My 1975 Contract with The Colts

Dec 17, 2012

Here’s something a little lighter to start the week.
Dave Pear All-Pro RaidersI was going through more of my old files and ran across my original signing contract with the Baltimore Colts back in 1975. My first NFL contract was for 3 years: 1975 for $30,000; 1976 for $40,000; 1977 for $50,000. They also included a $30,000 signing bonus (!) over 3 years ($20,000 upon signing in 1975 and an additional $5,000 in 1976 and in 1977). I was subsequently traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then Hugh Culverhouse traded me off to the Oakland Raiders in 1979 after I had the nerve to ask for a raise! I played for two years with a broken neck with the Raiders when we won Super Bowl XV as the wild card team against the Eagles (Raiders 27 – Eagles 10). I was released by Al Davis after that year (more like kicked to the curb!). And yes – that’s a Riddell Helmet I’m wearing in my Topps card!
Since then, my family has gone through over $600,000 of our own money for my ongoing football-related medical expenses and surgeries with absolutely no reimbursement from the NFL and its various plans (other than the equivalent of two seat cushions and a $5.00 co-pay they sent me after my first hip surgery as part of their fantastic hip replacement program - click HERE to read about it.)
We uploaded a copy of my first NFL contract to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it available for downloading and printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close):
Dave Pear 1975 Baltimore Colts Contract

14 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Frederick "Rick" Hayes
    December 17th, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Rick Hayes

    Aloha, Dave:

    I enjoyed “perusing” your 1975 contract. I still have mine for review also. Obviously the scouts, or management had slotting sheets to set their figures in the allotted open spaces. My 1974 contract was for $28,000. With the exact same bonus language. I recall when I asked for language in my contract to add injury protection provisions, I was told specifically, “any language or changes to the contract would make it void and would be rejected by the New York League office!” What BS was that!!! THEY were allowed to freely negotiate the bonus language! In my situation, the scout had arranged a big production with his local newspaper sports reporter “boys” present for photos and an article. My legal representation was a glorified fan and groupie.

    What I most like about your posting is your Topps card. You look like you could have starred with Belushi and Akyroyd in “The Coneheads“! Typical professional equipment manager’s quality fitting, right? Somehow I was advised – because I couldn’t have been smart enough to think of it on my own – to take our fellow UW helmets [thank you, Harry, the original inventor of the double chin strap] to the NFL for re-painting due to his superior effort on fitting our helmets for protection! Although it didn’t make any difference in my case!

    Aloha, bra.
    Rick Hayes
    L.A. Rams 1974
    UW Huskies 1969-1973
    UW Huskies

  2. Bob Avellini
    December 18th, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Bob Avellini

    My original 1975 contract with the Chicago Bears was for $27,000 the first year and $32,000 the second. It included a $15,000 signing bonus.

    Be thankful you didn’t play for George Halas!

    Bob Avellini
    Chicago Bears & New York Jets
    1975 – 1984

  3. Michael C. McCoy
    December 19th, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Mike C. McCoy

    This information is what the public needs to know. Most still think all players were paid large sums of money.

    Maybe now Drew Brees might understand that the older players did not “blow” their money. There was none.

    Mike McCoy
    Green Bay Packers
    1976 – 1983

  4. Roger L. Brown
    December 19th, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Roger Brown

    You guys made big money! My contract in 1960 was for $8,000.00 and a $300.00 Signing Bonus from the Detroit Lions!

    Roger L. Brown
    Detroit Lions, LA Rams
    1960 – 1969

  5. Lou Piccone
    December 19th, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Lou Piccone

    Well, fellas since we’re comparing – after playing 2 years in the Simi’s for $50.00 a ball game(did you see the decimal pt.) and then in 1974 I made the minimum of $15,000, led the League in KO Return Yardage for $2K and got a $2K signing bonus. Then the second year I made “the MOVE” – I walked out of camp because of what their offer was and didn’t quite understand what they could do to you. Played out my option and was fined $1,500 for walking out! So I had to play my second year for $12,900 because they made me play for 90% of base MINUS bonus and incentives. But I had ‘em all the time: They couldn’t intimidate me because I’d already played in the minors and this was the PRO’s!

    Only a guy like John Riggins could pull that stunt off. He sat out a year and came back with Washington and got a $1 million dollar contract! (Don’t quote me on that but I think so!)

    Anyway, I still have my first contract somewhere too. Oh – and by the way… I got a game check for $25.38 and I remember my teammates bought me dinner that night in St Louis ’cause I couldn’t even afford to eat…

    So, Drew – we certainly squandered all our money!

    That year, the Jets had the highest-paid ballplayer in the League in Joe Willie and the lowest-paid ball player: Guess who?

    Lou Piccone
    New York Jets 74-76
    Buffalo Bills 77-83

  6. Charlie Lee
    December 19th, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Charlie Lee

    After reading these posts, I am almost embarrassed to say that I signed as a 1976 free agent with the San Francisco 49ers as a placekicker/punter and my base salary was $45,000 and my signing bonus was $9,000 (which was more than my 7th round draft pick roommate).

    Charlie Lee
    San Francisco 49ers

  7. Tom Beer
    December 20th, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    Tom Beer

    How can retired players ever forget the trepidation of negotiating your own contract in the era before agents? You were virtually held captive by GM’s with their “take it or leave it” attitudes. With no free agency and 7 fewer franchises, our bargaining chips were meager at best. Getting a $1000 to $2000 raise was considered a successful negotiation!

    Tom Beer
    Denver Broncos, New England Patriots
    1967 – 1973

  8. Lou Piccone
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Lou Piccone

    Hey Tom,

    You have to remember that to become a free agent and have the ability to negotiate anything you had to sit out a year or do what I did and play for 90% of your base contract which is an Anti-Trust Violation. So you had to make a choice to maximize your earning potential in a very short career (3.4 years) at that time or sit out a year; and not many could do that. That’s what we did for these kids today: De-certified, challenged the contract in Supreme Court by filing individual lawsuits and winning. And then they screwed us Pre-93 guys. Now that’s getting rewarded for your efforts again!

    Remember that slogan on our Union cards: Past Present and Future? It should read Past Present and Future ____ing! You fill in the blanks!

    I came in as a Scab, went out as an Executive Committee Member for the NFLPA. And my reward for the thankless job at that time – which should have been only for First Round Picks – was being traded injured and then being let go by the team that traded me and never receiving the 2 best contracts. I was forced to file a grievance which I eventually won 3 years later. However, in the meantime I lost everything that I had been working on. I was all in with my businesses: Land Development, Logging and Home Construction – Home, Auto and Land (400 Acres). So as far as trying to transition – and all I ever did was play downright hard-nosed, get after it, play everything a guy my size could play. What was supposed to happen? I should have been returned to the team that traded me, paid my contract, given a remedy for my injuries and then a decision was to be made after a possible comeback. I don’t know about the rest of the Player Reps but what they did to me sure was illegal. But because of the CBA we couldn’t sue them individually and the only remedy was the Grievance Process where I won the battle and lost the war! I never really knew what that last statement meant until it actually happened to me.

    Has that ever happened to you, DREW?

    Lou Piccone
    NY Jets – 74-76
    Buffalo Bills – 77-83

  9. John Hogan
    December 20th, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    John Hogan

    I always try to spread the word that you guys needed to have off-season jobs to pay the bills – most fans today have no idea. Perhaps the worst part of being paid so little is the price you (and your families) paid with your bodies and minds, which limited you in what you could do and earn after you left the League. People are always blown away when they hear Dave has put out more money for medical bills than he made playing football and I’m sure he’s not alone in that.

    And Lou, as a life long Bills fan – and proud to be your friend – I wish I knew you then because I would have been delighted to buy your dinner!

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  10. Doug Beaudoin
    December 22nd, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Doug Beaudoin

    I enjoyed reading your post, Lou. And if I remember correctly, you caught a touchdown pass on me that I didn’t think you got in the end zone but resulted in a win for your Bills in Foxboro.

    I was a 7th or 9th-round pick of the Pats. Can’t remember as my memory isn’t what it used to be but I do recall paying an agent 10 percent to negotiate my first contact and get me $22,000. Exactly 10 percent over the minimum salary at the time.

    When you have a wife and kids, it’s tough to squander 20 grand, Drew.

    Doug Beaudoin
    NFL: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers
    1976 – 1982
    USFL: Tampa Bay Bandits
    1983 – 1986

  11. John Reaves
    December 25th, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    John Reaves

    You were one of the first great Nose Guards in the NFL in the 3 – 4 Defense with Leroy Selmon & Bill Kollar @ End. Bucs!

    Kollar & I were teammates in ’75 with the Bengals. Great guy!

    John Reaves
    Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals
    Houston Oilers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    1973 – 1978, 1981, 1987

  12. Sharon Hawkins
    December 25th, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Sharon Hawkins

    Hey Dave,

    You were stylin’! Wayne’s first contract with the Raiders was for $6,000!!!

    Sharon Hawkins
    on behalf of Wayne
    Oakland Raiders
    Wayne Hawkins - Oakland Raiders

  13. Drew Mahalic
    December 25th, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Drew Mahalic

    Thanks for sharing, Dave.

    Our contracts were almost identical in 1975! Have a great holiday and hopefully we’ll all be more fairly compensated in the future!

    Drew Mahalic
    CEO, Oregon Sports Authority
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1975 – 1978

  14. Lou Piccone
    December 26th, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Lou Piccone

    Hey Doug,

    Your memory is right on! I did catch that ball and if I’m correct, it might have been cone coverage with you and (?) – drawing a blank on the other DB. You sure got the big raise with the minimum going from $15K to $20K after the ’74 Strike!

    These guys today just don’t get it and the NFLPA – as Idi a-Gene said – didn’t represent us. Just the active players. He sure sold us on that Past, Present and Future BS…

    There are only a couple of fronts left for us to make up any distance and the reality of Lie, Deny and Hope They Die strategy employed by the PA and the Owners comes true little by little each year. Take care my friend and may God watch over your family and the families of the Retired Players forgotten by Drewie Lewis and the Newbies. :-)

    Lou Piccone
    New York Jets 74-76
    Buffalo Bills 77-83