Hefty Fine in NFL Salary Cap Dispute

ByABC News

N E W   Y O R K, Dec. 1, 2000 -- Cleveland Browns President Carmen Policy andteam Vice President Dwight Clark agreed to pay $600,000 today forviolating the NFL salary cap while with the San Francisco 49ers.

The settlement calls for Policy to pay $400,000 and Clark$200,000.

The principal issues involved provisions included in quarterbackJim Druckenmiller’s rookie contract, deals signed by linebacker LeeWoodall and tight end Brent Jones, and allegations of anundisclosed agreement involving quarterback Steve Young.

“Although there are many legal and factual differences ofopinion over many of the issues, everyone connected with the matteragrees that this settlement is in the best interests of everyoneinvolved, including the NFL,” Policy said in a statement.

Penalty Affects Draft Choices

As part of the settlement, the 49ers agreed to pay $300,000 andsurrender two draft choices — their fifth pick in the 2001 draftand third selection in 2002.

In addition, the 49ers agreed to recognize a commitment of$483,000 that the club’s prior ownership and management made toJones.

The settlement, made with the agreement of the NFL PlayersAssociation, also calls for the player agents involved — LeighSteinberg, Jeff Moorad and Gary Wichard — to pay substantial finesto settle claims.

It also permits Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to suspend for up toone year any club executive found to have entered into anundisclosed agreement or payment, and increases from $2 million to$3.5 million the amount clubs can be fined for entering intoundisclosed payments or agreements.

The commissioner also may take two first-round draft choicesfrom teams violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement with sidedeals.

The CBA also permits the commissioner to fine individual clubpersonnel up to $250,000 each for their roles in any undisclosedagreements. Players and agents may be fined the same amount by theCBA Special Master.

In October, NBA Commissioner David Stern took five No. 1 picksaway from the Minnesota Timberwolves and fined the team $3.5million for violating the NBA salary cap.

Policy: Not a Violation

Policy defended his role in a statement issued by the Browns.

“I steadfastly maintain that I did not intend to violate any ofthe provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement nor do I feelthat any of my actions amounted to a violation,” he said. “Icannot envision myself as an adversary of the NFL, especially in asituation involving litigation. A courtroom victory against theleague would be the equivalent of winning a battle but losing thewar.”

The principal issues involved allegations of an undisclosedagreement concerning duration and incentive provisions ofDruckenmiller’s rookie contract, undisclosed agreement concerningthe duration of Woodall’s contract, undisclosed commitments andpayments made to Jones in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, and anagreement made between the agent for Young and the club regardingthe quarterback’s future compensation.

Steinberg, agent for Young and Jones, said, “We have no findingof liability. Our players get paid and worthy charities willbenefit. This is the solution we advocated for some time.”

Harold Henderson, the NFL’s executive vice president for laborrelations, said the league was satisfied with the outcome.

“Under our new agreement with the Players Association forstiffer penalties and enforcement, future issues of cap violationwill not be settled,” he said.

“Such cases will be prosecuted to a conclusion before theSpecial Master, and a violation will be subject to discipline underthe significantly increased sanctions authorized by today’sagreement. This new agreement also eliminates the uncertainties andrisks associated with litigating to a conclusion the types ofcomplex issues raised in the 49ers case.”

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