Motivation and the contract yearFree agency has ushered a new term into professional sports: contract year. When players are in the final year of a contract, the common theory goes, they play harder and/or better, trying to get a big payday.
Before free agency, no such motivation existed. Athletes had no bargaining power. But new Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips dismisses the whole notion. "I don't know how much I believe that,” Phillips said. "A guy with pride is going to play hard every year. "A really good player is going to play every single year. Really, they play for a contract every year.” True enough. NFL contracts are not guaranteed. Bonuses are a replacement for guaranteed contracts, but Phillips' stance seems solid. Few athletes without pride reach the major league level.