

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David Robinson is one of the greatest centers to play in the NBA. However, it was his work off the court, and in retirement, that has made him a very special person. Robinson made plenty of money in his career, but the fact that he once wrote a check for $5 million to start up a college prep academy in a rough part of San Antonio is unheard of.