WASHINGTON -- The NFL Players Association filed a grievance
against the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday, claiming the team
breached Terrell Owens' contract by trying to get back part of the
wide receiver's signing bonus and by leaving him inactive for the
rest of the season.
Arbitrator Richard Bloch, however, won't decide this case.
As promised by players' association executive director Gene Upshaw after Bloch upheld the Eagles' suspension and deactivation of Owens, the union sent a letter to Bloch on Tuesday to inform him of his dismissal from the league's non-injury grievance arbitration panel, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported.
The union's second grievance against the Eagles in a month will fight for the $1.725 million portion of Owens' signing bonus that the team claims the receiver owes them for violating his contract when Bloch upheld the suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.
The union said the team was breaching the maximum discipline
clause in its agreement with the NFL.
The union is not asking for an expedited hearing because it no longer is fighting for Owens' return to the playing field this season. Thus, a hearing on the financial penalties imposed by the Eagles likely will take place next year.
Owens was suspended for four games by the team after run-ins
with quarterback Donovan McNabb and coach Andy Reid. The suspension
was upheld in arbitration and the team has said it will make him
inactive for the rest of the season.
But the union alleged that the Eagles' request to return a
portion of signing bonus money constitutes "double discipline."
"The Eagles told Terrell, the arbitrator, and the media that
Terrell would be paid for the balance of this year when he returned
from his suspension, and now they are instead withholding his
pay," Richard Berthelsen, the union's general counsel, said in a
statement. "We therefore filed this grievance both for his
protection and that of players generally, who deserve to have their
CBA and their contracts enforced as written."
The Eagles wouldn't comment on the matter.
Owens' suspension without pay cost him $764,706 of his $3.25
million base salary for this season. He is owed $955,882 over the
final five games.
The Eagles informed Owens he must repay $1.725
million of the $2.3 million signing bonus he received in March
2004. Sources said that the Eagles will withhold payment of Owens' remaining paychecks of approximately $191,000 per game for the remainder of the season to recoup the bonus money.
The collective bargaining agreement allows either management or the union to dismiss an arbitrator between Dec. 1 and Dec. 10 every year.
Bloch had been dismissed previously from the impartial arbitration panel by the NFL Management Council when he ruled in favor of the union's grievance that allowed restricted free agent Chad Morton to leave the Jets for the Redskins in 2003.
The dismissals by management and union mean Bloch will no longer serve in any arbitration hearings.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.