SirVincent Rogers and Jared Bronson are losers. But they are 7 to 8 thousand dollar losers. The Miami Dolphins on the other hand are losers of 15K and with them , the NFL is also a little bit pissed off.
The Dolphins had filed a grievance in the attempt to recover the 15K that was handed out to the two quitters last year when they signed the un-drafted rookies from “I really don’t care”. Both players accepted their bonus money to sign their name on the dotted line, and both players quit the team during training camp taking the dough with them.
On Sunday, a special “Masters” hearing was held to determine if the Dolphins should get that money back. The judge in the case, ruled against the Dolphins and in essence the rest of the NFL because of his claim citing specific language in the CBA that is designed to actually protect quitters. The Dolphins tried to avoid this problem by submitting language of their own into the contract.
“In the event Player fails or refuses to report to Club, or fails or refuses to practice or play with Club at any time for any reason including Player’s suspension by the NFL or Club for Conduct Detrimental or suspension for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, Personal Conduct Policy, Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances, or leaves Club without its consent during the duration of the above league years, then player shall be in default. In the event of Player’s default, upon demand by Club, Player shall immediately return and refund to the Club any of the Bonus previously paid by Club and Player shall relinquish the right to receive any unpaid Bonus in the proportionate amount set forth below.” From PFT.com
So it’s obvious why the Dolphins are a little cheesed right now but the NFL? Well, this is a precedent that frankly could push the CBA negotiations into a larger divide. Teams are tired of shelling out money to players who get jailed, get suspended, demand trades, and like these two, quit. There is nothing that the ball clubs can do.
They negotiate the contracts just as much as the players do and the players expect to get paid what they are “guaranteed”. The problem is that some players are not “guaranteeing” their end either.
It was only about 6 years ago that a similar ruling went in the Dolphins favor when they sought reimbursement from one Ricky Williams. A judge then advocated that Ricky was indeed in breach of his contract when he decided to “retire” prior to the 2004 season. Apparently, things have changed.
This is not about the argument that there is no loyalty in sports anymore. This is not about cutting veterans in favor of younger players or veterans holding out for big contracts. This is about the simplest of contract details. I will give you this to report here, if you don’t show up or you quit, why the hell should I pay you anything other than the tiny little weekly check you already got?
This level of precedence makes me wonder how many more “I don’t want to play pro-football” athletes will simply look at this and see a way to get a little bit of money for nothing. Isn’t that the American way? Sure as hell seems like it sometimes.
For my money, I side with the NFL and the Miami Dolphins on this, and to hell with the quitters and the judge who saw fit to side with them. Hopefully they will attempt to appeal this judgement. It’s not about some 15K that the big bad NFL team can’t afford, it’s about the precedence of allowing players to walk out of a contract with no repercussions.
Of course I’m sure by now neither one could afford to pay back their bonuses…likely blown on pizza, beer, and McDonalds.