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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jerry Jones bails out Greg Ellis

There's a story on the Dallas Cowboy Web site here about Greg Ellis, his injury, an insurance policy and Jerry Jones. Some Dallas fans are making a big deal of this article, and they believe it taints Ellis' reputation. I recommend everyone read it and then opine here. But here is my take on the whole ordeal.

Greg Ellis had a pretty serious injury last year. His career could have ended. So, Ellis buys an insurance policy.

The policy he paid for gave him a four-game window to determine if he was fully recovered from surgery to repair the torn Achilles he suffered on Nov. 12 of last year. But once he played that first game, Ellis would have to decide within that four-game span if he could continue playing, and if not he was required to officially retire and collect on the policy.
The writer, well-respected Mickey Spagnola, said Ellis was most concerned about his insurance policy protecting him financially against serious injury and lost wages before he stepped on the field Sunday (and had 1.5 sacks in limited play). Fair enough. And why is this wrong? Yes, football players make a ton of money. But they also risk a lot on the field every Sunday for our entertainment and their love of the game. Most athletes don't have what it takes to make it to the NFL. But if a player is returning from a serious injury, why should a player risk his financial stability for a game?
Ellis said he went into Jones' office out here at The Ranch to finalize their agreement, which by the way made the previous insurance policy null and void. Ellis said Jones promised him dollar for dollar of what his policy would have covered if he had an injury this year. So basically what happened is Jones stuffed $500,000 into his 2007 base salary, jumping him from the $2.5 million to $3 million for this year. He also promised him an additional $1.1 million the insurance policy would have covered if he suffered a career-ending injury at any point this season, to be paid next year. And if Ellis completes all his prescribed workouts during the off-season and training camp over the next two off-seasons, he'll receive an additional $1.5 million in 2009, the final year of his contract.
Jones did the right thing. Ellis is invaluable for the money we are paying him: 6 years, $24 million, with a $4.5 million signing bonus. Ellis was drafted by the Cowboys and has stuck with the team through bad times. Only until the past two years has Dallas show signs of success, and Ellis played a huge role in those wins on defense. Sure, I criticized Ellis when he was whining about a contract extension, and I even called him out to play better. But I won't criticize him for protecting himself when he's underpaid as it is for his position in the NFL. Let's hope Ellis' good play continues and he has a career year this year, because it might just be the Cowboys' year. And that, I am sure, will put a smile on Ellis' face.

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