Report: NFLPA alleges Patriots put team ahead of player's health
A court document recently filed by the NFLPA alleges that a former team doctor for the New England Patriots changed medical treatment for a former player in order to strengthen a legal case arguing that the player should return his signing bonus to the team, according to The Washington Post.
According to the report, the grievance -- which was unrelated to this case -- alleges that the team doctor, Thomas Gill, held discussions with Patriots ownership as well as team coach Bill Belichick regarding medical treatment of former defensive end Jonathan Fanene. Fanene had collected a $3.85 million signing bonus from the team but sustained a knee injury in 2012.
From The Washington Post:
A grievance letter sent by the players’ union cites an e-mail from former team physician Thomas Gill that the NFLPA contends shows Gill telling Patriots owner Robert Kraft and President Jonathan Kraft that he was “trying to put together a case” that would compel former defensive end Jonathan Fanene to return $3.85 million after he suffered a knee injury in 2012. The letter further asserts that Patriots Coach Bill Belichick directed Gill to delay any surgery on Fanene’s knee while an effort was made to persuade the player to retire, thus forgoing his bonus.
Gill told The Post that the grievance is a "legal maneuver" and insisted that he put Fanene's health before anything else.
Fanene was released by the Patriots in August 2012 for "failure to disclose physical condition," which would allow the Patriots to recoup his signing bonus if the team could prove the allegation. His lawyer, Angelo Wright, told The Washington Post that Fanene accepted a settlement agreement from the Patriots that prevents him from discussing the matter and pursuing a civil case against either the team or Gill.
Gill told the Post that Fanene passed a team physical before signing a three-year deal with New England in March 2012. The Boston Globe reported in 2012 that Fanene had "some sort of chronic injury, likely arthritis" that the team was unaware of until he started missing practices in training camp.
The Patriots, according to the Post, later sought to reclaim Fanene's signing bonus by saying he failed to disclose a need for pain medications to practice and play.
Gill resigned as the Patriots' team physician in April 2014 and has said his stepping down was unrelated to the grievance.
The NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement states that a team doctor's primary allegiance "shall not be to the club but instead to the player-patient."
- Mike Fiammetta