DeAndre Levy

The more we learn about the Lions, the more we realize they struggled just as much off the field as on the field. Former linebacker DeAndre Levy has filed an injury grievance against the franchise, alleging the Lions passed him on a physical exam, even though his injured knee was so bad he couldn’t even sit in a chair, so they could cut him without owing extra money.

From ESPN’s Michael Rothstein:

“I figured there was something wrong because they passed me on a physical when I couldn’t even sit down to a chair or get into a linebacker stance at the time,” Levy told ESPN. “In my mind, I didn’t think about the legal contract part of it. I thought, this is f—ed up. I can’t get into position; how can I pass a physical? I didn’t know it was a physical the first time.

“I went in for just a follow-up for my knee, we go through the exam or whatever and I see he puts ‘pass’ on it for the physical. I’m like, ‘OK, this ain’t right.’ So I called my agent and I’m just now learning about the process.”

By passing Levy on his physical before releasing him—even though Levy says three other doctors said his knee was not healthy—the Lions nullified the $1.75 million injury guarantee in his contract, according to the Detroit Free Press. The exam allegedly occurred one day before the Lions released Levy in May. He had three years remaining on a $33.7 million extension he signed before the 2015 season. Shortly prior to releasing Levy, Lions general manager Bob Quinn told the Detroit Free Press that the 30-year-old linebacker was part of the team’s plans for the 2017 season.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell didn’t comment extensively on the grievance, but he did assert the Lions’ innocence. From ESPN:

Said Lions coach Jim Caldwell on Wednesday: “First of all, I didn’t read it, so I don’t know what’s said. Secondly, grievances filed in this league, it’s a player’s prerogative. That’s why they have the CBA. That’s why they have an opportunity to litigate things of that nature and they happen all the time. But I’d rather talk about people that are here than aren’t here.”

Injury grievances are not uncommon filings in the NFL.

“We followed everything by the rules,” Caldwell said. “We did exactly what we were supposed to do. That’s probably all I have to say on that.”

If Levy’s grievance is truthful, the Lions look like complete jerks. And this isn’t the first time. They made a petty move by having Calvin Johnson repay some of his signing bonus after he retried.

Levy suffered a torn meniscus during the first game of the 2016 season. Although he had not completed his recovery, he returned in Week 14 and finished the season, including Detroit’s playoff loss to Seattle. Although Levy was onboard with the early comeback, he believes he was misled.

“I feel like it could have been avoided last year,” Levy said. “I feel like it could have been avoided if I was shut down earlier. …  And now I’m here, maybe missing another season because of it. And it’s frustrating, man. I was there for a decade and I never complained about any of my injuries.


“In the moment, they tell me I can’t make it worse,” Levy said. “The doctors are telling me that, the coaches are telling me that, like the doctor is saying I can’t make it worse and now, I can. For my long-term health, yeah, I regret it. … I was just trying to prove I could be out there and help the team win, and hopefully that would be some saving grace for next year, like I was still trying to battle it out for everybody.”

Levy appeared in only six games during his final two seasons with Detroit due to injuries. Before that, he had been among the NFL’s top linebackers, racking up 151 tackles in 2014.


About Jesse Kramer

Jesse is a writer and editor for The Comeback. He has also worked for and runs The Catch and Shoot, a college basketball website based in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jesse on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer.