Halfway through the weightlifting segment of the Washington State pro day workouts on Wednesday, in a small area of the football complex filled with sweaty draft prospects laboring to impress the NFL scouts, the near-silence was suddenly shattered by a scream.
The only other noises in the room were the grunts of guys straining to hoist the standard 225-pound weight in the bench press drill, the clang of metal on metal and the mumbles of league talent evaluators as they noted the number of repetitions for each player, and so the gleeful squeal was certainly incongruous. Then again, given the news that elicited it, the joyful outburst was understandable.
New York Jets free safety Erik Coleman, fresh off a terrific rookie season and back on campus to finish his degree work and to visit with his former Cougars teammates, had dropped by to watch the workout. And he had just received notification of an unexpected financial windfall. Coleman could barely hear agent Doug Hendrickson on his cell phone and so he asked him to repeat the message.
Sure enough, when the numbers Hendrickson read to him didn't change the second time, Coleman couldn't help himself.
"Yeah, I screamed so loud, everyone turned and looked at me," said Coleman. "It was a little bit embarrassing. And then honestly, I almost cried, I was so happy."
The source of all this emotion: Coleman is the big winner for the 2004 season (to the tune of $227,625) in the NFL's "performance based pay" program.
Fifty-six players received "performance based pay" bonuses of $100,000 or more for the 2004 season. Earning $130,000 or more were:
Player -- Team -- Amount
FS Erik Coleman, Jets, $227,000
OT Shane Olivea, Chargers, $171,000
OG R. Wells, Cardinals, $151,000
C A. Stepanovich, Cardinals, $149,000
CB Kelly Herndon, Broncos, $147,000
CB Randall Gay, Patriots, $145,000
FS Will Demps, Ravens, $143,000
OG Jacob Bell, Titans, $136,000
SS Willie Pile, Chiefs, $136,000
C Daniel Koppen, Patriots, $135,000
OT David Diehl, Giants, $133,000
CB Terrence McGee, Bills, $133,000
LB Scott Fujita, Chiefs, $132,000
FS Brian Russell, Vikings, $132,000
OT Seth Wand, Texans, $131,000
Implemented as part of the 2002 extension to the collective bargaining agreement, the purpose of the PBP program was to establish a fund (with the money coming from league revenues) that primarily supplements salaries of players whose playing time in a given season is disproportionate to their compensation. And certainly Coleman, a fifth-round pick in the 2004 draft and a guy who performed well beyond that middle-level status in his first season with the Jets, was a worthy poster child for how the system functions.