Former NFL receiver David Givens has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Tennessee Titans, according to Jim Wyatt and Gary Estwick of the Tennessean.
Givens, who played on two Patriots Super Bowl championship teams, claims that the team withheld medical information and encouraged him to play despite having knowledge that his knee could not withstand NFL football.
Specifically, Givens says that he wasn’t told about the results of a March 2006 examination by Dr. Tomas Byrd, who concluded that Givens’ knee “may need surgery at some point” and that Givens “probably” would not be able to finish a full season due to a “large defect” where the femur connects to the knee.
But here’s where it gets strange. Despite that assessment, the Titans signed Givens to a contract, and they paid him a $6 million signing bonus in 2006 and a $2 million roster bonus in 2007. He was eventually released on February 27, 2008.
Still, Givens played in only five games of the 2006 season before injuring his knee. He has not since played football because, according to the lawsuit, “it was ultimately determined that the previously-known lesion and defect in his knee had crumbled.”
“The issue is not about money,” agent Brad Blank told the Tennessean. “It’s emotional and physical, and the idea that his
career was cut short. . . . The issue is what could have been done better
and was there some kind of malpractice or negligence.
knee looks awful. Emotionally, in terms of his upbeat nature. . . . He is
also not the happy-go-lucky, affable guy I used to know.”
So the argument apparently will be that, if the Titans had told Givens about the injury, he would have had the surgery before trying to play again.
But, again, the issue didn’t stop the Titans from paying Givens $8 million in bonuses and two years of base salary.
There also are a couple of technical defenses that might apply to the case, regardless of whether the allegations are true. First, the lawsuit might be superseded by the Collective Bargaining Agreement’s grievance procedure. Second, the injury occurred in 2006, and the lawsuit has been filed in 2009. Givens will have to prove that the alleged discovery of the medical record containing the information in February 2009 excuses any potential problems with the statute of limitations, which the Titans likely will argue began to run as of the date of the injury in 2006 — and potentially expired at some point in 2008.
The Titans also might contend that they told Givens about the medical findings, and that he consciously opted to take the $6 million and try to play with it.
So this one could get interesting. And the message to every team not only is to be sure that key medical information has been shared with player, and that proper records are kept documenting the communications.