Kicker Mark Moseley, the National Football League's most valuable player last season, has filed a formal grievance against the Washington Redskins to collect $30,000 in bonus payments he feels he earned last year, but has not yet received.
The grievance applies to an incentive clause in Moseley's contract, which notes that Moseley will receive a bonus "for each additional NFL record he sets" in the 1982 season. Among five subclauses was a $5,000 bonus for "most consecutive field goals."
Herein lies the point of contention:
In 1982, Moseley converted his first 20 field goals, thereby breaking the previous NFL single-season mark of 16. Since Moseley also converted his final three field goals of the previous year, his 23 consecutive field goals overall broke the previous league record of 20 in a row.
The Redskins say Moseley broke the one NFL record last season for "most consecutive field goals" and paid him his $5,000 bonus.
Moseley says each time he bettered his own record with an additional field goal, he had set one more "additional NFL record." By Moseley's interpretation, he therefore set four different NFL single-season records and three different NFL records for consecutive field goals.
Consequently, Moseley feels he is entitled to $35,000 in bonus payments, for breaking seven different "most consecutive field goals" league records.
"The Redskins feel I set one record. I feel I set seven," said Moseley, 35, entering his 12th NFL season. Moseley's $148,000 base salary last year was highest in the league among kickers. "I don't want to cause any trouble. I'm not a troublemaker. I've always worked hard and I feel very loyal to the Redskins . . . But I feel I have a legitimate clause in my contract."
Presenting the Redskins' view, Lawrence Lucchino, team general counsel, said today, "The club's position is that Mark is unentitled to the bonus payments that the grievance requests. His lawyer's reading of the contract goes far beyond the letter as well as the spirit of the agreement. We regret the dispute has developed, but we expect it can be resolved amicably."
"The (contract) language does say 'for each additional record.' It does not say 'If he sets one of the following records," said Dick Berthelsen, counsel for the NFL Players Association, who is representing Moseley. "When Mark kicked his 17th through 23rd field goal in a row, he was each time breaking an additional NFL record . . . If the team or anyone is to contend that the (contract) language is vague, it would seem the vagueness could be resolved in the player's favor if that player had been the league's most valuable player."
Berthelsen said he filed the grievance with the Redskins, by telex, on July 22. He said that, according to procedure defined in the new collective bargaining agreement, the Redskins had one week to reply, but have not yet done so.
(Lucchino said yesterday the next step in the case is likely to be a rejection of Moseley's grievance by the NFL Management Council, on behalf of the Redskins.)
Next, Berthelsen said, a representative of both the players union and the NFL Mangement Council would begin a "fact-finding mission." The findings of each side, he said, then would be referred to the Player-Club Relations Committee (PCRC), which next meets this month.
If resolution still is not reached, Berthelsen said, the case then would go to arbitration, where Sam Kagel, a West Coast lawyer who has served as arbitrator in past league cases, would hear it or designate the case to someone else.
"This is not something that Mark wanted to make a big public issue out of," Berthelsen said. "A grievance was filed only out of necessity . . . Item five (in the subclauses) says 'most consecutive field goals.' Certainly, that could be most consecutive field goals overall and most consecutive field goals in a season and Mark broke those records a number of times each."
"The only way to keep either side from feeling shafted, is to take this to a neutral arbitrator," Moseley said. "That way there will be no hard feelings on either side."