Sports Law Blog
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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

News Update: The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and crying in Philadelphia.

Terrell Owens has won his grievance against the NFL, and will be traded to the Eagles, as demanded. More information will be added later, but it is good to see that a player can miss a deadline met by all others and then claim he is being treated unfairly. Congratulations, Eagles, you have the league's biggest headache on your team.

But, wait, Philadelphia already knows about this because the 76ers have Allen Iverson. Apparently, refusing to do what you are paid millions for is not enough to warrant a punishment in the NBA. Iverson's refusal to come off the bench will not be admonished by the team. Why are there even coaches in the NBA? They clearly have no power, whatsoever.

Finally, staying in the same division as Philadelphia, Washington Redskins linebacker has filed a grievance against the team in an attempt to collect a $6.5 million roster bonus he claims he will be owed.

    Arrington and his agent, Carl Poston, say the roster bonus for 2006 was agreed to by the team but was not included in the eight-year, $68 million extension that Arrington signed in late December. With the bonus, Arrington's contract would be worth $74.5 million. Arrington is requesting that the NFL take his case to arbitration to have the bonus placed in the contract or have the contract voided.

I would say that the parol evidence rule applies in this case (basically, oral agreements are superseded by later written contracts), but the law does not seem to apply in the same manner in professional sports. The agents for Owens and Arrington should be happy the league keeps bailing them out. In both cases, I see clear examples of legal malpractice that could be pursued by the players if not for the influence of the unions. Arrington acts through his agents and the agents initialed every page of the contract before signing it. Unless there is some evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation on the part of the team, why should this contract be re-written or voided? No reason, other than professional athletes tend to get what they want.


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