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League says Utecht decision proves value of arbitration

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When writing about former Bengals tight end Ben Utecht’s successful arbitration against the team for his full 2009 salary following a training-camp concussion, we suggested that the outcome actually helps the NFL in its defense against concussion lawsuits filed by thousands of former players.

The NFL has now done more than suggest it.

“The decision demonstrates that our collective bargaining agreements provide players with comprehensive remedies for football-related injuries, including injuries related to concussions,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement forwarded to PFT.

There’s a bit of apples and oranges at play here, since Utecht (who also played for the Colts) didn’t file an arbitration claim alleging the NFL concealed from him the dangers of concussions or failed to protect him from getting one.  Instead, the arbitration claim focused solely on whether he should have been cleared to return to play at any point during the 2009 regular season.

Still, the fact that the underlying injury was a concussion and Utecht used the arbitration process to get relief shows that a system is there for players who think their rights were violated by the league or one of its teams.

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