The NFL Players Association filed papers in federal court pointing out that the NFL permitted a 1996 incentive program for big hits funded by then-Green Bay defensive lineman Reggie White.
These reports from over a decade ago were made by ESPN. In yesterday’s filing, the NFLPA cites Reggie White’s “Smash for Cash” program as paying out $500 to teammates for big plays which included big hits.
In the ESPN reports an NFL spokesman is quoted saying that the pay for performance programs were allowed as long as players used their own money and that the amounts the players pledged were not exorbitant.
”The fact that the NFL has a different agenda today than it did in 1996 cannot change the unequivocal language of the NFL Constitution & Bylaws, which has never prohibited this type of behavior,” the union wrote in its legal briefs. ”The Commissioner’s attempt to nonetheless suspend and scapegoat Mr. Fujita for conduct – incentivizing undisputed, legitimate plays – never before punished or prohibited by the NFL not only violates the `essence of the (collective bargaining) agreement’ but further demonstrates the Commissioner’s evident partiality.”
Judging from the briefs filed, it appears that this “Smash for Cash” defense is mainly going to be applied to Scott Fujita, whom the league has already cleared of any participatin in what they are claiming to be a “Pay to Injure” scheme.
The question to many is whether or not it must be limited to Fujita or if all of the accused players can show the leagues permission of such programs in the past to legitimize their claims that they are being treated unfairly.
When questioned about this filing, current NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment. Color me not surprised.