Clearing Up The TE Jermichael Finley $10 Million Insurance Policy Misconceptions

Monday evening, Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports reported that free agent tight end Jermichael Finley is still hoping to find a team to play for in 2014 as he attempts to comeback from a spinal contusion injury that suffered last October. While the Pittsburgh Steelers have apparently made offers to Finley, the former Green Bay Packers tight end doesn’t seem to be too impressed by them.

Since Pelissero reported what he did Monday evening, there seems to be several misconceptions surrounding Finley and the $10 million disability insurance policy that he could collect if he never plays again. The tight end talked about that policy nine months ago.

“My agent and financial advisers have always preached the importance of disability insurance to me,” Finley wrote in Sports Illustrated. “As athletes, we often feel invincible, which is why it is so important to have advisers who you can trust and who can also take the emotion out of any situation. I don’t feel the pressure that I see many athletes do because I’ve taken their advice. I currently have a $10 million insurance policy in place. If this injury prevents me from ever playing football again, I will be able to collect on $10 million tax-free.”

For starters, Finley isn’t able to collect the disability insurance policy until one year after suffering the injury. Secondly, as stated in a June article by Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, Finley would most likely have to retire before trying to cash in the policy and even at that point he could be in for a long fight collecting the money depending on whether or not he’s been cleared to resume playing and offered a contact.

“The answers always lie in the specific language of the policy, which we haven’t seen,” Atlanta insurance attorney Jeffrey D. Diamond told Seifert. “But I’ve been in this business for 35 years, and in my experience, there are usually conditions in these policies that prevent any kind of end around.”

One end around you know the insurance companies will not allow is Finley stepping back on a football field after paying out a claim to him.

As Seifert also points out, in a late May interview with Pro Football Talk, agent Blake Baratz said Finley has a “very sound argument to collect on his disability claim” if “he shuts it down permanently right now” — ostensibly after trying and failing to secure a contract. Presumably pointing to the possibility of a future offer, Baratz also said: “Three weeks from now, or six weeks from now, or nine weeks from now or if he plays in ‘X’ number of games, it’s a completely different story.”

Diamond agrees with Baratz.

“I haven’t seen his policy, but it’s hard for me to believe he will have that choice,” Diamond told Seifert. “I have to believe it’s not that simple, that there are some conditions or exclusions. That’s how these things usually work.”

So, if you are one of the ones thinking that Finley only needs to miss four games at the start of the 2014 season so that he can sign with a team after collecting $10 million from an insurance company, you better think again. They aren’t going to allow him to double-dip.

You can see the dilemma the tight end currently faces. There’s no guarantees that he will collect the $10 million at this point and he also wants to continue playing as well.

UPDATE Here is what former sports agent Joel Corry told me about Finley’s policy.

It’s career ending disability insurance. He may also have a problem collecting if a team offers him a contract that he turns down.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Kenneth Wilt

    I look at this a couple of ways.

    First, if he quits because he truly is concerned about his health and safety. More power to him. Retire, collect your money, and enjoy your life.

    Second, if he quits simply to take the money or avoids signing a contract simply to collect the money, then it says something about his competitive nature. I can’t imagine a football player I would want on my team who wouldn’t rather get back on the football field.

    Third, if I am him, I take out another insurance policy and get back on the field assuming the docs cleared me. Make it 20 million this time. Make sure it states that you are cleared by the doctors and therefore you are going back to compete, but should something happen and you retire injured….you get the whole sum.

  • Jacque Strappe

    Like I said in the other thread,,,,,PASS

  • steeltown

    I would think the fact that he’s been cleared to play and has had offers of employment, it would make the policy void. Disability insurance is for the actual disabled, but of course this country continues to surprise me every day.

  • ApexSteel

    He seems sure of it which leads me to believe that his lawyers have probably told him that it checks out. So in football terms he has a 10 million dollar fully guaranteed contract but with no taxes or risk of further injury. So logically, if you want his services, you’re going to have to beat that.

  • srdan

    I think life is often not just black and white as your first two options. There is a lot of gray in the middle. And he probably falls somewhere where his competitive nature drives him to play yet he knows that he risks a lot later in life. So the gray zone can be defined by the amount of risk. And nobody can give an exact number on that.

  • 20Stoney

    Again, I have no idea what this policy is, but it is interesting to me that he has pretty much said he can play for the right contract. What kind of disability insurance is going to pay out if he states he is healthy enough to play? If I’m the insurance company I’m going to argue that either he’s can or he can’t, and the contract amount shouldn’t have any bearing on it. He has admitted he can play.

  • JohnB

    I wonder if this Finley business is whats taking them so long to extend some others.

  • Ken

    He is not doing himself any favors as I read in one article saying “the money is not where it should be yet” I think he has already said to much to collect any insurance. Turning down a contract because it isn’t enough is saying I could play if I wanted to.

  • cencalsteeler

    Excellent post, exactly what I was scratching my head at.

  • CW

    Probably not. The Steelers did not wait around after Mike Wallace made it clear what his position was. So they are probably more likely to be trying to sign Woirlds long term and then work on extensions by priority.

  • NW86

    Yep, me too. I was thinking that as I read the previous post about him, right before I read this one. He has really put his foot in his mouth – he has publicly stated that he can play and has had offers to play. What insurance company would still pay him if he retires now?

  • 2443scott

    i am guessing he wants guarrented money plus a 3 year deal where he makes more then the 10 mill over that time …i like the direction the teams gone this year plus how they gone through the draft ….i my self dont want to be adding older players back on the team and end up keeping them because no ones there to come in and play i know theirs a need at TE ….but they got to look down the road not just stick in a guy ..i my self liked watching his playing over the years ..but the team has got to build younger at TE hopefully miller be hanging around for 3 more years…by then we should have a new TE in place to take over …maybe he just wants to play football and the 10 mill dont matter as much and he wants a spot where he can end his career at …

  • ApexSteel

    Neal Coolong says he only has to miss 4 games by October 20th and whether or not he’s cleared doesn’t seem to matter.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    My thoughts exactly. When I read the other post, I started thinking how the policy likely states he must be disabled at least to the point he couldn’t be medically cleared to play. If he passes a physical and is offered a contract, regardless of whether he accepts it or not, that may be enough to cover the insurance company on that claim. You have to imagine, an insurance company will be sure to create as many loopholes as they can to back out of paying on a claim worth $10 million. That’s just how it works.