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.