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Sports Then and Now



There is Nothing Free About Free Agency 0

Posted on March 13, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Legend has it that future Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo (51) was traded by the Packers after bringing an agent to contract negotiations.

Legend has it that future Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo (51) was traded by the Packers after bringing an agent to contract negotiations.

If he were still alive, I wonder what NFL Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo would think about the concept of an “un-capped” NFL salary structure or of the multi-million dollars in guaranteed money being given to players with only average NFL  pedigrees.

As legend has it, Ringo, an All-Pro center and anchor of the Packer’s vaunted offensive line, brought an agent with him to contract negotiations with Green Bay Packer head coach Vince Lombardi prior to the 1964 season. Lombardi then excused himself and when he returned five minutes later told Ringo and his agent that they would have to go to Philadelphia to discuss his new contract because he had just been traded to the Eagles.

Some historians claim that the actual incident between Ringo and Lombardi is just a myth, but what isn’t a myth is the sacrifice that many athletes from the past made to ensure that the players of today are able to freely negotiate and sign lavish contracts.

For more than a half-century, the contract of every player in Major League Baseball included what was known as the “reserve clause”, which bound a player, one year at a time, in perpetuity to the club owning his contract. Basically, it meant that the player was tied to the team until the team chose to trade or release the player and he had no opportunity to pursue employment with another organization on his own terms. As professional sports leagues started in football, basketball and hockey, owners in those leagues essentially emulated baseball’s “reserve clause.” Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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