NFL fans have had a field day (pun not intended) since news broke (pun intended) yesterday of New York Jets linebacker IK Enemkpali punching quarterback Geno Smith. This was devastating news to Jets fans, who lost their starting quarterback for 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw, and source of amusement for fans of other NFL teams who have ridiculed the team for their lack of recent success.
IK Enemkpali and Geno Smith
However, for BoardingArea readers, our interests do not lie in whether Ryan Fitzpatrick will be a decent replacement (he won’t be). Rather, as soon as I learned that the fight between IK and Geno was over a $600 debt that Geno allegedly owed IK for “airfare/limo service” to attend a football event that IK was organizing, I immediately whether $600 covered the level of luxurious travel that many of us might assume NFL athletes to partake in.
The Alleged Cause of the Argument
For a quarterback drafted in the second round of the NFL draft, Geno Smith is handsomely paid for his services. He signed a 4-year, 5 million dollar contract in 2013, and has a salary this year of $861,328. Filing as a single taxpayer, Geno’s 2015 salary would put him in the 99.9% percentile in the United States. With this type of income, there’s no way that NFL quarterbacks ride in economy class when flying… right?
Geno Smith’s Income Percentile
IK Enemkpali Football Event Ad
Geno Smith’s reason for not being able to attend the event was because his brother was in a motorcycle accident in Miami, Florida.
Why Geno Did Not Attend
So I did the math. Let’s assume Geno chose to take Uber in both Miami and Austin as he would have access to their more upscale uberSELECT option in both cities. Estimated fares between South Beach and Miami International Airport are $43-57, and between $86-114 to get from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Pflugerville High School. On the high end, this totals $171. Multiplied by 2 (roundtrip), this equals $342, leaving us with $258 remaining to cover his airfare.
Uber Fare Estimates
This is what we know and may be able to assume:
- The event took place on a Saturday in the summer.
- He likely flew in Friday as the events started early on Saturday, and probably flew out Sunday after the event was over.
- He probably flew direct to reduce travel time.
Let’s assume that Geno and IK communicated better in the past than they do now, and booked their tickets 2 weeks in advance. The only commercial airline that flies direct from Miami to Austin is American Airlines/US Airways. Looking into the end of August, we see that the cheapest cost of a roundtrip flight between Miami and Austin using only direct flights cost $234. Almost precisely what is left after factoring in the cost of the rides to/from the airport!
Sample Airfare Costs for a Miami-Austin Roundtrip With Direct Flights
This isn’t even Economy Plus/Main Cabin Extra! And if Geno doesn’t have American Airlines status, then he has to pay for his own checked bags! So despite the fact that we all imagine that star athletes fly private jets all around the world, and sip thousand dollar bottles of champagne, it seems like Geno was relegated to coach on this journey, and might have even been limited to carry-on only!
Not All Celebrities Ride in Private Jets With Tom Brady’s Super Bowl Rings
Seeing that an NFL quarterback (for the Jets, no less!) likely planned on traveling in coach reminded me of a nifty little thread on FlyerTalk which documents celebrity sightings on American Airlines. Too bad no one was able to write “I saw Geno Smith, Economy Class – July 10” in the thread!