You may remember the Detroit Lions from when they tried to make Calvin Johnson pay back part of his signing bonus after he retired, a move that made the franchise look petty and cheap in the eyes of many.
At least that was a justifiable move. If what linebacker DeAndre Levy contends is true about the details of his release this past offseason, the Lions look like a bush-league operation.
Levy has filed an injury grievance, according to ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein. The Lions passed him on a physical even though his injured knee was so bad he couldn’t even sit down in a chair, Levy told Rothstein. Then they cut him the next day. By cutting Levy when they did in March, the Lions nullified $1.75 million that would have been guaranteed to the linebacker, the Detroit Free Press said. Because Levy “passed” his physical, the team could cut him and avoid paying him that money. Hence, the grievance.
Levy says three other doctors have told him the knee wasn’t healthy since the Lions told him he passed his physical and cut him, according to ESPN. Levy said he had more surgery in April to remove cartilage and redo the meniscus repair. If what Levy says is all accurate, it’s a terrible look for the Lions.
If you want a peek inside the seedy world of how NFL players get treated sometimes, here’s Levy on his physical from the Lions:
“I figured there was something wrong because they passed me on a physical when I couldn’t even sit down to a chair or get into a linebacker stance at the time,” Levy told ESPN. “In my mind, I didn’t think about the legal contract part of it. I thought, this is (expletive) up. I can’t get into position; how can I pass a physical? I didn’t know it was a physical the first time.
“I went in for just a follow-up for my knee, we go through the exam or whatever and I see he puts ‘pass’ on it for the physical. I’m like, ‘OK, this ain’t right.’ So I called my agent and I’m just now learning about the process.”
Injury grievances happen all the time in the NFL. This isn’t new. But the details of Levy’s story are pretty ugly.
“We followed everything by the rules,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said, according to ESPN.
Levy was injured most of his final two seasons with the Lions. Before that he was a fantastic player, and also gained some fame for his adventurous personality off the field. He’s also not afraid to speak his mind, which doesn’t always play well in the NFL.
Levy returned from a knee injury late last season, and told ESPN that coaches and doctors told him he couldn’t make the knee injury worse. He says it did get worse, and then he was cut right before he would have made $1.75 million. He said he regrets coming back to play last season and said the whole experience left a “sour taste” in his mouth.
“I’m battling every day; I put in a lot of time, a lot of hours for nearly a decade and then you cut me and tell me I’m not hurt,” Levy said. “And now I have to go through a legal process to prove that I was injured. It’s insulting, man.”
Levy is still unsigned, and said he could miss this entire season because he won’t be cleared for months. He will turn 31 years old next offseason, so it won’t be easy for him to get another job. Levy’s story is an uncomfortable look at the dark side of the game, and Levy had some simple advice for other players.
“I’d be foolish, at this point in my career, to put my health in the well-being of NFL doctors,” Levy told Rothstein.
More Lions news from Yahoo
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