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Steelers Fined for Salary Breach

May 19, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Pittsburgh Steelers were fined $150,000 by the NFL Friday and told to pay retired offensive lineman Will Wolford for a salary cap violation the team itself brought to the attention of the NFL.

The Steelers will also lose their third-round choice in next year’s draft in a settlement that avoided a ruling by a special master appointed by the NFL Management Council.

The penalties were part of a case that’s been pending since last June, when the Steelers informed the league that they had made an undisclosed commitment to pay Wolford without including it in his contract. That is considered by the NFL a violation of the salary cap.

Dan Rooney, the team’s president, serves on the Management Council advisory board. He said at the time the report was filed with the NFL that he didn’t think the team had done anything wrong.

The settlement requires the payment of $550,000 by the team _ $400,000 to Wolford and $150,000 as a fine. The league said in a statement that Wolford’s agent was unaware of the undisclosed commitment at the time it was made.

``The salary cap provisions are designed to create a level playing field for all clubs,″ Management Council chairman Harold Henderson said in the NFL’s statement.

``Undisclosed compensation arrangements undermine that level playing field and provide the club involved with an unfair advantage. ... In my judgment, this settlement, which takes into account the Steelers’ cooperation and their having brought this matter to the league’s attention, represents a fair resolution of the dispute.″

There are other continuing investigations of possible cap violations.

Last July, the San Francisco 49ers confirmed the NFL was looking into possible cap violations when Carmen Policy was the team’s president and Dwight Clark was the general manager. Both now work for the Cleveland Browns. That investigation is still pending.

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