Jimmy Graham Loses $5 Million In Part For Listing Himself As A Tight End On Twitter

from the the-poorest-saint dept

We've had a great many discussions about how employers react to the social media content of their employees. There have been questions over whether employers should be able to fire staff for Facebook content, whether staff can be perma-banned from using social media sites at all, or even whether or not employees should be required to cough up social media passwords to their employers. These stories tend to focus on an employer doing something that makes the employee uncomfortable.

You want to know what's really an uncomfortable result of an employer looking into an employee's social media account? How about losing five million dollars? That's exactly what happened to New Orleans Saints receiving tight end Jimmy Graham.

Unable to negotiate a deal, the Saints slapped Jimmy Graham with a franchise tag as a tight end. Graham disagreed, declaring himself a receiver, in order that he be paid like one. The dispute went to arbitration, and today arbitrator Stephen Burbank came down on the Saints' side. The difference is significant. A franchise tag pays a player the average of the five highest-paid players at that position, and WRs—especially the top tier—are paid better than their TE counterparts. A ruling favorable to Graham would have seen him make $12.312 million this season; instead, he'll make $7.035 million.
For you non-sports fans out there, the reason for the average price difference is due to the fact that a team's wide receivers are generally more skilled players compared with tight ends. Typically, receivers primarily, you know, receive, as in the ball, typically on pass plays. Tight ends traditionally occasionally catch passes, but are often used as on-the-line blockers as well and aren't considered to have the catching, jumping, and speed skills of a receiver. For you non-Jimmy Graham fans out there, Graham breaks the stereotype completely, having led his team in receptions, caught yards, and receiving touchdowns. His argument that he wasn't really a tight end had a ton of merit. Unfortunately for Jimmy Graham, the arbiter took to the opinion of Jimmy Graham in part when rendering his decision.
The arbitrator's decision isn't public, but dribs and drabs of Burbank's reasoning have come out. (Ian Rapaport and Albert Breer are your best sources.) Among Burbank's justifications:

-Graham attends TE position meetings.
-Graham was drafted by the Saints as a TE.
-Graham lists himself as a TE in his Twitter bio. (Yes, the Saints argued this.) Burbank, via Rapaport: "Mr. Graham refers to himself as a tight end in social media that he controls and his agents do so as well."
-Graham lined up within four yards of the offensive line on a majority of his snaps last season.
Oops. Kind of hard to argue that you're not a tight end when your own Twitter bio calls you a tight end. Now, the article notes that the Twitter bio probably wasn't the key factor in the decision, stating that the arbiter likely instead focused on how close to the offensive linemen Graham started most plays (which is stupid, by the way), but it did serve as a sort of catchy "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" moment against his claim.

Either way, before you go telling your bosses what role you play in a company, probably best that you get your story straight with your social media accounts first.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 4:21pm

    Confused

    If I start calling myself CEO, of a company I work for, on my social media, and for some reason get called into arbitration with that company, the arbitrator must be cognizant of my status as CEO?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 4:36pm

    For you non-sports fans out there, the reason for the average price difference is due to the fact that a team's wide receivers are generally more skilled players compared with tight ends. Typically, receivers primarily, you know, receive, as in the ball, typically on pass plays. Tight ends traditionally occasionally catch passes, but are often used as on-the-line blockers as well and aren't considered to have the catching, jumping, and speed skills of a receiver.

    I'd like to see a rule enforced here that soccer pussies cannot write about football any more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 4:51pm

    Oh, poor, poor Mr. Graham. How will he ever get by on only $7 million this year?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 5:08pm

    maybe he wasn't talking about football.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    John, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    Weird pay system in a free market

    I would have thought in the "land of the free" that each player would negotiate their contract based on how *valuable* they are to the team & not the position they played. Seems odd that the another player tagged as a Receiver will be paid $5m more than Graham despite being less valuable (based on receiving stats mentioned above).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 7:17pm

    Wow, and here I thought he lost the $5 mil because the arbitrator ignored the plain language of the agreement and came up with some arbitrary 4 yard rule that is nowhere to be found in the CBA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 8:39pm

    Re:

    Hard to believe the sophomoric comment above got voted an LOL before this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2014 @ 1:16am

    Re:

    Hey, that's not funny. Malibu Media could tell you that, they could only afford the $16 dollar mansion this year...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 4th, 2014 @ 3:42am

    Re:

    I gladly accept 5% of that dear sir!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2014 @ 4:17am

    Re: Weird pay system in a free market

    Thank the union for this standard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jul 5th, 2014 @ 9:35am

    Re: Weird pay system in a free market

    The market is not free. It's baked into the Constitution via protectionist laws such as IPR. As long as anti-competitive practices persist, the market will never be free. The best we can hope for is a more fair, more open market.

    Please can we stop pretending that there's any such thing as a free market? The promotion of this fantasy annoys me because so many people actually believe it's true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 7th, 2014 @ 8:57am

    Re: Weird pay system in a free market

    The NFL does not exist in the free market. It has been given special dispensation by Congress to be exempt from it -- specifically to allow collusion and price-fixing. This is why so many NFL-related issues become the subject of Congressional investigations: the trade-off made with Congress that allows them to be an exception also puts Congress into an oversight role.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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