David Hoppe

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:: T.Y. Hiltonís big deal

by David Hoppe

Three cheers for T.Y. Hilton.

The Colts’ receiver just won himself a big payday, with a new contract that could be worth up to $65 million, with $39 million guaranteed. Hilton’s annual salary will total $13 million.

Apparently Hilton’s teammates were thrilled by this news. According to Star sportswriter Greg Doyel, who got to see some of the players’ tweets, the deal ratcheted up the energy level in the Colts lockeroom.

Hilton reportedly felt entitled to a deal. He’s emerged as the Colts top pass receiver, with 82 catches last season for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns. More to the point, though, were deals offered pass receivers with teams in Denver and Dallas that Hilton considers his peers. After they each got deals worth around $14 million a year, Hilton wanted the Colts to get with the going rate. Had the team failed to do so — to show T.Y. how much it valued him — he would undoubtedly have taken his services somewhere else. Somewhere that would have paid him more like what he thought he was worth.

That’s pro football. The paydays for certain players, the marquee guys, are stratospheric because those players attract millions of eyeballs and generate overflowing streams of revenue.

In exchange, a player like T.Y. Hilton gets a fortune that, if he’s halfway smart, will keep his family in the one percent for several generations.

Of course, T.Y. will, in all likelihood be walking like a 70-year-old when he’s 45, and quite possibly forgetting the way home from the steakhouse when he’s in his fifties. A football player’s contract is, in the end, a merciless bargain. Given all the money sloshing around in the NFL reservoir, T.Y. is right to get as much as he can as soon as he can.

But still, can you even imagine what $13 million might buy?

Take Michigan City, Indiana, the town where I live. Earlier this summer the mayor here had the unpleasant chore of telling the city council that, due to a tax shortfall and property tax recalibration, the local budget was $5.8 million in the red. Ever since then, the city has been looking for ways to cut costs. City workers are losing their jobs. The Sanitary District might have to lay-off 15 of its 22 drivers; the police department will have six less cops next year. They might have to close the Senior Center and the Zoo.

Meanwhile, the on-going work of making Michigan City a better place continues. It’ll cost $650,000 to finally fix the storm sewers that have been overflowing into peoples’ homes in one southside neighborhood. It’s going to take $140,000 for the Parks Department to cut down trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.

All told, putting Michigan City’s budget back on an even keel — saving jobs and services — taking care of those drainage issues and cutting down dead trees comes to a grand total of $6,590,000.

That’s a lot of money in Michigan City. It’s just a little more than half of what T.Y. Hilton will make catching footballs in a single season.