NFL Union Grits Teeth and Files Grievance to Get Aaron Hernandez His Bonus
The NFL player’s association gritted its teeth and filed a grievance on behalf of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez to force the Pats to pay an $82,000 bonus owed Hernandez for attending off-season workouts until he was arrested and charged with murder. Hernandez can’t be the NFLPA’s favorite client, and the organization sounds fully aware of the, shall we say, unpleasant optics involved in going to bat for a guy charged with murder:
On behalf of all players, it is our responsibility to protect the rights in the collective bargaining agreement. We are not tone-deaf to what the allegations are in this case, but for the benefit of all players, there are important precedents here we must protect.
Hernandez was released by the Patriots in June shortly after being charged with shooting Odin Lloyd. The Patriots have since shown little willingness to acknowledge he ever existed, let alone cut him checks. So you can see why the team might see themselves as better off, PR-wise, having an arbitrator force them to pay the pocket change rather than offer it up themselves. Meanwhile, the NFLPA probably doesn’t want to set a precedent that cedes all future NFL-player-turned-accused-criminals of the same kinds of payments.
Get ready, though, because this is just the warmup act. Hernandez’s contract also includes an over $3 million deferred signing bonus, which was to be paid in March 2014.