By signing an NFL contract, players assume a significant risk. Injury is commonplace in all athletics, but football is a collision sport. Combine the contact of combat sports with stopping, accelerating, and the changing of direction required in basketball, and a significant number of injuries are expected on the gridiron.
The players know this, the risk for long-term injury, and that their contracts aren’t guaranteed. A workplace injury is much different there than at Best Buy. If a television falls off of a shelf onto an employee, that person is entitled to some compensation.
Aaron Patrick knew that tearing an ACL in a football game was a possibility, but how he tore it on Oct. 17, could not have been expected. The Denver Broncos were playing division rival Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium, and Patrick was injured while running out of bounds and trying to not completely level an NFL employee.
Patrick is alleging that he rolled his foot on a mat that was covering some cords on the sideline, and that is how he suffered the injury. Now, he wants restitution. The linebacker is suing the Chargers, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Los Angeles Rams and the stadium, the NFL, ESPN, the employee he ran into, and a host of other entities for his injury.
The claim is that is going to lose out on more than half of his $660,000 contract with the Broncos because he was placed on IR for the rest of the season, and also was denied a reasonable opportunity to achieve the incentives in the deal. All of the named parties declined comment, according to Pro Football Talk.
Patrick might have a case. This is not the first time that a building that houses a team run by Kroenke Sports and Entertainment has been sued by an NFL player.
In 2015, Reggie Bush was playing for the San Francisco 49ers when they went up against the St. Louis Rams at what was then called the Edward Jones Dome. Bush ran out of bounds on a play and stepped on what was referred to in his lawsuit as the “concrete ring of death.”
Bush tore an MCL and missed the rest of the season. He signed with the Buffalo Bills before the start of the 2016 season, but not before he sued the then St. Louis Rams as well as the entities that owned and operated the dome.
Bush’s stint with the Bills was a disaster with him accumulating -3 yards rushing and 70 yards receiving. He retired from the NFL after the season. His lawsuit, however, was a rousing success. In 2018, a St. Louis jury ruled that the Rams were 100 percent liable for his injury, and had to pay him $12.5 million. Not a bad nest egg for Bush before he started hawking breakfast sandwiches and pretzel bun burgers for Wendy’s.
Patrick didn’t hire Bush’s attorneys, but they probably took this case knowing full well the results of that suit against the Rams. The players signed a contract knowing that the field of play is dangerous. Concrete rings and mats on the sidelines are a different story.
Hopefully Patrick makes a full recovery and can continue his NFL career. He’s a 2021 undrafted free agent who didn’t make the Jacksonville Jaguars’ final roster last season, but was able to stick with the Broncos in 2022. It was hard enough to get into the league and now this setback.
While he’s rehabbing, hopefully knowing that his case has a real chance will make him feel a bit better.