It has long been assumed that Jermichael Finley, holder of a disability insurance policy worth an untaxed $10 million, could simply collect his money if he never plays another down in the NFL. However, as with most legal matters, the truth is far more complicated.
According to a report by Yahoo! Sports reporter Rand Getlin, Finley's medical clearance from Dr. Maroon, the neurosurgeon who performed his spinal fusion surgery, may prevent the former Packers tight end from ever collecting on the policy.
While Finley's agent Blake Baratz stated back in May that his client could claim the money if he plays in less than four games, most total disability policies, such as the one Finley is understood to have, only pay out for disabilities that preclude a player from returning to the field. By receiving the green light from his surgeon, Finley may no longer be able to claim such a disability.
Chris Larcheveque, executive vice president of International Specialty Insurance, explained Finley's legal situation in Getlin's story.
"Where they hurt themselves, is they put out the theory that he's OK to play football," Larcheveque said. "Why would Lloyds [of London] pay $10 million on a disability policy if the player and his agent put in their head that he actually can play the game? Lloyds is going to tell the judge when they go to court, and they're going to go to court, that a top surgeon says he can play, and that he's not totally permanently disabled which is what he has to be to collect that money. His agent laid the foundation for Lloyds to make their argument."
Larcheveque's explanation is pretty straightforward, but he doesn't cover the likely ramifications if no NFL team signs Finley despite being cleared to play. In such a scenario, Finley and his agent would have a strong legal argument for collecting on the policy. That's not a slam dunk, however. The insurance provider could counter that because Finley's doctor is employed as the Pittsburgh Steeler's team neurosurgeon, his medical clearance also constitutes clearance from the team. As such, Finley would have to overcome an additional legal hurdle to collect on the disability policy.
Regardless, it's becoming increasingly clear that Finley's push to return to the football field may be driven by financial considerations as much as his love of the game.