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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Sunday, December 22, 2002
12:35 PM

Maybe this is why the Post hasn't responded to a detailed complaint by Augusta media consultant Jim McCarthy about Leonard Shapiro's recent story on the Martha Burk controversy--they're a little preoccupied with this: NFLPA's [Gene] Upshaw Responds. It's a guest column in the Sports section, or, depending on your perspective, an unusually damning correction:

As executive director of the National Football League Players Association, I must take issue with the accuracy and fairness of last Sunday's article entitled, "For NFL Players There Are No Guarantees," written by Thomas Heath and Leonard Shapiro....

I don't know the first thing about contracts in professional sports. But it's extremely rare for a paper to hand over this much real estate to an outsider for a response to one of its stories. The Heath/Shapiro story used the status of Redskins player Stephen Davis to examine what they regarded as failures of the NFL player's union. Among Upshaw's claims:

The article failed to do justice to several of our benefits in the "State of the Union" chart that compared the four major sports unions. For example, your description of our family health benefits stated that we have "full family coverage for five years after retirement," but it did not mention that we have the same coverage for a player and his family before retirement. ...

Stephen Davis received $6.5 million in guaranteed signing bonuses from the Redskins in his current contract. But the article stated that he was "losing" all of his salary for the balance of his Redskins contract if he is cut after this season. The latter statement is inaccurate and misleading. The fact is that $2.5 million of Davis's 2003 salary is guaranteed, and he will receive that amount from the Redskins even if he is cut....And if he gets injured playing for his new team, he will still have his signing bonuses, his salary payments through the year of injury, our disability benefits, our severance plan, our annuity plan, our 401(k) plan, and our pension....

Meanwhile, the remaining salary in his Redskins contract will go to other players on the roster, and not to Dan Snyder's bottom line. Thanks to the system we negotiated, our percentage of the gross revenues is guaranteed to the players as a group rather than as individuals, with the result that if one player doesn't get the money, another one will. The same cannot be said for sports such as baseball, where the guaranteed money paid to Kevin Brown cannot be used for another player who may replace him on the roster....

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