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NFL player dismisses LeBron James' 'slave mentality' comment: 'You get paid to play'

James had criticized NFL ownership

Al Bello/Getty Images

NBA superstar LeBron James turned heads last week when he criticized the NFL by accusing the league's ownership of having a "slave mentality," but NFL veteran Antonio Gates disagrees with James' characterization, according to TMZ.

Gates, who has been in the NFL for 15 years after getting signed as an undrafted free agent, made it clear that NFL players aren't slaves, and they know what they've signed up for.

"I don't know all the owners—I know my owner," Gates said. "And, my relationship with my owner has been phenomenal. And, it's sports. You know what I mean? You get paid to play. We all know what we sign up for.

"A lot of us make a really good living, man, being able to support our families at the same time. So, it is what it is."

What James said, exactly: James discussed the difference between the NBA and the NFL during an episode of his HBO show, "The Shop."

"In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality. And it's like, 'This is my team. You do what the [expletive] I tell y'all to do. Or we get rid of y'all.'

The players are who make the ship go. We make it go. Every Sunday, without Todd Gurley and without Odell Beckham Jr., without those players, those guys, there is no football. And it's the same in the NBA.

…. The difference between the NBA and the NFL, the NBA is what we believe he [a player] can be. The potential. In the NFL, it's like what can you do for me this Sunday, or this Monday or this Thursday, and if you ain't it, we moving on."

James has earned more than $200 million in NBA salary over his career, which began in 2003. Counting endorsements and other non-basketball income, he has reportedly earned more than $1 billion.

One last thing…
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