When it comes to competitive sports, the motivation to succeed is somewhat hard to quantify. It’s generally understood that winning is desirable—the sense of accomplishment certainly produces pleasurable chemical releases in the brain. But that’s not all that tangible.
A $1 million bonus, however, is pretty concrete. And that is what’s on the line Sunday for the Baltimore Ravens’ veteran safety, Eric Weddle. If the Ravens reach the postseason, it triggers a $1 million bonus for doing so in his contract that he signed in 2016.
It would actually be the first time since joining Baltimore that they would have reached the postseason. They have not been to the playoffs since 2014, and have lost in the 16th or 17th weeks of the season in each of the past two years to eliminate themselves.
Still, while an extra $1 million is nice for anybody, no matter how many millions they already have, the intangible gratification of achieving success in your field cannot be underestimated—especially for a player creeping toward the end of his career.
“I would trade $1 million for a chance at the playoffs any second”, Weddle told reporters this week when he was asked about the potential bonus he could earn in a couple of days. “That’s just where I’m at. It’s not that I don’t appreciate money or how much it is, but that’s not my incentive to try to go to win”.
Weddle signed a four-year, $26-million contract with the Ravens in 2016, which included $9 million that was fully guaranteed at signing, according to Over the Cap. His contract also included incentives for nominations to the Pro Bowl and for reaching the postseason. He has gotten the former, but not the latter.
“I want a chance at getting to the Super Bowl”, he said. “I also want everyone to experience the playoffs. That’s where my focus is”, Weddle concluded before adding that the money “is just icing on the cake if we get it done”.
Much of the Ravens’ roster has never experienced postseason play, which is understandable when you don’t reach the postseason for three consecutive years. In fact, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only team in the division that has made it to the next round in the past two seasons.
In order to change that, all they have to do is beat the Cleveland Browns, which is a more difficult task than it has been for many years. If they fail to do that, they will still have the opportunity to win the division should the Steelers fail to handle their own business against the Cincinnati Bengals.