Mark Moseley's insistence that the Redskins owe him $30,000 for setting seven kicking records last season is ridiculous.
He sifted the language of his contract through a prospector's pan and, eureka, found what he believes to be $30,000 in golden incentive payments that the Redskins owe him for his extraordinary work of last season.
The Redskins, it says here, owe Moseley nothing. They paid him the agreed-to $5,000 bonus for a "most consecutive field goals" record. Look it up in the NFL record book: most consecutive field goals, Mark Moseley, Washington, 23. That's one record.
With legalistic mumbo jumbo, Moseley claims the Redskins owe him $30,000 in bonuses in accordance with contract language calling for bonuses for "each additional NFL record he sets." Moseley says he set seven records because each successive kick broke a record he had just set.
"The Redskins feel I set one record," Moseley said. "I feel I set seven."
This is an interesting concept heretofore unknown in sports. Under Moseley's Law, Joe DiMaggio wouldn't hold one hitting-streak record; when he reached 56 games, breaking Willie Keeler's 44-game record, DiMaggio would have set 12 records. Think of O.J. Simpson. With 2,003 yards rushing, O.J. would own 140 records because he went 140 yards past Jim Brown's old record.
A generous reading of the disputed clause in Moseley's contract would give him two payments of $5,000, but certainly not seven. Moseley set a single-season consecutive field goal record, and he set an overall record covering parts of two seasons. But to claim that each succeeding kick was another record is enough to give greed a bad name.
"I'm sorry Mark feels that it's necessary to pursue this matter," said team owner Jack Kent Cooke. "I would have thought he has been well-treated."
The $5,000 bonus is a piddling sum for such a feat, but Moseley likely settled on it as an afterthought because he didn't imagine breaking the record. It was debatable if Moseley would even beat out a rookie for a spot on the roster. So he had survival on his mind, not immortality and big bonus clauses.
Then Moseley became a perfect kicking machine. His 20 straight field goals last season set a record and carried the Redskins to the Super Bowl.
All for a $5,000 bonus.
In times when some baseball players are paid six-figure bonuses for keeping their weight under 210 pounds, Moseley's incentive-clause reward is laughably small. But he has only himself and his lawyer to blame. They accepted the $5,000 provision and ought to live up to the deal, just as the Redskins would have been obligated to pay Moseley his $148,000 salary (the league's highest for a kicker) even if he missed half his kicks.
To make it worse for Moseley, he also was named the league's most valuable player. His delight was unrestrained--until early in his first interview on the subject. Moseley ruefully said he didn't have an MVP-incentive clause in his contract. If you're dreaming only $5,000 worth on setting a record, you're not going to dream at all about being the MVP. No kicker ever had earned that award.
About then, Moseley must have felt like dropkicking his lawyer through the goal posts of unemployment.
Moseley loved the psychic rewards of a Super Bowl victory (he treasures the championship ring). He raked in the material rewards ($70,000 in playoff pay on top of his salary).
Sometimes that's not enough. The world's typical management-labor distrust has convinced some athletes they must grab all the money they can however they can because the owners aren't going to hand it over out of the goodness of their tycoonish hearts. This game's a business.
The Hogs were on posters, Joe Theismann was in the movies, John Riggins parlayed USFL interest into a millionaire's deal--and Mark Moseley, the league's MVP, complained that no one came around with endorsement deals for him. All he had out of the Super Bowl season (except for lovely memories and a ring and $70,000, which seems a lot) was that lousy $5,000 bonus.
So he sifted through his contract, looking for gold.
Lookee here, he might have said. It says I get $5,000 for setting a consecutive field goal record. I set it against the Giants. The next week, I kicked another one. Hmmm. Everytime I kicked a field goal, I set a record. I broke Garo Ypremian's record, then I broke mine three more times--and I set single-season records, too. Adds up to seven records, not one. So the Redskins owe me $5,000 seven times, not once.
The Redskins said no deal. So.
Anyway, Moseley now has filed a formal grievance with the NFL Management Council, seeking the extra $30,000 in a desperate grab at money he lost when he agreed to a contract with such piddling incentive clauses.
Next time, Moseley should dream big. He should dream like Rafael Ramirez of the Atlanta Braves, who led National League shortstops in errors two seasons ago. In his next contract, Ramirez insisted on a $35,000 incentive bonus if he won the Gold Glove as the league's best fielding shortstop.