New legal questions arise each day in the unknown territory that is the NFL lockout.
Cincinnati Bengals’ receiver Chad Ochocinco is trying out for a Major League Soccer team, Sporting Kansas City. Baltimore Ravens’ safety Tom Zbikowski has prevailed in one boxing match and has another match scheduled.
In past seasons, such activities would beg the question of whether Ochocinco and Zbikowski fell under the dangerous activities clauses of their respective contracts (notwithstanding the fact that Zbikowski is a restricted free agent). But with the lockout, rules are uncertain. I spoke with Connecticut Sports Law guest columnist Rob Romano about the binding effect of NFL player contracts during the lockout.
Dan Fitzgerald: Do NFL player contracts prohibit players from taking part in other sports during the lockout?
Rob Romano: Although a player’s contract may not have expired, the players are not bound by them for the duration of the lockout. The contractual prohibitions on so-called dangerous activities and other sports will not have any effect on players during the lockout.
DF: If and when the lockout ends, will existing contracts become binding once again?
RR: Unless otherwise negotiated in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), existing player contracts are likely to become effective once the lockout ends.
DF: What happens if a player gets injured during the lockout and isn’t ready to play if the season goes forward?
RR: The player risks getting injured if he competes in dangerous activities otherwise prohibited by his contract. The question is does the team/owner have to honor the terms of the contact once the new CBA is ratified. If the new CBA is silent on this issue, the team would most likely deal with the injury in the normal course – via injury settlement, or non-football injury list.
For more of Attorney Romano’s thoughts on the NFL lockout, check out his new website, Romano on Sports.