Published: August 16, 2007
Motivation and the contract year
Free 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.

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