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“Smash for Cash” video shows that pay-for-performance was accepted in 1996


On Thursday, the NFLPA mentioned in a court filing an ESPN segment from 1996 titled “Smash for Cash.” PFT has obtained a copy of the video, a feature from Andrea Kremer included in the extended NFL Countdown that aired on the day of Super Bowl XXXI.

Here’s the full transcript of the segment seven-minute segment, which featured a variety of players from separate interviews that had been conducted.

Andrea Kremer: “Many players around the league earn bonus money by virtue of their achievements. But it’s not usually courtesy of their own teammates. But around the league, there’s a little-known but very popular incentive program players call ‘Smash for Cash.’”

Reggie White: “We have guys get interceptions, fumbles. I came out with like nine thousand and some dollars I had to pay out, because I was paying $500 each big play.”

Kremer: “‘Smash for Cash,’ giving cash bonuses for big plays and hits made during a game. Teams used to pay them money, but now that’s a violation of the salary cap. So players contribute their own money. But when the pot ran dry last year in Green Bay, Reggie White established his own incentive program, much to the dismay of his wife.”

White: “I went home and told her, I said, ‘Sarah, can you write me a check for like $9,500.’ ‘What for?’ I said, ‘Well, I promised I’d pay guys $500 apiece if they made big hits.’ ‘Did anyone else do it with you?’ ‘No.’ ‘No?’!”

Troy Vincent: “You know, everyone likes money.”

Lawrence Taylor: “There is a dollar figure on everything you do in the game of football.”

Jeff Lageman: “We create pots in our defensive line room of who gets the first sack of the game.”

Cris Dishman: “If you knock someone completely off their feet and they land on their butt first. That’s the big hit pot.”

Gary Plummer: “It could mean $300 or $400 for a sack. It could mean $500 or $600 for an interception of a caused fumbled.”

Cris Dishman: “In one week you can win up to $1,000.”

Alfred Williams: “These are just individual things that guys just challenge each other with. It happens all the time in every place that I’ve played in.”

Andrea Kremer, to Ken Norton: “Do guys take it seriously?”

Norton: “No question about it. That’s $500. That’s untaxed. I mean, that’s pretty good.”

Andrea Kremer: “Different teams have different rules. For example, rather than create a pot, Eagle defensive backs and linebackers have to pay each other when they make a big play.”

Vincent: “Game day is $50 [per player] for an interception, $100 for a touchdown. . . .”

Kremer: “Sometimes before there’s a pot, there’s a concept, like the Beaver.”

Lageman: “In New York we had this huge emphasis on caused fumbles, and what we had was [a] thing called ‘the Beaver.’ Not only did you get a pot from the players if you caused a fumble, which is a ‘Beaver,’ but you also got to carry ‘the Beaver’ for a week, which was a stuffed animal on a rope. Beaver, as you know, I don’t know if you know or not, if you don’t watch Discovery it’s the most diligent worker of the animal kingdom. And so we said to cause fumbles you’ve got to be a diligent worker and you’ve got to focus in on it.”

Andrea Kremer: “Pete Carroll began this concept with the Jets, and brought it with him to San Francisco.”

Pete Carroll: “The beaver has always been known as the most diligent worker in the animal kingdom.”

Ken Norton: “The beaver is the hardest working animal in the kingdom.”

Gary Plummer, to Norton: “In the animal kingdom. The most diligent, hard-working animal in the animal kingdom.”

Greg Robinson: “From everything I understand, just going back to my schooldays, a beaver is known as the most diligent worker in the animal kingdom, noted for his ingenuity.”

Andrea Kremer: “Greg Robinson was Pete Carroll’s defensive coordinator in New York, before taking the same job with the Broncos. And although his definition of the beaver sounds strangely familiar, Robinson denies using a stuffed animal as a motivational technique in Denver.”

Kremer (watching tape with Robinson): “What do you use this for?

Greg Robinson: “Use this for? You’re referring to?”

Kremer: “The stuffed animal.”

Robinson: “The stuffed animal? There’s no stuffed animal around here.”

Bill Romanowski: “I think it was our first game, and I knew nothing about ‘the Beaver,’ and sure enough Greg Robinson pulls out this little stuffed animal. And we’re getting ready to go out on the field, and he’s saying, ‘The Beaver is out! The Beaver is out!’ And I’m looking at this guy like he’s nuts.

Andrea Kremer, to Greg Robinson: “You’re denying any knowledge of using this for motivational purposes?”

Robinson: “Uh, absolutely.”

Alfred Williams: “He carries it in his pocket and then, you know, before he goes on the field he has a puppet beaver and [laughter] . . . I can’t believe you asked me this, man, but it was great. It’s great.

Pete Carroll: “Probably the all-time ‘beave’ was the one on the goal line against Buffalo.”

Andrea Kremer: “That hit led to an appearance by the Beaver in the 49ers’ game film.”

Gary Plummer: “As soon as the hit occurred and of course Lee Woodall picked it up and ran it back for a touchdown, the next thing spliced in is about a 10-second clip of the most diligent, hard-working animal in the animal kingdom. The beaver.”

Andrea Kremer: “As the pot gets richer, 11 men go scurrying like a beaver, trying to force a fumble. Sometimes forgetting the fundamentals.”

Jeff Lageman: “We were in New York, we were playing Miami one time. And I think we had a pot -- it rolled over from one game to the next -- and the pot was at about five or six thousand dollars. And everybody puts in money. That was the worst tackling performances we ever had.”

Andrea Kremer, to Pete Carroll: “Do you remember that day?”

Carroll: “Yeah, a little overboard on the emphasis that day, yeah. That did happen.”

Lageman: “It was pathetic. Everybody was going for the ball.”

Andrea Kremer: “The question is why? Why do a couple of hundred dollars matter to players making millions?”

Junior Seau: “It’s not the money. It’s the ego.”

Troy Vincent: “The ego gets involved.”

Cris Dishman: “It’s the pride factor.”

Lamar Lathon: “I think the biggest thing is just winning. Being able to say, ‘Hey, you owe me. Give me my money.’”

Dishman: “Oh, we collect. It’d be right after the game. And trust me I had all the money pimped on my chest to let everyone know that I won the pot.”

Lageman: “I mean it’s ridiculous. Guys are making probably $100,000 a week, some of these guys. And they’re getting cranked up over a couple hundred dollars cash pot. I mean, big deal.”

Kremer: “What does the NFL have to say about this incentive program that players insist is not a bounty? A league spokesman said the ‘Smash for Cash’ program is within the rules as long as players use their own monies, the amounts are not exorbitant, and the payments are not for illegal hits.”

Now that the guy who was the Commissioner in 1996 will be presiding over the bounty appeal hearing, look for the “Smash for Cash” feature to be shown on October 30, when the players argue that they’re being punished for something that not very long ago in the grand scheme of things the NFL expressly condoned.