Blame the Fax Machine!
Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil is a football stud. But no matter how good he is, teams are always looking to cut back salaries in order to make room for more players. This was the case for the Broncos organization at the beginning of their free agency period. Players whose contracts have run out were not free to sign with any team, with no clear restrictions. As always, there were very intriguing pieces on the market. Big-name players were looking for an extra million or so dollars to fill the void in teams that are only a few players of way from the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
You must remember that the Broncos lost to the Baltimore Ravens in a heartbreaker, as Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw two desperation throws at the end two different quarters to narrowly beat Payton Manning’s new squad. The Ravens went on to the Super Bowl and defeated the San Francisco 49ers to secure another Lombrdi Trophy. If it weren’t for the Ravens’ stroke of luck agains the Broncos, Denver could have easily hoisted the trophy instead of Flacco and company.
That is why teams that are within reach of the elusive championship are usually the most aggressive heading into free agency. And when teams lack the salary cap to easily absorb a big name contract, they ask current players to take pay cuts. Dumervil was expected to leave the organization in hopes of getting more money elsewhere, since the Broncos were not going to pay him $12 million in 2013. At the time, he was earning $14 million per year. Talks began between the two parties and they both agreed on a deal: Dumervil would remain a Bronco for the 2013 season but he would be taking a bigger pay cut than $2 million. Instead, the 29-year old pass rusher restructured his deal and would earn only $8 million.
Now in the world of NFL salaries, there are very strict guidelines that teams, agents and players must abide by. One of these rules, in particular, applied for Dumervil and the Broncos: the contract had to be agreed upon by 3:59 p.m. and both sides must have the proper paperwork by then.
It just so happens that Dumervil’s agent, Marty Magid, didn’t get the final paperwork from the Broncos until 3:30 p.m.—which forced them to read, sign and fax the document in only 29 minutes.
And of course in those high-pressure situations, Murphy’s Law is bound to rear its ugly head. Magid had to send the fax at a local Kinko’s in Miami. On top of that, the first fax number did not work so he asked the Broncos to provide a second number. With the clock ticking, Magid sent the fax at 3:55 p.m. The only problem is that the Broncos did not receive it until 4:05 p.m.
The deal was dead; Dumervil was now a free agent.
Subsequently, he fired his agent and is now looking for both a new agent and a new team. The transition isn’t as seamless as it sounds, however. Per league rules, a player must wait five days after hiring a new agent to sign a contract. Given the high demand for great players in the NFL, Dumervil is going to miss out on more than just $4 million dollars since every franchise will sign player after player within that span.
This begs the question: who uses fax machines as their main source of obtaining documents? Hasn’t the NFL ever heard of scans and PDFs. Emails, maybe? We’ve all been in a similar situation.
Hector Diaz (iamHectorDiaz) covers sports, music and professional wrestling for a variety of sites, all of which can be found at iamHectorDiaz.com. He contributes The Ann Arbor Review of Books, which is out now on Amazon for $2.99.