Record 15 NFL players among Sports Illustrated’s “Fortunate 50” top-paid athletes

NFL players are well represented on Sports Illustrated’s seventh annual list of the 50 highest-earning American athletes, which was released today on the magazine’s website.

“The NFL has its most prolific showing ever on our list: an unprecedented 15 players, thanks to a rash of contracts that pay out big in a 2010 season without a salary cap,” writes SI.com’s Jonah Friedman. Nine NFL players were on last year’s list.

Five 2009 rookies – Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford (No. 11 with $27.7 million in total income, above left), Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (No. 28, $21.5 million), St. Louis tackle Jason Smith (No. 33, $20.6 million), Kansas City defensive end Tyson Jackson (No. 42, $18.2 million) and New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (No. 48, $17.0 million) – were among the 15 NFL players on the list.

Other NFL players on the SI.com list include Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning (No. 9, $30.8 million), San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers (No. 17, $25.9 million), Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs (No. 19, $25.0 million), Washington defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (No. 20, $24.8 million), New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork (No. 38, $19.0 million) and Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall (No. 40, $18.6 million).

For the complete story and list of the “Fortunate 50,” click here.

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