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Editor's note: This post was updated to reflect Adam Schefter's report that Jason Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated today.
Two NFL players were injured by fireworks over the July 4 weekend. New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback C.J. Wilson are undergoing treatment for significant injuries to their hands. Let's take a closer look at what happens when NFL players are injured off the field.
How do NFL contracts cover such instances?
Paragraph 3 of a standard contract reads, in part: "Player therefore agrees that Club will have the right, in addition to any other right which Club may possess, to enjoin Player by appropriate proceedings from … engaging in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury." In addition, some teams specify prohibited activities to avoid confusion.
What if this term is violated?
The collective bargaining agreement allows teams to place a player on the nonfootball injury/illness list, which removes him from the team's roster limit but protects his rights. Teams are not required to pay players on the NFI, though some do, often in cases of serious illness.
What happens to a player's contract?
It runs as usual, except when the player is in the final year of his deal. In those situations, the player's contract "tolls," or rolls over, into the following year to prevent an unaccrued entrance into free agency. Wilson is in the final year of his contract. Pierre-Paul would be as well if he signs his franchise tender.
How is this different from football-related injuries?
When a player is hurt during a game, practice or in an on-site workout, he still receives his base salary through the time it takes him to recover. Some players have "split" contracts that call for a salary reduction if they are placed on injured reserve, but the CBA requires teams to pay them through a reasonable recovery period known as an injury settlement.
When would a player on the NFI be activated to the roster?
The most important landmark is the sixth regular-season game of the season. If a player on NFI is ready to return at that point, he must either be shifted to the roster, released or else paid for the remaining 10 games he spends on the list. That's significant because Adam Schefter reported Wednesday night that Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated but is still expected to play this season. In addition, ESPN's Ed Werder reported that Pierre-Paul has fractures of his right thumb that will require six weeks to heal. The details of Wilson's injuries have not been confirmed, but Werder reported they're believed to be "significant."
So a player can simply be released with a nonfootball injury?
Certainly. Pierre-Paul, in fact, isn't under contract at all because he hasn't signed the Giants' offer. The Giants could make him a free agent by rescinding their franchise tender, but they really don't have any motivation to do it as long as the NFI is an option. They might as well retain his rights for as long as they can -- without having to pay him.
Why did Giants officials go to Florida to visit Pierre-Paul? And why didn't he see them?
The Giants haven't commented, but it makes sense for several reasons to learn Pierre-Paul's short- and long-term prognosis. They want to know if and when he'll be available to play for them, but they could also use the information to update their financial plans for him. Because he is not under contract, Pierre-Paul wasn't obligated to see the Giants' medical staff and chose not to, according to Schefter. From his perspective, there is no upside to providing details that could be used against him. That thinking was crystallized after Schefter's report of JPP's index finger amputation.
Two similar and bizarre injuries in one weekend. What can the NFL do?
Not much, unfortunately. The Fourth of July falls during one of the quietest periods in the league calendar. Most coaches and administrators are on vacation, and teams cannot host players for organized workouts at their facilities. Players receive stern warnings and guidelines before scattering around the country, but teams have little control over their whereabouts and activity during this time.