Apparently not all professional athletes are motivated solely by money.
Despite not knowing how much they will be paid for playing in the United Football League championship game against the Virginia Destroyers, Locomotives players are more interested in winning a third straight title.
The financially troubled four-team league moved its lone playoff game from Nov. 5 to Friday, announcing Monday that it was canceling the final two weeks of the regular season.
Locos players were made aware of the possibility of a shortened season last week before they went to Omaha, Neb., and beat the Nighthawks 13-6 on Saturday. The victory gave Las Vegas a 3-1 record and secured a spot in Friday’s 5 p.m. PDT game against the Destroyers (3-1) at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.
Though it never came to a vote Thursday, the consensus of the Locos’ players was that they would play for a three-peat and not boycott the championship game.
“It sucks,” three-year UFL tight end Adam Bergen said of the league’s dire financial situation. “We’re getting the shaft. We wish we could do more about the situation, but we can’t.
“Guys are playing for pride. We’re professionals. We’re not going to just take a knee and quit. We just want to go out and win this thing.”
Quarterback Chase Clement said: “It shouldn’t only be about your paycheck. We have a chance to do something special and be the only team to win the championship each of the league’s three years. That opportunity doesn’t happen too often.”
When the Locos won the first UFL title in 2009, each player received $25,000. When they repeated as UFL champs in 2010, the Locos got $20,000 apiece.
The league Monday had yet to determine the pay for this year’s champions and runners-up, though a source close to the talks said the winners likely would receive $10,000 and the losers no more than $5,000.
Locos owner Bill Hambrecht and Destroyers owner Bill Mayer are working out the final figures, because the money will be coming out of their pockets.
Because there is no UFL players union, players are in a take-it-or-leave-it situation. They won’t be paid for the two canceled regular-season games.
“A lot of guys were counting on that money,” Bergen said. “They’ve got bills to pay. So we’re hoping we’ll get at least $10,000 for Friday.
“I think Bill Hambrecht is a great guy. His heart is in the right place. I believe he’s on our side, and I hope he’ll do the right thing for the players.”
Clement said the Locos won’t be distracted by the league’s financial woes.
“No matter what’s happening, we have to keep our focus on football,” he said. “We can’t control that other stuff, so why worry about it?”
After the final gun Friday, there will still be urgent financial matters for the Locos to deal with. The team is planning refunds to 2,000 season ticket-holders who originally signed on for four home games at Sam Boyd Stadium. Las Vegas played only one home game, because the Hartford franchise folded at the last minute, and both of the canceled regular-season games were to be played here, Saturday against Sacramento and Oct. 27 against Virginia.
Ruben Herrera, the Locos’ vice president for business operations, said refunds will be made to season subscribers and fans holding individual tickets for the last two games. He also said the team would work out compensation for corporate sponsors and vendors who paid the team for services and advertising exposure during the two lost home games.
The refund policies will be announced today, Herrera said.
“We’ll refund the final two games 100 percent,” he said. “We’ll take care of everybody.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter @stevecarprj.