Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sports Center Saturday--My Dad's 1936 NFL Contract

Sports Center Saturday--My Dad's 1936 NFL Contract

Some years back while sorting through scrapbooks and boxes of papers and photos that my mother had saved and passed on to me, I came across an interesting letter--it was my dad's contract for playing football his rookie year (1936) with the Detroit Lions. As shown below, it was only one page in length.  I can only imagine the length of a contract today and it certainly would be far more than a single page!

The first letter is an acknowledgement by the Lions of receiving my dad's signed contract.  They pointed out, however, that he had only returned two copies.  They wanted three copies signed by him.

Acknowledgement of Contract Receipt
 Unfortunately, the contract is not very readable.  That is because I made a basic mistake.  The original contract and a photo of my father are matted and framed and the back of the frame is sealed, so as to preserve it as much as possible.  I didn't think, however, to make copies of the contract prior to having it framed.  Thus, I now have to scan it through the glass.  If you will look at the photo at the beginning of my blog, Del's Genealogy Ramblings, that was photographed and is much more readable.  I did crop the digital image into two parts, so that I could enlarge it more than normal.

Detroit Lions Contract for Delbert B. Ritchhart

Since it is very hard to read, I have typed a couple of the more interesting paragraphs below.

1.  The club will pay the Player a salary for his skilled services during the playing season 1936 at the rate of One Hundred and no/100 dollars for each regularly scheduled League game played. For all other games. . . . . . .

6.  This contract may be terminated at any time by the club giving notice in writing to the player within forth-eight (48) hours after the day of the last game in which he is to participate with this club.

Thus, he was to make $100 per game and they could let him go with only 48 hour notice.  Not exactly the kind of contract one of today's NFL players would receive.  The $100 income would convert to about $4500 today in terms of a skilled laborer.  Thus, it would be roughly like an NFL player today getting about $72,000 for a 16 game season.  Today's minimum salary for a rookie is $285,000.  The NFL, obviously, was the big money maker in those days as compared to now.

In another letter I have from the Lions they advised him that he had to pay his way to and from Detroit before and after the season.  He had to provide his own practice uniform and received a daily meal allowance on the days of a game or on travel.   Once again, not exactly up to today's standards in the NFL.

Framed Contract and Photo