Category Archives: Contracts

Why The Raiders May Hold The Keys To The A’s Leaving Oakland

Earlier today, the NFL sent out a press release notifying members of the media that the October 6 San Diego Chargers versus Oakland Raiders game would be postponed by seven hours and begin at 11:35 p.m. ET.  Other than the obvious–that this move may make this week five match-up the latest game in NFL history–other implications possibly arise from this move by the NFL.

As the press release continued, the reason for the game delay was made known.  The NFL wrote, “The move was made in response to today’s announcement by Major League Baseball of its ALDS schedule which has the Oakland A’s hosting a game on Saturday, October 5 at 6:07 PM (PT).  The Raiders share the O.co Coliseum with the A’s and the Coliseum requires time to convert back into a football stadium in order to host the game.”

What the NFL didn’t note in its release, is that the Raiders and the A’s are the only NFL and MLB teams respectively that share the same coliseum on a full-time basis.  What the release also didn’t note is the looming issue facing Oakland:  That one or both of its franchises may be hitting the road for new homes.

The Raiders’ current lease agreement is set to expire after the 2013 season.  To date, the Raiders have not announced where they will play beginning in 2014.  However, reports indicate that the team has expressed interest in building a new stadium on the current stadium’s site.  While this proposal is attractive to the city of Oakland, as it keeps the Raiders in town, it is problematic, as construction of a new coliseum could push the A’s out.

Like the Raiders, the A’s are in the last year of their lease with the coliseum.  It is no secret that the A’s wish to leave Oakland and relocate to San Jose.  However, territorial rights that the team previously ceded to the San Francisco Giants have prevented MLB from approving this move.  This, in turn, has resulted in litigation against MLB from parties including the city of San Jose.  Needless to say, from a legal and team perspective alike, the A’s way to San Jose is not clearly paved.

It is perhaps of no surprise that the Raiders desire to build a new stadium.  Originally opened in 1966 and most recently renovated over a decade ago in 1996, the Raiders and A’s have both recently raised concerns over the current state of the Oakland Coliseum.  The concerns were punctuated this season by sewage overflows the stadium’s visitor dugout and coaches’ bathroom.  Perhaps, though, the current state of the stadium was best described by current MLB commissioner, Bud Selig, when he referred to it as “a pit.”

The surprise, though, arguably lies in the Raiders’ willingness to rebuild on the current coliseum’s location.  In making the desire to move to San Jose known, the A’s have continuously lamented over the fact that the Oakland Coliseum is not surrounded by a vibrant downtown community.  The argument, from the A’s perspective, is that if the team played in a stadium surrounded by a downtown, ticket sales would increase, as fans would be more easily able to pop into the ballpark.

That argument aside, with the Giants’ territorial rights holding up a move to San Jose, reports indicate that the A’s have begun negotiating a new lease agreement with the Oakland Coliseum.  While some may see this move as the A’s waiving the white flag and succumbing to life in Oakland, the Raiders may slowly riding in as the A’s knight in shining armor.  The shield that the Raiders hold in this case, is that team’s desire to build a new facility on the current coliseum site.

The A’s have made it clear that they have no desire to rebuild or build a new stadium on the current coliseum site.  Thus, if the Raiders’ new stadium plan is approved the possibility exists that the A’s will be left without a place to play when construction is ongoing.  Thus, if this situation arises, might MLB be more inclined to allow the team to move to San Jose?

Who knew that the postponement of an NFL game could be the first move in a potential chain of events that may pave the way for an A’s move to San Jose?

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How NFL Draft Picks Affect An NFL Team’s Salary Cap

As the names of young men are called from the podium on the Radio City Music Hall stage tonight, draft experts and team’s front offices will consider how their picks will impact their team’s salary cap.  The 2013 NFL salary cap is set at $123 million.  The rookies a team drafts and subsequently signs to a contract will have salaries that will be counted under their respective team’s salary cap.  Given this, an understanding of the salary cap and the role rookies’ contracts play in it is important going into the NFL Draft.

First, one must consider how the NFL arrives at its salary cap.  The salary cap is a collectively bargained amount that is a percentage of what the NFL calls “all revenues.”  Article 12 of the NFL collective bargaining agreement defines what is considered “all revenues.”  Essentially, “all revenues” equals gate receipts + copyright royalties + concession revenues + parking revenues + local advertisement and sponsor revenues + internet operations and program sale revenues + novelty revenues + NFL Ventures revenues + barter income + equity instruments + revenues related to stadium releases based on non-NFL activities + recoveries under business interruption insurance policies + expense reimbursements from government entities + proceeds from rights to receive.

After accountants determine the “all revenue” number, that amount is subdivided into three categories to calculate something called the “player cost amount.”  We’ll discuss the “player cost amount” in greater detail below, but it is one factor used in calculating the NFL’s salary cap.  The three sub-categories that “all revenue” is divided into are:  league media, NFL Ventures/postseason and local all revenue.  Specific revenues that make up “all revenue,” as calculated above, are put into each of the three buckets.

Once “all revenue” is subdivided into the three buckets, “player cost amount” is calculated.  “Player cost amount” equals 55% of league media all revenue + 45% of NFL Ventures/postseason all revenue and 40% of local all revenue.

Accountants also calculate the amount of benefits teams pay to players.  These benefits include:  pensions, insurance, injury protection, workers’ compensation, preseason per diem accounts, travel expenses for offseason workouts, rookie orientation program expenses, postseason pay, medical costs, moving and travel expenses, severance pay, annuity programs, tuition assistance, minimum salary benefits, performance based pools, health reimbursement accounts, payments to players suffering from dementia, legacy benefits and the neuro-cognitive disability benefit.

The salary cap can be calculated once the values described above are determined.  The salary cap amount equals the “player cost amount” for the year – the projected benefits for the year divided by the number of teams in the league for the given year.

Once the salary cap is determined, teams must begin working to comply with the salary cap.  The collective bargaining agreement defines salary as “the compensation in money, property, investments, loans or anything else of value to which an NFL player. . . is entitled to. . . but not including benefits.”  Teams must comply with the salary cap on the first day of the league year.  No team can exceed the amount of the salary cap.  Additionally, the new collective bargaining requirement requires each individual team to spend at least 89 percent of the salary cap’s limit.

While a team must comply with the terms of the salary cap, there is a sub-category of the salary cap that relates especially to rookies.  Teams must not only be under the NFL salary cap, but they cannot spend an amount greater than the “rookie compensation pool.”  The rookie compensation pool was a term negotiated during the course of the most recent collective bargaining negotiations, which essentially limits the amount of money all NFL rookies can earn during the course of their first four seasons in the NFL.  Each year, the NFL designates an amount for the total rookie compensation pool and teams are told, based on their draft slots, how much money they get from the pool.  Teams are given enough from the pool to pay players at least the NFL minimum salary ($405,000 in 2013) plus, if applicable, bonuses based on a sliding scale depending upon a player’s draft spot.  Thus, teams must work to comply not only with the salary cap, but to ensure that the contracts they offer rookies are within the limits of the rookie compensation pool is applicable to their team.

Upon drafting a rookie, a team is charged with that rookie’s salary under its cap space immediately.  The amount charged to the team is the minimum active list salary.  This year, that amount is $405,000.  For each rookie a team signs, this amount will count against its cap space until the player, the team waives the player or the player remains unsigned through the tenth week of the regular season.  If the player is signed, the amount of cap space taken by the rookie could increase, as bonuses or incentives may be included in the player’s contract.  If the player is waived or unsigned, the $405,000 will not count against the team’s cap space.

The fact that only the minimum active list salary counts against a team’s salary cap space upon drafting a rookie is notable.  There are a handful of teams that have very limited salary cap space presently available.  Thus, if these teams had to add in bonuses they plan on paying rookies at this point, they would be over the salary cap.  Furthermore, it is also of note that only the salaries of a team’s top-51 paid players count against the team’s salary cap during the off-season.  Thus, teams have a fair amount of time to cut players, renegotiate contracts or make trades to get under the salary cap before all players’ salaries count against the cap when the NFL season begins.  It is for this reason that although drafted by a team, most rookies do not sign contracts until later in the summer or after training camp.

While the NFL salary cap is a complicated topic which takes years of training to understand, the basis of it and how it impacts a team’s rookies is relatively simple.  Given this, it will be interesting to watch and see when teams actually sign their rookies and the amount of bonuses they receive.

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The Effectiveness of the NFL’s Three-Day Unrestricted Free Agent Negotiating Window

At 4:00 p.m. ET today, the 2013 NFL free agency signing period kicks off.  For NFL fans, general managers and players alike, the signing period marks one of the most exciting times of the NFL year.  It is a time where teams can rebuild rosters to further Super Bowl hopes and players can seek out new opportunities to build a lasting legacy in the league.

This year, the possibility exists that there will be a flurry of activity shortly after the start of the signing period.  This is due to the fact that this year marks the first time that a three-day negotiating window was opened before the start of the signing period.  During this time, NFL teams were allowed to contact and negotiate with agents for this year’s unrestricted free agents.  This period served only as a negotiation window, and teams and agents were not allowed to execute contracts until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12.  In fact, the NFL even sent out a memorandum warning teams of “tampering” and reminding them that agreements between players and teams could not be reached during the three-day window.

Due to the fact that teams and agents had a chance to possibly hash out many of the details surrounding a player’s contract, chances are that some players will be ready to sign shortly after 4:00 p.m. ET.  However, signing an unrestricted free agent quickly after the start of the signing period may lead the NFL and other clubs to believe that tampering occurred.  As such, it is to be seen which team announces that it has signed the first unrestricted free agent of the 2013 free agent class.  Then, it will be seen whether the NFL and other clubs are satisfied that the respective agreement was made outside of the course of the three-day negotiating window and within the signing period.

Another reason why the three-day negotiation window may preclude a flurry of activity today, is during the window, unrestricted free agents were not allowed to visit other teams and could not have direct contact with team employees.  Thus, chances are that this negotiation window only represented a chance for agents to better test the market for their clients.  Due to the fact that many players are hands-on when it comes to selecting where they play, chances are most players want to get on the ground at a potential team’s site and visit with personnel from the team to learn how their presence on the team will be utilized.

Given these factors, the question exists as to whether this three-day negotiation window was necessary.  If teams and players were unable to reach agreements on various terms of a prospective contract, what is the point of negotiating?  If anything, the purpose the three-day negotiation window serves for both sides is an information grab.  By negotiating with a variety of teams during the window, unrestricted free agents can get a jump on getting an idea of where their best offer may lie.  Similarly, by negotiating with a variety of players, teams can get a sense of who best fills their team’s position needs and at what price tag.

Most agents and team executives would tell you that too much information is never a bad thing.  As such, it’s likely that the NFL will continue allowing the three-day negotiation window.  However, expect teams and agents to press forward for the right to reach agreements during the course of the window.  The NFL is unlikely to allow this, as it will argue that in doing so, the negotiation window essentially becomes a signing period.  Nonetheless, the three-day negotiation window has presented one more story line for NFL fans to watch this season, as they can now wait to see which unrestricted free agent is scooped up by a team the fastest.

 

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NFL Injury Report: Ryan Matthews’ Collarbone Fracture

Each week, RulingSports.com will analyze one NFL player’s injury.  Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. Mandy Huggins (Twitter:  @HugginsMD), will provide medical analysis of the injury.  Alicia Jessop will then break down some of the contract ramifications of the injury.

Dr. Mandy Huggins’ Medical Analysis

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews unfortunately suffered yet another injury on Sunday, this time a left clavicle (collarbone) fracture. As you may recall, he suffered a fracture of the right clavicle during the preseason. Clavicle fractures are classified by location of fracture: distal (outer) third, middle third, or proximal (closer to the midline) third. The location of Mathews’ fracture has not been reported, but it is most likely in the middle third. These fractures occur with direct trauma or after a fall onto the shoulder and are very painful. Localized pain, swelling, and a deformity (bump) are seen, and x-rays confirm the diagnosis. Unless the ends of the bone are significantly displaced (do not line up with one another), most clavicle fractures heal fairly well in 4-6 weeks. There is a period of immobilization, though, to allow the bone to heal back together. Needless to say, Mathews will be out for the remainder of the season.

Alicia Jessop’s Contract Analysis

Matthews was signed to a five-year deal by the Chargers in 2010.  Matthews’ contract is worth $25.65 million contract and includes $15 million in guarantees.  The good news for Matthews, thus, is that a significant portion of his contract is guaranteed, so he arguably will not be hurting financially.  The bad news, though, is several things.  First, the bulk of Matthews’ base salary in his contract comes in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, where he’ll earn $1,195,500 and $1,478,250 in base salary, respectively, on top of other bonuses built into those years.  Thus, it is of utmost importance that Matthews fully rehabs so that he can come back in 2013 and play through 2014.  Additionally, another issue is that his continuous bouts with injuries may hurt his earnings potential moving forward.  Matthews was targeted as being the “heir apparent” for LaDainian Tomlinson.  If he continues to be dealt the blow of injuries though, he may not surpass L.T.’s career success.

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NFL Injury Report: Fred Jackson’s MCL Injury

Each week, RulingSports.com will analyze one NFL player’s injury.  Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. Mandy Huggins (Twitter:  @HugginsMD), will provide medical analysis of the injury.  Alicia Jessop will then break down some of the contract ramifications of the injury.

Dr. Mandy Huggins’ Medical Analysis

Fred Jackson, RB for the Buffalo Bills, left the game Sunday with a right knee injury. It was later reported that he has a grade II medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury and will not return for the rest of the season.

The MCL provides stability on the medial, or inside, portion of the knee joint. It originates on the end of the femur (thigh bone) and inserts onto the tibia (shin bone). Similarly, there is a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) on the outside portion of the knee that provides lateral stability. Injuries to the MCL usually occur as a result of valgus force to the knee (think of this as pressure from lateral to medial; for example, in the right knee, the force would be from right to left). They are classified into grade I, II, or III injuries. A grade I injury is a mild sprain with pain but no laxity or instability. A grade II injury involves more severe injury to the ligament with some medial laxity seen, whereas a grade III injury involves more extensive or complete tearing of the ligament. Fortunately, surgery is typically not required, but the length of recovery is more prolonged with more severe injuries. Treatment includes a hinged knee brace for support and protection, as well as a period of rehabilitation for range of motion and strength.

Alicia Jessop’s Contract Analysis

While there arguably is never a good time for an injury in the NFL, the good news for Jackson is that he just signed a three-year contract extension in May.  That contract extension was worth $8.7 million.  This is arguably good news, as if he were looking for a contract extension or new contract after this season, he would likely be offered significantly less money.  Jackson was plagued by injury throughout the season, which is demonstrated by his career-low 3.8 yards per carry average. 

Even though Jackson signed a contract extension, only $3 million of the $8.7 million is guaranteed.  His base salaries in 2013 and 2014 are $2.15 million and $2.45 million, respectively.  In each of those years, his contract also allows for extensive bonuses.  Thus, in order for him to truly receive the “bang” out of his contract extension, Jackson needs to return next season.

One thing about Jackson, is that he is certainly a fighter.  Originally undrafted out of a Division III school, in his five seasons in the NFL, Jackson has racked up impressive stats.  Furthermore, he has previously suffered and returned from a season-ending leg injury.  So, one can expect that Jackson will rehab and be back on the gridiron next year.

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NFL Injury Report: Brian Urlacher’s Leg Injury

Each week, RulingSports.com will analyze one NFL player’s injury.  Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. Mandy Huggins (Twitter:  @HugginsMD), will provide medical analysis of the injury.  Alicia Jessop will then break down some of the contract ramifications of the injury.

Dr. Mandy Huggins’ Medical Analysis

The media is already speculating about the leg injury sustained by Chicago LB Brian Urlacher on Sunday, reporting today that the team has already signed another linebacker. Apparently Urlacher sustained a right hamstring injury late in the game against the Seahawks, although this has yet to be confirmed.

Hamstring strains are usually classified as grade I (mild), grade II (moderate), or grade III (severe). The hamstring muscle group consists of three large muscles: biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. Strains most commonly occur in the biceps femoris, and the onset is usually sudden, for example, while sprinting. Age (Urlacher is 34), fatigue, and a history of previous hamstring injury increase one’s risk for another injury. After a hamstring injury, the athlete will complain of difficulty walking, localized pain (followed by swelling and maybe bruising), and decreased strength against resistance. Imaging is not required unless a complete tear (grade III) is suspected. However, ultrasound or MRI can be used to help determine the extent of the injury and predict length of recovery. Imaging in Urlacher’s case has not been reported. Treatment includes rest from competition, stretching, and soft tissue therapy followed by progressive strengthening and core stability work. Specifically, eccentric exercises (slow, controlled lengthening of the muscle) have been shown to decrease the risk of hamstring injuries. There is no set time table for return to sport, as all hamstring injuries are different. However, full range of motion, full strength, and optimal performance on functional testing must be demonstrated before return can be considered.

Alicia Jessop’s Contract Analysis

Urlacher is in the final year of his deal with the Chicago Bears, and as such, this injury arguably could not have come at a worse time.  However, the one upside of the timing of his injury is that it comes late in the season and he will have an entire off-season to heal, if need be.  The Bears’ defense has largely relied upon Urlacher’s talents in recent years, so he and his agent can use this, along with status updates on his recovery to negotiate a new contract with the Bears or other teams.  However, as with any player, injuries factor heavily into a team’s decision as to whether or not enter into a lengthy and lucrative deal.

 

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NFL Injury Report: Fred Davis’ Ruptured Achilles Tendon

Each week, RulingSports.com will analyze one NFL player’s injury.  Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. Mandy Huggins (Twitter:  @HugginsMD), will provide medical analysis of the injury.  Alicia Jessop will then break down some of the contract ramifications of the injury.

Dr. Mandy Huggins’ Medical Analysis

One of the more notable injuries recently in the NFL was that of Fred Davis, tight end for the Washington Redskins. He reportedly ruptured his Achilles tendon in the first quarter while running a route into the end zone.

The Achilles is a large tendon that connects the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone (calcaneus). It is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. Achilles tendon ruptures occur more commonly in men between the ages of 30 and 50, and up to 75% of them occur during sport or activity. It has been reported that Davis did not previously have any trouble with Achilles, which is often the case. These injuries can be treated surgically or conservatively, and there is ongoing debate in the literature about which method of treatment is better. That being said, professional athletes typically undergo surgical repair because it is thought that there is a smaller chance of re-rupture. Davis had surgery in Charlotte to have his Achilles tendon repaired. Although early mobilization after surgery is more commonly encouraged these days, a full recovery will still require months, so he will not return to play this season.

Alicia Jessop’s Contract Analysis

A season-ending injury is never welcome news for an NFL player or his team.  This season, because of the franchise tag, Davis will earn his fully guaranteed salary of $5.446 million.  Davis and the Redskins were unable to reach a long-term contract last off-season.  As such, at the end of this season he will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, unless the Redskins use the franchise tag on him again.  Therefore, Davis must zealously rehab and show commitment to coming back from injury.  If he is able to do this, it is likely that another team will pick him up next season.

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NFL Injury Report: Ray Lewis’ Triceps Rupture

Each week, RulingSports.com will analyze one NFL player’s injury.  Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. Mandy Huggins (Twitter:  @HugginsMD), will provide medical analysis of the injury.  Alicia Jessop will then break down some of the contract ramifications of the injury.

Dr. Mandy Huggins’ Medical Analysis

Ray Lewis left late in the game Sunday against the Cowboys with a right arm injury. Apparently he was in too much pain for the medical team to get a good exam, but there was suspicion of at least some degree of tearing in the triceps. Today (Monday) it was confirmed by MRI that Lewis, now 37 years old, has a complete rupture of the triceps.

The triceps brachii is the muscle at the back of the arm that extends (straightens) the arm at the elbow. The tendon inserts at the back of the elbow. Triceps injuries are pretty rare and are usually the result of injury. There is usually a visible or palpable defect (meaning you can see or feel it on exam), but in the case of a professional athlete, MRI or ultrasound can be obtained to confirm the diagnosis. Acute ruptures of the triceps will require surgical intervention. Unfortunately for Lewis, that means his season is over.

Alicia Jessop’s Contract Analysis

As Dr. Huggins noted, Lewis is 37-years-old.  Playing in the NFL at the level he was competing at is truly an athletic feat.  Lewis is currently in the middle of a six-year, $42.5 million contract that is set to expire after the 2015 season.  Lewis still has much to earn under his contract:  with salaries of $5.4 million, $5.85 million and $6.3 million remaining between 2013-2015.

Arugably, having $17.5 million left on the table to earn under his contract should be incentive for Lewis to rehab at a level to necessary to allow his return next season.  However, it is to be seen if his age will allow that to happen.  Nonetheless, anyone who knows Lewis likely believes his return to the game to happen.

Signed to a six-year, $42.5 havingmillion contract that runs through the 2015 season, Lewis is due base salaries of $5.4 million in 2013, $5.85 million in 2014 and $6.3 million in 2015.

That includes corresponding salary-cap figures of $7.3 million, $6.5 million and $6.7 million in those years for the 13-time Pro Bowl selection.

So, if the Ravens were to cut Lewis or he retired after this season and they timed all of the acceleration of the remaining proration of his $6.25 million signing bonus, option bonus of $1.25 million and second option bonus of $2 million, they would realize a total salary-cap savings of $4.35 million for the 2013 NFL fiscal year with no future dead money.

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NFL Injury Report: Jake Locker’s Shoulder Injury

Each week, RulingSports.com will analyze one NFL player’s injury.  Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. Mandy Huggins (Twitter:  @HugginsMD), will provide medical analysis of the injury.  Alicia Jessop will then break down some of the contract ramifications of the injury.

Dr. Mandy Huggins’ Medical Analysis

In week 1 against the Patriots, Titans QB Jake Locker dislocated his left shoulder after attempting to make a tackle. In week 4 against the Texans, Locker went down again with yet another left shoulder injury. According to NFL.com, he sustained the same injury, a dislocation. Fortunately for Locker, his left arm is his non-throwing arm, so there is a good chance that this won’t need immediate attention. However, it is yet to be determined if he’ll be back in time for next weekend’s game against the Vikings.

To put this injury in simple terms, let’s think of the shoulder as a “ball and socket” joint. The top of the arm, or the humeral head, is the “ball” while the “socket” is a bone called the glenoid. The glenoid is actually part of the scapula, or shoulder blade. When imagining the “socket,” think of a golf tee because that’s how shallow it is. There are many ligaments, tendons, muscles, and a capsule around the joint to keep it from slipping out of place. However, with trauma, the shoulder can dislocate, or “pop out,” as people like to say. If little time passes between the dislocation and evaluation by the medical team, the shoulder can usually be reduced, or put back into place, as was the case with Locker after he left the field Sunday.  It’s not a pain-free procedure.

Although dislocations can be reduced, it is important to remember that damage can occur to associated structures. These include fractures of the humeral head (arm bone) or the glenoid. It is also possible to sustain a tear of the labrum, which is a piece of cartilage that lies on the “socket” side of the joint. The need for surgery usually depends upon these associated injuries after a dislocation or recurrent dislocations. The younger the patient, the more likely the shoulder is to dislocate again, and instability ensues. Depending upon how bad Locker’s symptoms are, and whether or not he’s experiencing significant instability in the shoulder, he may or may not need surgical intervention sooner versus later. That definitely would not be the case if we were discussing his throwing shoulder, so in that regard, he’s lucky.

Alicia Jessop’s Contract Analysis

As Dr. Huggins pointed out, Locker is incredibly lucky that his throwing shoulder was not injured.  However, it is disconcerting that he has now injured the same shoulder twice in one season.  Given that his non-throwing shoulder was injured, it is unlikely that this injury will have any serious contract ramifications in the near future, so long as he makes a full recovery.  However, it is possible that future contracts may include an injury exception for injuries sustained by Locker to his left shoulder.  If such an exception is placed in Locker’s contracts going forward, if he were to sustain an injury to the left shoulder that prevents him from playing, he would not receive his salary for those games.  Given that he has now injured the same shoulder twice in one season, it is likely that teams will demand this waiver from Locker going forward.

Mandy Huggins, MD is a board certified sports medicine physician. She blogs regularly at http://www.drmandyhuggins.com.

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NFL Injury Report: Darrelle Revis’ Season Ending Injury

Each week, RulingSports.com will analyze one NFL player’s injury.  Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. Mandy Huggins (Twitter:  @HugginsMD), will provide medical analysis of the injury.  Alicia Jessop will then break down some of the contract ramifications of the injury.

Dr. Mandy Huggins’ Medical Analysis

In Sunday’s week 3 game against Miami, Darrelle Revis, all-pro cornerback for the Jets, injured his left knee. He fell awkwardly then grabbed his knee during a play in the 3rd quarter. Today, an MRI confirmed the injury: he has a torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, in his left knee. Unfortunately, he will be out for the season, as he will reportedly undergo surgical reconstruction followed by a lengthy rehabilitation program.

The ACL plays a critical role in knee stability, and it is the one knee injury of greatest concern in athletes. The ligament’s role is to resist forward movement of the tibia (shin bone) in relation to the femur (thigh bone), as well as to provide rotational control. Many reports note that Revis’s injury was a “non-contact” injury, meaning there was no impact from another player. ACL ruptures have a non-contact mechanism of injury about 70% of the time. They usually occur during deceleration, pivoting, changing direction or landing from a jump. The athlete commonly hears or feels a “pop” in the knee, which is accompanied by pain and swelling.

There is some debate about treatment for an ACL rupture, depending upon age, activity level, type of sport, associated injuries, etc. Some individuals can regain some amount of stability with rehabilitation, and can avoid surgical reconstruction. However, given the nature of professional football, an NFL player should have his ACL reconstructed if he wishes to play again. The type of activity (e.g., pivoting, cutting, changes in speed) required in football is not amenable to non-operative treatment; an ACL-deficient knee would likely have too much instability to endure these activities. That being said, it should be noted that ACL reconstruction is not a guarantee that he will be able to return to sport.

The surgical procedure for an ACL rupture involves forming a new ACL from another tendon graft. It is performed arthroscopically. Which tendon graft to use as the “new” ACL is also a subject of debate in the literature, however, the most commonly used tendons are hamstring, patellar, or allograft (cadaver tissue) tendons. The timing of the surgery after the injury depends on other factors, such as the amount of swelling or the presence of concomitant injuries in the knee, such as a meniscus tear. It is common for an athlete to undergo rehabilitation before the surgery (“prehabilitation”) to address swelling, quad strengthening, and range of motion. Post-operative rehabilitation protocols, including weight-bearing status, depend upon the type of graft used and concomitant injuries.  Goals again include reducing swelling and maximizing range of motion, strength, and balance. Lastly, the athlete needs to demonstrate readiness with functional and sport-specific activities. Progression through rehab should be individualized to each athlete, so timeframe for return to sport is variable. Maturation of the tendon graft alone takes up to 6 months. But barring any complications, Revis should be ready for football again in 6 to 9 months.

Alicia Jessop’s Contract Analysis

The timing and seriousness of Revis’ injury could not have been worse.  This summer, Revis faced a difficult decision as he entered the final year of his contract.  That decision was to attempt to demand a lucrative new contract by holding out, or rather, report on time to training camp and attempt to earn a lucrative new contract by playing.

Arguably, Revis made the more honorable decision by actually upholding the terms of his current contract and reporting on-time for training camp.  Hopefully, that honor will stand out to the Jets and other teams as representative of Revis’ integrity when the star player begins renegotiating his contract.  The obvious issue though, is that because of his season ending injury, Revis will be unable to put up any numbers after Week 3.  Thus, it is likely that Revis will not renegotiate his contract this season, as any leverage he had was stripped of him because of his injury.

Given this, Revis must dedicate himself fully to his rehabilitation and maintain a rigid training program to stay at the top of his game.  If he returns at the level he was at this season in 2013 (the last year of his contract), he may be able to convince the Jets or other teams into paying him the type of salary he was planning on making next season.  Nonetheless, this injury is an incredibly tough break for Revis.

Mandy Huggins, MD is a board certified sports medicine physician. She blogs regularly at http://www.drmandyhuggins.com.

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