The New Orleans Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham could be facing the loss of over $5 million dollars, all due to his twitter page. The All-Pro football player is in the middle of an ongoing arbitration process with the NFL Management Council over whether or not his official position on the team is as a Tight End or a Wide Receiver. Graham was recently ‘franchise tagged’ by the Saints, meaning he has to play the 2014 season under a one-year contract. The Saints franchise tagged Graham as a Tight End, his official position on their roster, meaning he will be owed roughly $7 million dollars this season. However, Graham argues that he lines up as a Wide Receiver a majority of the time, meaning he should be owed the $12.3 million that a franchise tagged wide receiver would get.
Among the key pieces of evidence the Saints will present is that Graham refers to himself as “New Orleans Saints Tight End #80” on his twitter page, an admission that could cost him nearly $5 million dollars if the arbitration rules in favor of the NFL. This situation represents an important, two-fold takeaway for employers and employees.
First, it highlights again the importance of caution with social media postings. Even something as innocuous as a twitter bio can come back to haunt an individual, even if it isn’t to the tune of $5 million dollars per year. This caution needs to be exercised by both employers and employees alike.
More importantly, the ongoing grievance procedure highlights the usefulness of arbitration clauses for employers. Even if an employee is not due the millions that an NFL player would receive, a well-crafted arbitration clause in an employment contract would make potential litigation far less costly and time consuming, as it would channel certain employee claims directly to binding arbitration, as opposed to lengthy court litigation.