Don’t Eat the (Red) Herring – More on the Gregg Williams Lawsuit


In case you missed it, I spoke on the Gregg Williams lawsuit in this post over at the excellent Titans SB Nation community website Music City Miracles. A few days have passed and many have weighed in on the topic, so I thought I would post a few additional thoughts. It seems to me too many people are chasing irrelevant issues instead of focusing on the main issue here and that is why Barrett Greene didn’t pursue his rights pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

First, let me address the “Bountygate’ issue. It is completely irrelevant and is only being used as a means to “backdoor’ a lawsuit over an alleged injury that should have been pursued timely and properly. Likewise, the issue of whether or not there is proof of a bounty system that Williams spearheaded or participated in as defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins? Irrelevant. The issue of whether this was a “bounty” hit? Irrelevant as well.

All reports indicate the National Football League isn’t a party to the lawsuit. Regardless, the issue of a lack of evidence of a bounty system in Washington would only be raised as a defense and no lawyer in his right mind would raise that on behalf of Gregg Williams or the Redskins. That would open a Pandora’s box that the league office would surely view unfavorably and it wouldn’t really help the defense. The real issue is why Barrett Greene didn’t timely pursue his rights to be compensated for his injury through the avenues available to him.

The prior CBA which would govern this issue covers disability for any injury incurred as the result of an NFL related activity. To be clear here, the injury alleged here is without question the result of a football related play. The extent to which is was “dirty” or “bounty related” doesn’t change the fact that there is a process and procedure through which the player should have sought compensation pursuant to the CBA.

Furthermore, in March of 2011, the NFL launched a new program designed to meet the disability needs of its former players. Dubbed NFL Player Care, the Joint Replacement Program is designed to assist former players who have sustained knee injuries in the line of football related duty. There are numerous other benefits available under the NFL Player Care Program but there are deadlines associated with such benefits.

When you pull this all together you can see why Greene should have availed himself of the benefits provided by the CBA and the NFL Player Care Program. An injury incurred during the course and scope of a football related play is an injury regardless of whether it is dirty, bounty related, or the plain old rock ’em sock ’em type injury. The results and impact are the same. To the extent there is a deterrent argument here, the league has already addressed that in the form of fines and punishment.

It is complete madness to expect a judge or jury to determine whether an injury incurred as the result of a football play is the result of a dirty, illegal or bounty hit and therefore outside the realm of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. An injury is an injury. Is it made better because the play was legally sanctioned? Worse because there is an argument that is was an illegal or dirty hit? Certainly there is an element of assumption of the risk involved in playing football. It is simply madness to ask a judge or jury to sit back in judgment over the intent behind a football play that results in an injury.

Barrett Greene surely knew he had an injury at the time it happened. He continued to play after the alleged “bounty hit.’ He went through two more training camps. In order to do so, he would have been required to pass a physical. He has been out of football since 2006 and from all appearances hasn’t pursued any of his rights pursuant to the CBA. Something reeks here and it isn’t just the red herring.

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