By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Linebacker LaVar Arrington's oft-postponed hearing for a grievance against the Washington Redskins is back on, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. The hearing is scheduled for July 18, almost one year after the sides had hoped to decide the matter through binding arbitration.
When Arrington filed a non-injury grievance in March 2004, arbitration became inevitable because the matter couldn't be resolved through meetings involving owner Daniel Snyder and Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association.
Arrington believes that the Redskins omitted $6.5 million in bonuses agreed upon for 2006 from an eight-year, $68 million contract extension signed in December 2003.
He contends that the Redskins purposely removed the difference from the final draft that he signed at Redskins Park under deadline pressure.
Although Arrington filed the grievance as an individual through Detroit-based attorney Don Petersen, sources said that the linebacker is receiving assistance from NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen, as well as Jeffrey Kessler of the Dewey Ballantine firm in New York. The Redskins have been assisted by the NFL Management Council. However, in such matters the club is usually represented by Dan Nash of the Akin Gump firm.
The hearing is expected to last one day (possibly at Redskins Park), with Richard Bloch or Shyam Das serving as arbitrator. The hearing will include presentation of evidence under oath, and cross-examination.
The disputed contract was negotiated by Arrington's agent, Carl Poston, and Redskins salary-cap specialist Eric Schaffer, who was recently promoted to director of football administration. Poston has conceded that he didn't read the contract's final draft because of a looming deadline.
Under Virginia law, the signed contract leaves Arrington with a high standard of proof to show fraud or an intent to deceive. Arrington's position, a source said, is that he agreed to roughly $28 million through the first four years of the extension, but instead received roughly $21 million.
Arrington, who is rehabilitating from right knee surgery on April 6, couldn't be reached for comment. Poston and Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson didn't return calls.
In May 2004, Upshaw met with Snyder at Redskins Park, but they could not reach a resolution. The hearing was scheduled for Sept. 21, 2004, before being moved to late July so it could be settled before Coach Joe Gibbs's first season back. The hearing was switched to Nov. 2, then was indefinitely delayed after a scheduling conflict by an NFL lawyer. Last month, the Redskins pushed to have the hearing occur before training camp starts July 31, sources said.
During a January 12 interview with Comcast SportsNet, Arrington hinted that he would drop the grievance, partly because injuries limited him to four games in 2004. But Arrington's resolve was strengthened after reports quoted anonymous sources saying that he never had a case in the first place, according to a person involved with the hearing.
If Arrington wins, it will have implications for the club's 2006 salary cap, bringing the linebacker's cap hit from $12 million to $18.6 million.
Redskins Note: Yesterday, the Miami-Dade state attorney's office held a pre-filing conference to begin determining whether to prosecute safety Sean Taylor for two felony counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and one misdemeanor charge of battery. The procedure was closed to the public and Taylor's defense lawyer. The process is expected to last a few days. If the police's evidence is judged insufficient, the charges will be dropped. A decision isn't expected to be revealed until Taylor's arraignment June 24.