Baring Their Clause

The strange, twisted world of contract incentives
January 12, 2009

TRY TELLING Ryan Grant that replay is a good thing. The Packers back had an 80-yard TD run against the Lions called back on Dec. 28 when replays showed he was down after 21 yards. Losing six points was meaningless—the Pack won 31--21. But losing those 59 yards cost Grant $1.35 million. He stood to cash in if he ran for 1,250 yards and finished in the top five in the NFC in rushing. The lost yardage left him at 1,203 and in sixth place. Said Grant, who made $5.15 million, "That's the way the ball bounces." Herewith, some other strange incentive clause-and-effect situations:

Joe DiMaggio
The Yankee Clipper reportedly cost himself a $10,000 bonus when his hitting streak ended at 56 games. The money wouldn't have come from the team, though. His would-be benefactor? Heinz, which offered the cash if DiMaggio got to 57.

The Oakland A's
Perhaps the easiest clause to achieve: In 1972 owner Charlie Finley offered his players $300 if they'd grow mustaches as part of a Father's Day promotion. All 25 did, and the 'staches became a team trademark. Rollie Fingers (top) even had a clause written into his contract that he would be supplied with wax for his handlebars.

Akili Smith
The Bengals QB had a base salary of $275,000 in 2000. But if he threw for 1,600 yards it would jump to $4 million. At 1,253, the struggling Smith was benched in Game 11 in favor of journeyman Scott Mitchell, prompting speculation that the team was looking to save a buck. "Everybody knows what is going on," said teammate Damon Griffin.

Dennis Lamp
The Blue Jays were obligated to pick up Lamp's $600,000 option for 1987 if the reliever met an appearances clause. He was getting close in September when the Jays shelved him. During one 23-game stretch he didn't even warm up. The Jays claimed Lamp was ineffective; in his grievance—which he lost—Lamp pointed to his 2.70 second-half ERA. "It just goes to show, you are just a piece of meat," he said.

Curt Schilling
Boston's big-boned ace stood to make $2 million for hitting a series of weight-related clauses last year, but he agreed to drop them when a shoulder injury kept him out all season. Schilling's deal also paid him $1 million for receiving a Cy Young vote. After jokes that an unscrupulous writer could vote for Schilling (left) and the two could split the cash, it was announced that beginning in 2013, no player who stands to gain financially is eligible for a BBWAA award.

Go Figure

10
NBA coaches with 900 career wins after the Nuggets' George Karl reached the milestone with a 114-107 victory over the Raptors on New Year's Eve.

15
Division I-A players who have rushed for 2,000 yards in a season; UConn's Donald Brown became the latest, in the Huskies' International Bowl win over Buffalo.

208
First-half yards for Brown in the International Bowl.

4
Teams represented in the starting lineups for this year's NHL All-Star Game: Montreal (4 players), Anaheim (3), Chicago (3) and Pittsburgh (2).

1,713,021
All-Star votes that were received by center Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, which broke Jaromir Jagr's nine-year-old balloting record.

PHOTOFOCUS ON SPORTS/GETTY IMAGES (FINGERS) PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER (SCHILLING) PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (GRANT)GREEN PLAY An overturned call cost Grant a load of cash. PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
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