USFL player contracts were standardized,
legal documents that contained little entertainment value for the typical fan. With that being said, we are fortunate to own
the original league copy of Toni Fritsch's 1984 Gamblers contract and are happy to point out the interesting details
contained therein. For reference, here's a look at the top of page one:
The long, two-sided document contains
a total of 23 provisions, ranging from physical condition and standards of performance, to gambling and drugs/alcohol. Provision
number 23 is probably the most interesting, as it details any extra incentives and bonuses paid by the club. Before
we get to that, it should be noted that this document contracted Fritsch's services from December 1, 1983 through November
30, 1984. Fritsch was to be paid a $35,000 salary for the year. In addition to reasonable lodging and meals during training
camp, players would also receive a $5 per diem. During the regular season, the per diem was $5 for breakfast, $5 for lunch
and $15 for supper (Luby's Cafeteria, anyone???)
The document contains the original signatures of Fritsch and Gamblers General Manager Gene Burrough,
signed on August 31, 1983. USFL Commissioner Chet Simmons added his rubber-stamp on September 12, 1983.
The Gamblers added several performance
incentives to the contract, offering cash for each of five additional scenarios. Here they are, as well as how Toni did on
the field that year:
1. “Player will receive $5,000
if he has a 60% field goal percentage (minimum of 18 attempts) during the 1984 regular season.”
Fritsch connected on 21 of 26 field goals in
1984 , giving him a percentage of 81% and earning him the $5,000 bonus.
2. “Player will receive $2,500 if he is named Special Teams Player of
the Year of the USFL.”
only record I can find of a “1984 Special Teams Player of the Year” was the one sponsored by Sqwincher (the USFL’s
official energy drink), which was inexplicably awarded to Tampa Bay’s Zenon Andrusyshyn. I don’t believe Fristch
was awarded this bonus.
“Player will receive a bonus in the amount of $10,000 if he is selected first team All-USFL by one of the following:
Associated Press (AP), Pro Football Weekly (PFW), Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA) or Newspaper Enterprise Associates
up on the $10,000, as he was selected first team 1984 USFL All-League by the print and broadcast media in league cities. In
addition, Fristch was selected first team All-USFL by The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly.
4. “Player will receive $8,000 if he leads the league in total number
of points scored by kicking during the regular 1984 season.”
Fritsch not only topped all kickers in points scored with 130 in 1984, but also led the entire league
in scoring regardless of position. New Jersey running back Herschel Walker came in second with 128 points, while Philadelphia
kicker David Trout came in third with 127 points.
5. "If player kicks 100% of his PAT’s (point after attempts), he will receive
one could have foreseen Fritsch attempting an incredible 69 point after attempts during the 1984 season, but he did manage
to connect on 67 of them. Toni probably had the $2,000 on his mind when, against the New Jersey Generals on March 18, he made
this desperation throw after a bad snap (he had not mssed a PAT up to that point). The play resulted in a near-riot in the
Atrodome that day:
If my research is correct, Fritsch added
$23,000 in bonuses to his $35,000 salary for the 1984 season. The 'washed-up" NFL kicker had found a new life with the
Gamblers in the USFL, and went on to score another 122 points during the 1985 USFL regular season (21 of 24 field goals,
and 59 of 62 extra points). I'm not sure of the details of his new contract, but Fritsch was once again the leading scorer
among kickers in 1985.