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Utecht wins concussion arbitration against the Bengals

Utecht Getty Images

In a development that could actually undermine the concussion lawsuits filed by thousands of former players, former Bengals tight end Ben Utecht has won an arbitration proceeding filed after he suffered a serious concussion during training camp in 2009.

The arbitration focused on whether Utecht could have been cleared to play at any point in the 2009 season.  The Bengals argued that he could have been cleared, which would have reduced their obligation to pay his salary for the entire year.  Utecht argued, successfully, that he should not have been cleared, and that he should have received his full salary.

The arbitrator agreed with Utecht, ordering the Bengals to pay his full salary for the 2009 season.

The money at issue was relatively small in the grand scheme of things, given that Utecht was released from injured reserve by the Bengals in mid-November of 2009.  The fact that the Bengals would even fight over an issue that arose only weeks after the NFL embarked on a series of sweeping changes aimed at ensuring players with concussions are kept out of harm’s way until healed illustrates that the organization remains, to put it gently, extremely careful with money.

Still, the outcome proves that the NFL and NFLPA have crafted internal procedures that are available for players who have grievances regarding concussions.  That remains the threshold defense to the concussion lawsuits, with a ruling now expected in September — unless the parties settle the case via mediation.

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13 Responses to “Utecht wins concussion arbitration against the Bengals”
  1. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Jul 10, 2013 12:23 PM

    I’m glad Utecht won this. His career ended too early and he seems like a really good guy. And if you haven’t heard him sing, it’s worth looking up.

  2. skoobyfl says: Jul 10, 2013 12:27 PM

    He’s singing all the way to the bank now.

  3. reeggss says: Jul 10, 2013 12:31 PM

    Good for Utecht, will the bengals organization ever “get it”? They filed this suit for less than a mil and further tarnished their name in society and NFL. When courting free agents these things do matter, some teams are able to save money by offering things other than money. Only way bengals get players to play for that ownership is by over paying. Players know ownership will choke them out of any dollar they can get. Players also know that there is a higher demand to play for teams like NE and they DON’T hold all the cards in contract negotiations.

  4. wtgriffin says: Jul 10, 2013 12:48 PM

    Cheap is not the issue here. Yes, Mike Brown is the cheapest owner in the NFL. The reason for fighting Utect is a contract issue. The man loves contracts and negotation – see the sweethart stadium deal. I am no Mike Brown fan, but it is lazy to use the “cheap” label. He has fought the league and other teams over non-financial issues around contracts with the same vigor as financially based disputes. To the detriment of himself and the team Mike will hold firm to contracts even it does not make sense. As in this case, Brown looks like a jerk, but he does not care, as long as the contracted rights are upheld. The whole indoor practice facility issue was just stupid, but he had a contract so yipee! Brown just can’t let that Harvard Law School education go, even when it makes sense to do so.

  5. Kaz says: Jul 10, 2013 1:03 PM

    Utecht was the Colts problem. He shouldn’t have even been signed with his past concussion history. One small hit the first week of training camp and he was done. Bengals should pay, and hopefully they learned when they fired the training staff after that season.

  6. Kaz says: Jul 10, 2013 1:09 PM

    Right. wtgriffin. Pundits forget the 100+ million he gave Carson (one of the first qb’s to break that mark). The money he gave away to Bryant (8 million for not even practicing a down). The big contracts to Whit, Peko, Hall. The big money Geathers has made over the years. I wish his cheapness overrulled him he re-signed Rey. Some pundits (especially those Steeler fans ie: Flo) just love to call him cheap and they have some reason, but to claim he’s cheap with everything financial that pops up with the Organization just isn’t completely true. But it’s like Bengals arrest jokes of 2006. Outdated yes, funny….not since 2007, hard to let go of….. Obviously.

  7. wwwmattcom says: Jul 10, 2013 1:11 PM

    I use to love the NFL, before I new it was a business. Now I just cringe.

  8. walkinginthewasteland says: Jul 10, 2013 1:21 PM

    reeggss says: Jul 10, 2013 12:31 PM

    Good for Utecht, will the bengals organization ever “get it”? They filed this suit for less than a mil and further tarnished their name in society and NFL.

    _______________

    Um, the Bengals name can’t be further tarnished.

  9. justintuckrule says: Jul 10, 2013 1:45 PM

    Two totally different issues. The mega suit is about the NFL withholding vital information that made it impossible for the players to make an informed decision to play. Utecht’s suit is about salary. Just because the word “concussion” is involved in both suits does not make the cases the same.

  10. indywilson40 says: Jul 10, 2013 2:51 PM

    Ben Utecht rhymes with genuflect. I’m not sure why that is important. It’s probably not important at all.

  11. jcioffi1485 says: Jul 10, 2013 3:02 PM

    Personally I am happy Utect won his salary. As a Bengal fan I am offended at those who say the Bengals are cheap. That’s BS. They are actually too loyal and too generous.

    Only 7 players in Bengal history outplayed what they earned. They would be Ken Anderson, Isaac Curtis, Bob Trumpy, James Brooks, Boomer Esiason, Chris Collinsworth and now Geno Atkins.

    One year Steeler players would rip Bengal players like Ross Browner for actually laughing and taking off plays. List every draft bust the Bengals have had in the last 35 years! Then think about all of money that was squandered on people who took the money and ran.

    If anything, Mike Brown has been foolish with his money through the years. I guess he wasn’t so cheap with:

    *Sam Adams
    *Ross Browner
    *Antonio Bryant
    *Wilson Whitley
    *Glenn Cameron
    *David Verser
    *Peter Warrick
    *Akili Smith
    *David Klingler
    *Dan Wilkerson

    Yes…a poor judge of talent who throws his millions on the undeserving and the washed up!

  12. GenoAtkinswillnotbestopped says: Jul 10, 2013 3:35 PM

    I read this article just to see what kind of drivel would seep out of the guy from Canada.

    Kaz – you nailed it.

  13. ajgreenhof says: Jul 10, 2013 5:23 PM

    Good for Utecht he’s a good guy.

    Call the Bengals cheap if you want but its gonna pay off when we have to re-sign Atkins and Green. The Bengals pay their own well they just haven’t had anyone worth paying until recently.

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