NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 10, 2006) -- The NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the Titans on behalf of Steve McNair, accusing the team of breaching the quarterback's contract when it barred him from working out at its facility.
McNair was told April 3 he couldn't work out at the Titans' training property until his contract is reworked. If he McNair got hurt during the offseason workouts, the Titans would be on the hook for his entire salary-cap figure for 2006.
The NFLPA filed a grievance for breach of contract on McNair's behalf late on April 7, general counsel Richard Berthelsen said.
"He has a contract and he wants to comply with that contract, especially that part that says he must remain in excellent physical condition and give the best of his ability to the club," Berthelsen said. "And they're trying to keep him from fulfilling that function for the sole reason they want him to renegotiate his contract so they have a better deal with him."
The Titans have 10 days to respond.
"We respect Steve's right to use a grievance mechanism set up by the CBA for handling player and club differences," team spokesman Robbie Bohren said. "We will study the grievance and respond in due course."
A good explanation could end the grievance, but Berthelsen called that rare. The next step would be a hearing before an arbitrator, which either side could try to speed up within 10 days after the team's answer.
"We're going to wait to see what the answer says before we expedite," Berthelsen said.
The Titans chose in February not to pay a $50 million option that would have extended McNair's contract through 2009.
Tennessee holds the No. 3 pick overall in the draft later this month, and owner Bud Adams has said he wants a quarterback taken with that choice. The Titans have met with Matt Leinart of Southern California, Vince Young of Texas and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler.
The NFL's collective-bargaining agreement requires players to take part in teams' offseason conditioning programs and remain in good physical shape. Berthelsen said this situation is the flip side of a player who holds out for a better contract.
"If Steve McNair is kept at home, he's not being employed. And his right to be on club property to prepare for the preseason and the regular season and to meet his contractual obligations to become and to remain in excellent physical condition, if they're depriving him of that, they're breaching his contract and breaching the CBA," he said.
That might lead to the end of McNair's 11-year tenure with the team that drafted him No. 3 overall in 1995.
"They have the contractual right to release him," Berthelsen said of the Titans. "They do not have the contractual right to ban him from the premises."
The Associated Press News Service
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