Alan Eagleson, the ebullient agent-attorney, fulminated last week that the Boston Bruins would just have to be "more realistic" than to offer his client, the incomparable Bobby Orr, a mere $450,000 a year to buy the rights to Bobby's hockey life. "More realistic" than $450,000 a year? Humbug. But at least such figures produce a small insight into what is and what is not realistic in the dazzling stratosphere of million-dollar sports deals.
First, Eagleson's basic complaint was not realistic—it was mere sports-page sound and fury. Orr's $200,000-a-year contract runs to the end of the 1975-76 season, and no negotiations have yet begun, no offer has yet been made. However, on to realism. The Bruins' entire gross last year was less than $5 million. To give Orr $450,000 means he would get nearly 10% of the team's gross income. No business can operate on that kind of economics—not realistically.
Bruin Managing Director Harry Sinden says the club plans to offer "every last dollar we can afford to pay Bobby" sometime next week—and it will be nowhere near $450,000 a year. In the meantime, it has been reported that the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association have offered Orr $6.5 million over five years to jump leagues. That averages out to roughly $1.3 million a year, which means the club would have to gross $13 million in order to pay Orr on the basis of 10% of gross. Unrealistic? You bet. The Fighting Saints will be lucky to accumulate one-fifth that amount in a season.
Joe Zannino is a funeral director in Baltimore and a cockfighting enthusiast. Recently he was interviewed on the subject of his beloved sport:
Q: Isn't cockfighting inhumane?
A: Cockfighters are the most humane people in the world. We all have dogs. We take better care of our dogs than anyone because we understand animals.
Q: What's the difference between those who fight dogs and those who fight chickens?
A: Fighting dogs is inhumane. Roosters have been bred to fight for thousands of years. Which is worse: To let two roosters fight that want to fight, or a fox hunt where 20 dogs run one poor fox to death? That's certainly against the fox's will.