MORT'S MAILBAG | Oct. 3
Q: Where does the money go that the NFL collects as fines from teams and players? -- Lee, Tallahassee, Florida
MORT -- The fine money is distributed to three charities -- the Brian Piccolo Cancer Center, the Vince Lombardi Cancer Research Center and the NFL Players Association Players' Assistance Trust. The latter charity is for former players who are struggling in their post-playing career.
Q: When will people start giving credit to Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier for taking Marty Schottenheimer's players and going 7-9, revamping and bringing in talent this year to go, say, 9-7, and then next year draft or trade for a better D-line and be a dominant team! That's three years and dominance. People realize it will take Bill Parcells time but somehow found a way to criticize Spurrier for going 7-9. Go 'Skins! -- Ryan, New York City
MORT -- Ryan, I don't think Spurrier was criticized for going 7-9 (Schottenheimer was 8-8 the year before), but for thinking he could improve the team with "his" players (i.e., ex-Gators). You must credit Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for realizing he had a $5 million offensive "genius," with too many minimum-wage type players. Snyder went out and got more players (like Laveranues Coles), and I think the result is going to be a very good one. I have always said that Snyder got it right with these acquisitions because they were not only talented but also in the early stages of their prime years. I do believe Spurrier has a special gift that few coaches have -- the ability to react in-game to a variety of problems. As for predicting records, why shoot so low (9-7) this year? Enjoy!
Q: If a player is suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team," such as in the David Boston situation, does the pay that he loses during his suspension still get charged against the team's salary cap even though it was never paid? Similarly, if a player continues to breach his contract through such behavior and gets cut as a result, can the team get a prorated portion of the signing bonus back, and, if so, would the salary-cap charge related to that portion of the signing bonus be abated? It looks like the San Diego Chargers may have blown it with Boston. If he continues to be a problem, what is the Chargers' best solution? -- John, Horseheads, New York
MORT -- John, if this suspension is upheld as legitimate, then the Chargers will get a cap credit for the amount of his game check. If Boston contests the suspension, with the NFLPA on his side, the credit would not be made until an ultimate decision via an arbitrator. The signing bonus eventually could be a target. I think Marty Schottenheimer and the Chargers are doing a good thing by obviously admitting they may have made a mistake and by not sticking their heads in the sand, as they did too long with Ryan Leaf.
Q: I always wanted to go into sports medicine, specifically be a team doctor or ortho specialist for athletes. Last night, I was watching the new ESPN series "Playmakers." Do all NFL team doctors get treated as badly as the ones in the show do? -- Danny, Edison, New Jersey
MORT -- I haven't seen "Playmakers." However, I think players, in general, treat doctors with great respect. There can be occasional tension or mistrust because of the perception and/or reality that the doctor is an employee of the team. But I find doctors to be of high integrity, certainly more loyal to their Hippocratic oath than to any team. If they make a mistake in diagnosing or treating a player, then I think it's an honest mistake that has consequences. Players do have the right to get second opinions from an independent doctor at the team's expense, and most doctors have no problem with that.