In 1944, Curly Lambeau and the Green Bay Packers sent “regular League contracts” to player Edward McGroarty, offering to pay him $150 per game, plus $35 per week in living expenses, and transportation to Green Bay.
The contract and cover letter, which can be seen here, were sent to us by a reader who says it has been passed down through his family.
Lambeau also promised to raise McGroarty’s salary as soon as he is “playing the kind of ball deserving more money.”
Including living expenses, McGroarty stood to earn $2,035 a season during the 11-game schedule with the Packers in 1944.
For comparison, Peyton Manning makes nearly $1 million per game this season in base salary.
It is unclear what happened to McGroarty’s career, but he is not listed on the Packers roster from 1944 at ProFootballReference.com. (He doesn’t have a player page either, but the database is not totally comprehensive.) The Packers would win the NFL championship that season, the sixth under Lambeau.
According to his Hall of Fame page at Northland College, McGroarty “signed with the Green Bay Packers and also played with Cincinnati.” While Cincinnati did not have a team in the NFL at the time, the original Cincinnati Bengals played in a rival league in the early ’40s.
Still, we’ve seen no reason to doubt the authenticity or that these were standard terms for an NFL deal.
It is interesting to note, that long before the days of word processors, the header for the cover letter has 'Curly' misspelled.
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