A football game will be played tonight at Raley Field as the United Football League plods forward amid financial uncertainty and mounting concern that the league is on the brink of collapse.
The Sacramento Mountain Lions will host the Las Vegas Locomotives at 6 p.m., but how many athletes and fans show up remains uncertain.
At least two Mountain Lions players turned in their gear and walked away from the franchise this week, angry that they had not been paid their full game checks. Some were paid for the first time through two weeks of action, receiving $1,000 checks this week. The UFL per-game salary is $3,500.
Sacramento owner Paul Pelosi was not available for comment today. He did say in a CBS Sports Network TV interview on Friday that players across the league had yet to be paid to that point, adding, "We guarantee that they will be paid ... and we're going to do that very soon."
Bill Mayer, owner of the defending champion Virginia Destroyers and the acting UFL president, said in a statement: "We understand our obligation as it relates to compensating players within the week following our games and it is our intention to honor that obligation."
Las Vegas has two Sacramento-area players, linebacker Keith Lewis of Valley High School and tight end Spencer Havner of Nevada Union. Both played in the NFL and both want to return. And both are waiting to be paid for two games of work, they said in phone interviews with The Bee.
"I'm kind of indifferent," Havner said. "I'm not really doing this for instant cash, but more for game film to see if I can get back into the NFL, or to see if I really want to keep playing this sport."
Havner said the Las Vegas team has remained united.
"It helps that we're 2-0," he said. "We don't want to be the ones who quit on this team and this league and cause it to fold. But we're hearing there's a possibility it could fold."
Said Lewis, "We can only control what we can control as players, but getting paid is on a lot of people's minds. Our coaches are helping keep things at ease. We have to keep it in perspective and understand that this has happened before with late checks, but players have always been paid.
"For most of us, we're all trying to audition for an NFL job, and do what you can as a player."
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