Contracts in professional sports have become just as important as anything that goes on when the players actually take the field or the court. How a contract is negotiated can determine a player's satisfaction with his team as well as how he performs once the real games actually begin. Teams use contracts to motivate players at the same time players use contracts to identify their worth or establish their expectations.
And beyond the dollar amount included in contracts, clauses regarding other fine details have become an increasingly valuable aspect of the process. Yes, players will usually always follow the money or seek out the biggest payday. After that, location of the team and its position to win a title are often the most influential factors in getting a player to sign on the dotted line. If a team is lacking in any of those areas, clauses can be used to add a little extra to sweeten the deal and sway the player's opinion. On the flip side, teams can protect their assets and create their own expectations by clauses that could negatively affect a player if he doesn't live up to his end of the bargain.
In this list, we look at the more outlandish, bizarre, and crazy clauses that players either demanded or were assigned by their teams. We'll look at off the field perks, unusual bonuses, and strict conduct policies all designed to keep players and teams happy. Here are the top 20 crazy contract clauses we can't believe these athletes got:
20 Rollie Fingers: Mustache Bonus
Rollie Fingers' mustache has become just as famous as the pitcher, who played from 1968-1985 and won three World Series, an MVP, and Cy Young Award in his Hall of Fame Career. And while most fans thing of the mustache when the hear Fingers' name, few know that it was a contract clause that gave birth to it.
In 1972 Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley created a gimmick in which his players could earn a bonus if they grew a mustache by Father's Day. Fingers decided to participate and grew out his well-known handlebar mustache complete with curled ends. He was rewarded with a $300 bonus in contract the following season which also included a $100 allowance for buying mustache wax.
19 Stefan Schwarz: Space Travel Ban
When Swedish soccer player Stefan Schwarz signed a £4 million deal with Sunderland of the English Premier League, it contained one of the crazier clauses in history. Sunderland banned Schwarz from boarding any space travel flights, indicating that his contract would be voided if he was on a commercial space flight that was projected to be ready by 2002.
Sunderland included the clause after it learned of Schwarz's interest in space travel as well as discovering that one of the midfielder's closest advisers had already reserved a seat on a potential space flight. And while Schwarz never ended up choosing extraterrestrial tourism over soccer, he was given the nickname "The Spaceman" by supporters. We really wonder if in fact Schwarz would have gone through with it if the chance came up.
18 Roy Oswalt: Bulldozer Bonus
Besides a potential spot in the World Series, Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt had some extra motivation heading into his Game 6 NLCS start against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005. Team owner Drayton McLane offered a special clause that if Oswalt won, he would be gifted an all-purpose tractor. We've heard of bonuses in pay before but this was obviously something new.... and it worked.
Oswalt delivered by pitching seven innings and helping Houston clinch the National League pennant. McLane delivered in December of that year, gifting Oswalt a $200,000 tractor that had to be disclosed to Major League Baseball as a contract incentive. Oswalt already had plans for the machinery back on his property in Weir, Mississippi. We never would have thought it'd take a tractor for a pitcher to get extra motivation.
17 George Brett: Landlord
George Brett signed an extension with the Kansas City Royals in 1984 that included more than one unusual clauses. For one, he negotiated for ownership of the bat he used in the pine tar incident the year prior. But even crazier was how he ended up as a part-owner of an apartment complex in Memphis, Tennessee in exchange for playing baseball.
The perk came through Royals team co-owner Avron Fogelman who was a successful real estate developer. The Royals decided to use this to their advantage and offered Brett a 10 percent stake in the 1,100 unit development. He took the deal and was guaranteed $1 million in cash flow and the chance to sell his piece back to the Royals for $2 million.
16 Carlos Beltran: Ocular Enhancement Training
If you're not sure exactly what a conditioned ocular enhancer is, we don't blame you. Carlos Beltran was well aware of it when he signed his seven-year $119 million contract with the New York Mets in 2005. Beltran demanded, and was given, a clause that required the Mets to lease the machine as well as hire an operator.
So what is a conditioned ocular enhancer? It is a machine that launches numbered, colored tennis balls towards the user at speeds up to 150 miles per hour. Rather than try to hit the ball like a pitching machine, the user instead attempts to read the number and identify the color on the ball as it passes. Beltran became quite fond of the machine and was convinced the eye training was an advantage when he was at the plate.
15 Charlie Kerfeld: Jell-O Man
As a rookie in 1986, Houston Astros setup man Charlie Kerfeld had an 11-2 record and an ERA around 2.60. He was a big part of the Astros run to the National League Championship Series as well. However his career would stall out after that first season as he never quite stuck in the majors due in part to injuries as well poor control of his pitches and weight.
That rookie campaign was enough to get him a new contract and the unique individual Kerfeld was took advantage of that fact. He was well known for his sense of humor, demonstrated by his request that his salary be upped to $110,037.37 to reflect his uniform number 37. Even crazier than that was his demand for 37 boxes of orange Jell-O be included as a contract clause.
14 Neymar: Friends Fly Free
Neymar's 2013 transfer from Santos FC in his native Brazil to Barcelona was not without controversy. An investigation was made into the transfer fees amid allegations of tax fraud and it was discovered that Barcelona paid nearly €30 million more than they initially reported with €40 million going to Neymar's parents.
Despite the cloud over his transfer, Neymar still made sure that his contract with Barcelona met some of his personal wishes. Included was a clause that stipulated Barcelona would fly Neymar's friends from Brazil to Spain every two months so the Brazilian could be surrounded by familiar faces. In addition to the travel expenses, the team is also responsible for food and accommodations for Neymar's crew.
13 Eddie Lacy: Weight Watcher
In the 2017 NFL offseason former Green Bay Packers running back signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Lacy has a history of fluctuating weight--his roster weight in Green Bay was listed at 234 but that was never confirmed. Some reports indicated he weighed as much as 267 during offseason workouts. The Seahawks decided then to motivate the veteran with some incentives built into his contract.
Lacy can earn a total of $385,000 in bonuses just by losing 10 pounds between May and September. Seattle has scheduled seven weigh ins where Lacy can earn $55,000 each time assuming he hits his targets of 255 in May, 250 in June and August, and 245 for September through December.
12 Michael Jordan: Minor Leagues, Major Salary
Michael Jordan's decision to retire from the NBA in 1993 remains one of the most shocking moments in sports history. The Chicago Bulls were coming off a championship season and Jordan was far and away the best player on the planet. Conspiracy theorists will have you believe he was actually serving a suspension for gambling but whatever the reason, Jordan dropped basketball in favor of baseball to sign with the minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
One thing that stood out beyond Jordan stepping away at the height of his power in the NBA was the money he was leaving behind on the table in salary. Going from the best player in the NBA to a minor league baseball player comes with a significant pay cut. But to offset those losses, Jordan's minor league contract benefited from the fact that Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf also owned the White Sox. So to take care of Jordan, Reinsdorf continued to pay him his NBA salary of $4 million even while Jordan posted a .202 batting average.
11 Ichiro: Rent Included
A talent like Ichiro can be expected to get special treatment and a few perks included in his contract. He made sure this was the case when he signed a contract extension with the Seattle Mariners in 2007 following a year in which he had a .322 batting average, stole 45 bases, and won a Gold Glove. The extension was a five year deal worth $90 million with an annual salary of $17 million and included a $5 million signing bonus.
Clauses for various perks and benefits are where Ichiro's deal really got crazy. They included four round-trip first-class airline tickets to Japan per year for his family, a team-provided translator and personal trainer, and Ichiro's choice of either a Jeep or Mercedes SUV. If that wasn't enough, the strangest request the Mariners honored was a housing allowance of around $40,000 per year for Ichiro to rent a home. For someone making $17 million a year, it's bizarre to want a tiny fraction of that for rent but Ichiro got his wish.
10 Diana Taurasi: Paid Vacation
More and more WNBA players are being tempted by lucrative offers from teams overseas that simply cannot be matched by teams in the U.S. And for the league's big name talent like Diana Taurasi it can be a smart, albeit emotional, decision to make. Such was the case when she signed with Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg. The Russian league plays during the WNBA's offseason, meaning most players have the opportunity to play both at home and abroad.
In order to protect their investment UMMC Ekaterinburg offered Taurasi a tempting contract clause for 2015: sit out the WNBA season and still get paid. Taurasi was set to earn a salary of $107,000 with the Phoenix Mercury. Compare that to her $1.5 million contract with UMMC Ekaterinburg and add in the fact the Russian side offered to cover her WNBA salary to rest, you can see why Taurasi took the money.
9 Rick Mirer: End Of The World Clause
Rick Mirer was the second overall pick in the 1993 NFL draft and the quarterback had a record setting rookie season for the Seattle Seahawks. His career would bring him to the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and New York Jets among other teams.
Despite having a 12 year career and a successful winery business in his retirement, Mirer is still widely know for the unique phrasing included in one of his contract clauses with the Seahawks. Mirer's agent Don Yee (the future agent of Tom Brady) made sure to include a stimpuation that Mirer would be paid under all conditions "up to and including the end of the world." So in the event of the apocalypse, the Seahawks would still be on the hook for Mirer's salary. It's hard to see the logic behind the clause, considering money at the end of hte world would likely be useless, but credit to Yee and Mirer for covering all their bases.
8 Sebastian Coates: No Red Boots
There are some rules in sports that limit what players can wear outside the assigned uniform. Typically these relate to accessories and footwear and are designed to ensure players keep colors within the scheme of their organization.
Sporting Lisbon took this a step further when they included a clause in the contract of defender Sebastian Coates in 2016. On loan in Portugal from Premier League side Sunderland, Coates was banned from wearing red cleats due to the color's association with Sporting's rivals Benfica as well as Porto. This clause seems to take things to the extreme but it does give some perspective on just how serious some organizations take their rivalries.
7 Rougned Odor: Two Horse Bonus
In March 2017 Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor signed a five-year $49.5 million contract extension. This was coming of the 2016 season in which Odor hit 33 home runs and gained even more attention for the hit he landed on Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. But as if the nearly $50 million wasn't enough, the Rangers decided to throw in a little contract bonus in the form of two horses.
Odor has stated his mother's family had a ranch where he developed his fondness for horses. He told reporters that being around the animals is relaxing and offers him an escape from baseball. In fact, he already owned six horses at his Venezuelan home. The Rangers used this to their advantage and offered the horses in an effort to entice Odor to sign. It worked and the horses were sent to Odor, completing one of the more unusual contract clause in Major League Baseball.
6 Glen Davis: $500,000 Weight Loss Challenge
Glen "Big Baby" Davis lived up to both parts of his nickname while a member of the Boston Celtics. He was a baby when he was brought to tears on the bench after being called out in a huddle by Kevin Garnett. And he was big....well, the entire time he was in green and white. This wasn't always a negative as Davis clearly learned how to used his less than stellar vertical and rotund frame to his benefit, becoming a solid contributor for Boston off the bench.
Despite this, the Celtics still wanted to find a way to motivate Davis to drop some weight and remain at a consistent size. So in 2009 they signed him to a two year extension worth upwards of $6 million. Included in that contract was a clause that would pay Davis an additional $500,000 if he could meet certain weight requirements set by the team. Unfortunately the target weight was never disclosed nor was any report on whether Davis met the goal.
5 Michael Jordan: Love Of The Game Clause
A common, and completely understandable, contract clause that many pro teams install limit the off-field actions of their players. Typically they address other physical activities that could potentially result in injury and prevent the player from earning his paycheck. Even the same sport can be off limit if played outside of the designated league. It is a smart way to protect investments and avoid any negative consequences that may come because of anything from jet skiing to rock climbing.
But as we already saw on this list, Michael Jordan was a special case. The Chicago Bulls seemingly did everything to please their franchise player and that was apparent with Jordan's "Love of the Game" clause. It allowed Jordan to play basketball whenever and wherever he wanted. Outside of the NBA, Jordan was free to play pickup games or scrimmages whether they were in a local gym, playground, or an exhibition anywhere in the world.
4 Mario Balotelli: Good Behavior Bonus
Mario Balotelli has earned a reputation off the field just as notable as his performance on the pitch. He has been labeled "unmanagable" and been criticized for a poor worth ethic and temperament that has negatively impacted his play. It seems as though it doesn't matter the league or tournament he plays it as Balotelli is just as likely to display brilliance with the ball as he is to blow up on an opponent or referee at a costly moment.
To possibly motivate Balotelli into playing a more controlled style, AC Milan included a "good behavior" clause when the striker was loaned from Liverpool. The crazy aspects of the clause come in to play when you look at what Milan expected from Balotelli off the field. Provisions in the clause reportedly included a ban on "outlandish" haircuts, smoking, going to nightclubs, and controversial social media posts.
3 Brock Lesnar: Special Treatment
Brock Lesnar has had his fair share of success, and controversy, both in the ring with the WWE and in the octagon with the UFC. With that crossover, there obviously comes the need for nuanced contract negotiations and clauses on both sides to allow Lesnar to move between the two organizations.
Perhaps the craziest clause in Lesnar's WWE contract is a provision that states just what Lesnar can and cannot be disciplined for. This was brought to light in 2016 when Lesnar tested positive for performance enhancing drugs prior to his UFC fight against Mark Hunt. The WWE did not punish Lesnar, claiming that as only a part-time wrestler he was not subject to the wellness policy. In addition to this Lesnar has also skated around punishment for other infractions, including using unscripted profanities during Raw. With seemingly no consequences for his actions, you can't blame Lesnar for pushing the envelope.
2 Dez Bryant: No Strip Clubs
Dez Bryant's entire life story has been interesting and he is truly one of the more unique characters in the NFL. Despite a troubled upbringing the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver has developed into a premier talent at his position. But due in part to his past and previous legal troubles the Cowboys were sure to set some strict rules within Bryant' contract.
Reportedly put into effect in 2012, the clauses on Bryant's off-field behavior are by all accounts still in place. Here are just a few stipulations from the Cowboys:
-Counseling sessions twice per week
-Private security team
-A midnight curfew
As if these weren't strict enough there is an even crazier clause that bans Bryant from any and all strip clubs and night clubs that are not approved by the Dallas Cowboys. If approved, Bryant must also be escorted by team security members. It seems like a long way to go to keep a player out of trouble but when you look at Bryant's production on the field, it makes sense to keep him in line.
1 Manny Ramirez: Unlimited Sushi
Manny Ramirez was a generational talent at the plate during his MLB career. During his prime with the Boston Red Sox, there was perhaps no more of a feared right-handed hitter. Off the field, and sometimes while playing the field, Manny was very unpredictable. He shifted from the happy-go-lucky "Manny Being Manny" to sometimes a clubhouse distraction who was very particular about how he wanted his environment.
That unpredictability continued in 2017 when Ramirez signed a contract to play professional baseball in Japan with the Kochi Fighting Dogs. Included in his deal are some of the more bizarre and crazy contract clauses you've ever heard of. Manny received a personal car, his own private suite on the road, and the ability to choose when, and if, he practices. To top it all off, Manny's contract also guarantees that the slugger will have unlimited sushi. Unlimited. As in there is no end to the amount of sushi Manny Ramirez can eat in exchange for playing baseball in Japan. That is the definition of a crazy contract clause.
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