How a contract is negotiated in professional sports can drastically affect how a player performs on the field or court. If a player isn’t satisfied with their contract, it could drag their performance down. Teams use contracts to help motivate players while also helping them identify their worth.
A contract clause is a provision that helps to sweeten the deal for either the player or the franchise. These provisions can be used to the team’s benefit by protecting their assets and create expectations that players have to live up to. Here are some of the craziest contract clauses that we can’t believe athletes actually have.
Balotelli’s Good Behavior Clause
Mario Balotelli has been tainted by his somewhat unpredictable and unmanageable antics off of the soccer field. He’s a great player but is widely criticized for his work ethic and temperament. This is why AC Milan decided to give him some incentives in his contract.
They decided to add a “good behavior” clause that looks to limit his “outlandish” haircuts, smoking, going to nightclubs, and posting controversial stuff on social media. Those are some high expectations for Balotelli.
Michael Jordan LOVES The Game
There are a lot of professional athletes who aren’t allowed to play their sport outside of their given league. Teams do this to limit the risk of injury for their players. Michael Jordan was a whole other animal though. The Chicago Bulls did EVERYTHING possible to make their star player happy.
Jordan installed a “Love of the Game” clause which allowed him to play basketball whenever and wherever he wanted to. Jordan was free to play pickup games or scrimmages in local gyms around the world.
Early Curfew For Dez
Dez Bryant is a very unique player in the NFL. He had a fairly troubling upbringing and the former Dallas Cowboy was never able to get it all together off the field. The Cowboys had to put some strict rules in his contract in order to tame his behavior.
He wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol, he had to go to counseling twice a week, he had his own private security team, and he had to be in bed by midnight. The most pointed clause in his contract is that he’s not allowed to go into strip clubs.
When Stefan Schwarz signed a multi-million dollar deal with Sunderland of the English Premier League, it contained one of the weirdest clauses of all time. Sunderland made sure that Schwarz would stay on earth, literally. They banned him from boarding any space travel flights.
Sunderland included the clause after it learned of Schwarz’s interest in space travel and they found out that one of his close friends saved him a seat on a potential space flight.
Manny Ramirez’s Sushi Obsession
Manny Ramirez is quite the character. He’s probably one of the most recognized baseball players, not only because he’s a good one, but because his personality is bigger than any stadium he played in. Look no further than in 2017 when Manny went to play ball in Japan and had some weird requests in his contract.
He wanted to be guaranteed unlimited sushi, his own private suite on the road during away games, and he wanted to be able to decide when he was and wasn’t going to practice.
He Odor(s) Horses
In March 2017, the Texas Rangers signed Rougned Odor to a massive $49.5 million contract. This was coming off of a big 2016 season when he hit 33 home runs, so the Rangers were willing to do anything to keep him.
They decided to throw in the contract a bonus of two horses depending on his play. Odor’s mother has a ranch with horses so he grew up loving them as a child. The Rangers used this to entice Odor and it definitely worked.
Michael Won’t Be Making Minor League Money
When Michael Jordan decided to retire from the NBA in 1993, the sports world completely stopped. Jordan was far and away the best basketball player in the world at the time, but decided to take his talents to the diamond and signed with the minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
Many people thought that he would be taking a significant pay cut, but that’s not the case. The owner of the Bulls was also the owner of the White Sox, so the salary just carried over and he was making $4 million a year in the minors.
Rick Mirer’s Getting Paid Even If The World Ends
Rick Mirer enjoyed a somewhat successful 12-year career in the NFL. He came into the league in 1993 as the second-overall pick and had a record-setting rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks. But, he’s most known for his contract clause that included a stipulation that Mirer would be paid by the Seahawks “up to and including the end of the world.”
So, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, the only person in the world who would still be getting paid would be Rick Mirer.
Brock Lesnar Cannot Be Punished
Brock Lesnar was certainly a controversial figure in the WWE and that didn’t stop when he made the transition to the UFC. Lesnar brought some nuanced contract clauses over to the octagon with him and one of them probably saved his entire MMA reputation.
One of the craziest things in his contract was a provision that basically told the UFC what they can and can’t discipline him for. When Lesnar tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during a fight against Mark Hunt, the UFC couldn’t punish him because of contractual obligations.
You Better Pay Ichiro’s Rent
If you’re going to keep a generational talent like Ichiro, you’re probably going to have to roll out the red carpet and give him the best treatment available. That’s exactly what happened when he re-signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2007 in a deal worth $90 million.
His contract included four round-trip first-class airline tickets to Japan per year for his family, a team-provided translator, a Mercedes SUV, and a housing allowance of $40,000 a year.
Big Baby’s Weight Loss Challenge
It’s safe to say that Glen “Big Baby” Davis lived up to his name while he was a member of the Boston Celtics. He was always fighting his weight and he had some iconic cry sessions on the court (looking at you Kevin Garnett).
The Celtics wanted to find a way to motivate Davis to drop a few pounds. So, in 2009, they signed him to a two-year contract extension with an additional clause that would pay Davis $500,000 if he could meet weight requirements.
Eddie Lacy’s Weight Watcher
When Eddie Lacy signed with the Seattle Seahawks in the 2017 offseason, they were well aware of his weight fluctuation. His roster weigh-in with the Packers was listed at 234 lbs, but some reports say that he was actually 267 lbs.
Lacy’s contract allowed him to earn a total of $365,000 in bonuses just by losing 10 pounds between May and September. Seattle scheduled seven weigh-ins which he could earn $55,000 each time, assuming he hit his targets.
Neymar’s Friends EAT
Neymar’s 2013 transfer from Santos FC to Barcelona was not without allegations of tax fraud, and A LOT of it. There was certainly a cloud over Neymar’s transition, but that didn’t stop him from making sure Barcelona met some of his personal wishes.
Barcelona had to fly Neymar’s friends from Brazil to Spain every two months so that he could be surrounded by his friends. In addition to transportation, the team was also accountable for his friend’s meals as well.
Beltran’s Enhancement Training
If you’re not sure exactly what a conditioned ocular enhancer is, you’re not alone. Carlos Beltran signed a seven-year $119 million contract with the NY Mets in 2005 and made it very clear that he wanted a conditioned ocular enhancer as well as an operator.
Basically, the COE is a machine that launches tennis balls at 150 mph in your direction. Instead of hitting the ball, the user tries to read the number and color of the ball as it passes.
George Brett Is Your Landlord
When George Brett signed an extension with the KC Royals in 1984, it included more than one unusual clause. He ended up being the part-owner of an apartment complex in Memphis, Tennessee, in exchange for playing baseball. This is not a joke.
The Royals team co-owner, Avron Fogelman, was a successful real estate developer and decided to use it to his advantage. He offered Brett a 10% stake in cash flow and the chance to sell his piece back to the Royals for $2 million.
Roy Oswalt’s Bulldozer Bonus
Roy Oswalt didn’t need any more reason to be excited to be pitching in Game 6 of the NLCS in 2006 for the Houston Astros, but team owner Drayton McLane made sure he was. He offered his player a little bit of a bonus in the form of an all-purpose tractor if Oswalt won the game.
Oswalt delivered by pitching seven innings and helping Houston clinch the National League title. McLane delivered with his bonus and gifted Oswalt a $200,000 tractor that had to be disclosed as an MLB contract incentive.
Rollie Fingers’ Mustache Bonus
When you think of infamous mustaches in major league baseball, you think of Rollie Fingers. He’s a Hall of Famer, has won a Cy Young Award, three World Series rings, and an MVP, but still, his mustache is the best part about him.
In 1972, Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley created a gimmick in which players could earn a bonus if they grew a mustache by Father’s Day. Obviously, Rollie ended up winning the contest and ended up getting a $300 bonus.
Roger Clemens’ Kids Get A Locker
Any team would love to have a Roger Clemens-type player pitching for their franchise. The Toronto Blue Jays were so interested in his pitching services that in 1996, they contractually agreed to let his sons practice in the Toronto Skydome (now the Rogers Centre).
They also were allowed to have lockers right next to their dad’s in the clubhouse. The practice seemed to pay off as Kacy Clemens was drafted to the MLB in 2013, but decided to attend the University of Texas.
Rolf-Christel Guie-Mien’s Cooking Classes
Rolf-Christel Guie-Mien was an elite player when he played for Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt soccer team. While other players asked for rent, horses, and unlimited sushi, he had a fairly straightforward request that had nothing to do with him.
If he signed with Frankfurt, he wanted the club to pay for cooking classes for his wife. We’re not sure if she really liked cooking, or if Rolf-Christel just really wanted his wife to be a better cook.
Ray Caldwell’s Drunkenness
Ray “Slim” Caldwell had been a bit of a journeyman in the MLB, going from team to team. He was finally picked up by the Cleveland Indians in 1919, and while he was extremely talented, he had a reputation for being a heavy drinker and night owl.
Before the Indians signed him, manager Tris Speaker made a deal with Caldwell that allowed him to get drunk after every game, rest the next day, train the third, and then pitch again on the fourth. The boozing paid off as he went 5-1 that season.