CLEVELAND (May 3, 2005) -- Kellen Winslow's use of a motorcycle might have violated standard NFL contract language that prohibits players from engaging in dangerous activities.
The Cleveland Browns could require Winslow, who lost millions last year because of a season-ending injury, to pay back a multimillion-dollar signing bonus he received in March.
The 21-year-old tight end sustained internal injuries and damage to his right shoulder and right knee in an accident that sent him flying over the handlebars of his newly purchased motorcycle.
Winslow was being treated at the Cleveland Clinic, where the team's medical staff was waiting for swelling in the shoulder and knee to subside. The team declined to provide an update on his condition.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the standard NFL contract forbids players from taking part in any activity "which may involve a significant risk of personal injury."
It's another setback for the struggling Browns and Winslow, who entered the league last season with high expectations and a reputation as a hothead. His rookie season ended in disappointment when he broke his right leg during an onside kick in a Week 2 loss against Dallas.
With his leg still on the mend, Winslow purchased a sport bike last month and was learning how to ride it in a parking lot the night of May 1 when he hit a curb and was thrown off. He complained of chest pains after the crash.
Winslow, the No. 6 overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft, held out last summer before signing his contract.
Teams have the option of making contract language regarding dangerous activities more or less restrictive during negotiations with players, Aiello said. The Browns wouldn't release information about Winslow's contract.
There are a number of professional athletes who have violated contracts by getting hurt off the job.
In June 2003, Jay Williams of the Chicago Bulls crashed his recently bought motorcycle into a light pole, fracturing his pelvis, tearing knee ligaments and damaging nerves in his left leg. He hasn't played since.
The Bulls honored one year of Williams' contract even though he violated a standard clause, then waived him in February 2004 after reaching a settlement on the remaining two years. The buyout was reportedly worth about $3 million.
In 1994, Ron Gant was cut by the Atlanta Braves after he broke a leg in a motorcycle accident.
Aaron Boone was released by the New York Yankees before the 2004 season because he hurt a knee in a pickup basketball game.
Boone lost out on the majority of his $5.75 million, one-year contract because he violated language that prohibited basketball. He returned this season with the Cleveland Indians.
Winslow lost a multimillion-dollar bonus last season because of the leg injury that dealt a severe blow to Cleveland's offense, forcing the team to remove half its playbook.
New coach Romeo Crennel said in March he has big plans for Winslow in the offense. The team envisions a passing game built around Winslow and rookie wide receiver Braylon Edwards.
Winslow, the son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, dubbed himself "The Chosen One" back in college and, during his introductory news conference with the Browns, said he expects to exceed the accomplishments of his father.
The Associated Press News Service
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