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Playoff Bonus Offers Cost 49ers $50,000 Fine

January 08, 1988

Commissioner Pete Rozelle of the National Football League fined the San Francisco 49ers $50,000 Thursday as a result of their offering players bonus money for reaching the playoffs.

Rozelle said the 49ers had violated league rules regarding "the form and timing of the bonuses and for failing to follow proper procedures in the filing of player contracts which contained these bonuses."

League rules say that a bonus cannot be added to a player's contract after the contract is on file with the league office. The 49ers circumvented that rule by filing the contracts with the league after the player strike last fall. That tardiness prompted Rozelle to fine the club.

Rozelle said he would not rescind the bonuses promised by owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. after the strike.

DeBartolo passed out letters to the 49ers after the club's 24-22 victory over New Orleans the week after the players had returned from their strike. In the letters, DeBartolo promised each player to double his playoff money for the opening round. Because they won the NFC West title each player collected $20,000 for the first round.

"We really have nothing to say about (Rozelle's decision)," said Bill Walsh, the 49er coach and team president. "We committed ourselves to the incentive clause and now we will have to accept the NFL position on it."

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