Thoughts on Givens' suit against the Titans

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

David Givens says the Titans encouraged him to play despite a knee condition that could not withstand NFL competition, according to a $25 million lawsuit he has filed against the team.

Here's the link to News Channel 5's story and here’s the link to The Tennessean's piece.


The newspaper report includes this from Brad Blank, who represented Givens when he played:

"The issue is not about money.

"It's emotional and physical, and the idea that his career was cut short. ... The issue is what could have been done better and was there some kind of malpractice or negligence.

"His knee looks awful. Emotionally, in terms of his upbeat nature. … He is also not the happy-go-lucky, affable guy I used to know."

I am saddened to learn that Givens is still having a hard time. I got to know him only a little bit at the start of his short time with the team.

In attempts to check in on him after the injury and subsequent surgeries, we always heard that he was not in a good frame of mind, having a difficult time with things, withdrawn, downcast. Initially, those reports also said he was determined to resurface in the league, though all indications were that his knee simply wouldn’t allow it.

It’s a terribly unfortunate element of the league, the way a serious injury takes a guy from life as a star playing in front of 60,000 every week to a patient rehabilitating around a handful of people.

The end of football is hard on players -- the divorce rates, the financial troubles and the lifestyle adjustment have been well documented. Put a serious injury and a sudden ending into the formula and the change is drastic, the potential for emotional difficulties heightened.

The Titans haven’t commented on the case. But the accusations from Givens pertaining to an examination by Dr. Tomas Byrd, “an independent orthopedic surgeon who checked [Givens] before he signed a five-year contract in March 2006,” are disturbing.

The suit claims that after Byrd examined Givens, he forwarded the results to the Titans and their training staff. It further alleges that after the pathological defect in the structure of his left knee was discovered, Givens was not made aware of the problem as he should have been.

It says that he learned of the condition only after reviewing his medical file for the first time in February 2009. He got the file as part of a still-unsettled arbitration with the Titans through the NFL Players Association collective bargaining agreement.

So the first question that needs to be answered from the team’s side of things is why would they have given a receiver with a knee defect a five-year, $24 million contract that included $8 million in bonuses in the first two years?

Nick Beres, the Nashville TV reporter who broke the story, said on The Wake Up Zone in Nashville Wednesday morning that the timing of the physical is unclear and that it could have come after Givens was already under contract.

(Standard disclosure: I'm a part of that radio show three times a week.)