When A Redundancy Is Not So Redundant

The Philadelphia Eagles' wide Receiver Terrell Owens, arguably the best in the NFL at his position, wants to renegotiate his contract with a whopping 6 years left on the deal. He's caught a lot of grief for appearing selfish and potentially rocking the boat on a Super Bowl team. (He's caught grief on other things as well, like questionable remarks about teammates, but we won't get into those here.) I just want to address the critique that Owens is not living up to his contract:

Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas told ESPN Radio on Thursday night that he disagreed with Owens' desire to have his contact re-negotiated.

"I don't agree with [re-negotiating a contract] because I believe that when you sign a contract your bound by that contract," Douglas said. "He's doing what he feels he needs to do, but I do believe that if you sign a contract you should honor that contract whatever circumstances you signed it under."

Generally, as someone who respects the importance of living up to contracts, I would agree. However, one must remember that the NFL is one of the few places in this world where the phrase "guaranteed contract" is not a redundancy. As the smarter-than-generally-given-credit-for Owens says:

"I know I'm a top player in the game, and my current contract doesn't justify that," Owens said. "The fact that I signed this contract, that I'm under contract, doesn't factor into anything when it comes to the National Football League. [The Eagles] can cut me anytime they want to -- even if I'm performing well, I'm healthy and I'm putting up numbers, just because they don't want to pay a player that money.

"If they can do what's best for their financial future, then why can't I?"

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A has a contract with B.

A has a contract with B. Things change, A and B both decide it is in their interest to adopt a new contract that modifies or cancels the prior one.
Happens all the time. It's not problematic in itself. Is there anticipatory breach? Is there duress?
What is TO's angle to persuade them to change the terms? Is he going to
run slower? Drop the ball more often? That would suggest bad faith on his part. Every contract has an implied duty of good faith. Hard to prove maybe.

Change that last sentence to

Change that last sentence to "I honestly don't believe that TO's defenders, who complain that the system is "unfair", have much of a leg to stand on."

Sadly, English is my first language. :dunce:

Every contract in the NFL is

Every contract in the NFL is negotiated and signed under the umbrella of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL. That CBA, which Owens' representatives in the NFLPA agreed to, states that teams can cut players at any time without paying out the salary that he would have got in future years. In essence, every NFL contract is a promise that says, "IF YOU ARE PLAYING FOR US in years X, Y, and Z, we will pay you $A, $B, and $C".

To offset the risk of getting cut, players negotiate a portion of the money they are to be paid as a signing bonus that gets paid out immediately upon signing the contract. Terrell Owens accepted a signing bonus and yearly salary terms with the full knowledge that he could be cut at any time. I honestly don't see what TO's defenders, who complain that the system is "unfair", have much of a leg to stand on.

Well, if the contract were

Well, if the contract were written such that
a) the Eagles have unlimited discretionary firing power and
b) Owens pledges to not work for any other teams in the NFL

that'd be a good and morally legitimate reason for the asymmetry, right?

Also being from Philly, I

Also being from Philly, I have strong feelings about this. I held off making judgement when this story first hit, even though he's trying to renegotiate 1 year into a 7 year deal, and even though he hired Drew Rosenhaus (think Jay Mohr from Jerry Maguire). The fact is, he's dead wrong in this situation. As Jonathan can attest, the numbers are very well known and constantly broadcast in Philly. He is among the best receivers in the NFL and is being paid like it. Anyone that tells you different is lying. How any professional athlete making several million a year can go on TV and cry about feeding their family without laughing is beyond me. T.O. cried. And on top of all of it he actually takes a verbal swipe a Donovan McNabb (I do admit this was probably much less than the media played it up to be, but still, keep your mouth shut).

The fact that an NFL team can cut a player at any time has nothing to do with anything. That's the way the league works. T.O. agreed to the contract, which is better than he was getting in San Fran or Baltimore, and if he kept his mouth shut he would earn over 6 mil a year over the first 3 years. That's top money. He's not going to get a better deal anywhere else, especially if you figure the odds of actually winning a Super Bowl with another team. I am one of the few people who believe that he wasn't the difference between them getting to the SB or not (look at the numbers for the last 2 seasons), and if he wants to sit out, I say rot on the bench. I love T.O. and I want him to play for the Eagles, but if he actually thinks he can pressure this organization into something, than he's really is the idiot the media makes him out to be.

Fly, Eagles, Fly.

T.O.'s not wrong for

T.O.'s not wrong for checking into the possibility of a more favorable contract. His logic is right when he points out that the team can cut him at any time. The problem I have with it, though, is he's made a giant spectacle of the situation. The other day, he went on CNBC and cried -- literally cried -- that he needs a better contract to feed his family. Now, I don't doubt that he wants to feed his family. He probably does. And if he thinks he should be earning more money, he's certainly entitled to ask for it. But you're not going to get much sympathy when you're already making millions off your current arrangement, and God only knows how much more off endorsement deals.

The way T.O.'s gone about this is foolish. I live near Philly (and, for the record, I own a T.O. jersey and T.O. Christmas ornament); his contract is the only thing the sports talk stations are talking about around here. This guy was treated like royalty all season long. And when he came back from an injury to play in the Super Bowl, he proved he deserved that royal treatment. The fans in this town absolutely loved him. But now, in the course of a single week, he has managed to squander every last ounce of goodwill. That's not such a smart move in a town as brash as this one. Philly booed Santa Claus, once upon a time.

T.O. has rocked the boat and allowed the whole thing to snowball. I love watching him play, and as an Eagles fan I still hold out hope that he'll play here next year. But if you ask me, he's going to NEED a better contract in the near future, because if he gets cuts, the way he's gone about this will severely hinder his earning potential.

If both player and team

If both player and team agree to renogiotiate a contract then I have no trouble with it.

Of course, you reserve the right to review the details of the new contract and call upon the government to interfere if it's not to your liking, don't you?

However, if the player threatens to hold out till he gets a new contract, then I have a problem with that.

I'm a bit confused. I assume that you, as a good leftist, are a strong supporter of unions. But this is exactly what unions do. Am I wrong about your position on unions?

Its just petulant

Its just petulant man-children pushing 'mommy and daddy' to see how far they can get. sad.

If both player and team

If both player and team agree to renogiotiate a contract then I have no trouble with it. However, if the player threatens to hold out till he gets a new contract, then I have a problem with that.

I don't follow the NFL, (CFL RULES!!!!) so I don't know the particulars of the case.

"I am one of the few people

"I am one of the few people who believe that he wasn’t the difference between them getting to the SB or not (look at the numbers for the last 2 seasons)"

I disagree, largely because I don't think the difference was in the numbers. It was in the swagger. T.O. gave that team a swagger it didn't have in the previous seasons. The Eagles were in touch with their feminine side until T.O. came to town; for all intents and purposes, Terrell Owens is a huge set of testicles.

By the way, I'd like to retract my statement about him crying over his contract. In typical "the media only tells you half the story" fashion, the tears he shed on the Donny Deutsch Show were for his grandmother, who's apparently sick or something. I don't know. I still wish he wouldn't've cried, but I'll at least give him credit for not crying over his contract, per se.

I still wish this mess would simply go away. Screw Drew Rosenhaus.