Explaining Zach Thomas' Grievance Against the Chiefs

We didn't really cover this yesterday since news broke on the morning of gameday but former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Zach Thomas has filed an injury grievance with the club.  Basically, he claims he was cut while he was still injured, which the team can not do.

This stuff gets a little confusing so after the jump I go into a little more depth about the grievance, how they work and what each side's position is.

Per the standard NFL Player's Contract, if a player is injured while a member of the team, he is entitled to his salary and all medical related costs (rehabilitation, treatment, etc).  If the team wishes to release him to free up a roster spot, the two sides can come together on an injury settlement where the team pays the player X amount and he is released.

Thomas, who hadn't practiced since the first week of training camp and didn't play in any preseason games, claims he was still suffering from a concussion which has prevented him from playing when the Chiefs released him.  Per NFLPA rules, he must file an injury grievance within 25 days which, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, he has done.

The Chiefs released Thomas on September 5th, which means his grievance must have been filed by the end of last month.

Thomas visited the Pittsburgh Brain Imaging Research Center at some point and the doctors told him his career was in his hands.  I took a look at our training camp reports, and at the end of August there were two days when Zach Thomas was not on the field and unaccounted for (by local reporters, at least).  That's possibly when he visited the hospital.  Or it came after he was released (it doesn't really matter).

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported later that Thomas would retire.  Thomas' agent disputed that report and stated his client intended on playing next season.

A Chiefs team official told Mortensen that Thomas was cleared to play by doctors and the release was performance-based.  

Now that a grievance has been filed, Thomas will be evaluated by a neutral physician.  If the physician finds that he's still injured, Thomas will appear before an arbitrator, represented by an NFLPA attorney, to decide the case.  

Thomas had a $1 million salary with the Chiefs.

These grievances aren't that uncommon.  There are about 40 or so filed each season.

The Chiefs signed Thomas over the offseason to be a locker room leader and a veteran presence on a linebacker group that struggled mightily in 2008.  He showed up to the offseason activities and earned the praise of head coach Todd Haley, which is somewhat of a rarity we later learned. 

Haley commended him on his work ethic on multiple occasions.

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