Sources: Player's contract forbids riding a motorcycle
CLEVELAND -- Browns tight end Kellen Winslow II sustained internal injuries and complained of chest pains after he was injured in a motorcycle accident, the team said Monday night.
A Browns source told ESPN.com that the team was "particularly concerned" about Winslow's right knee. The Browns confirmed his injuries aren't life-threatening.
Winslow was riding in a community college parking lot Sunday when he hit a curb at about 35 mph and was thrown from the motorcycle, Westlake police Lt. Ray Arcuri said.
Winslow was taken by ambulance to Fairview Hospital and was transferred to the Cleveland Clinic on Monday where the team's medical staff would treat him, Browns spokesman Bill Bonsiewicz said.
The extent of the injury to Winslow's right knee, and the possibility of structural damage that might sideline him for an extended period, likely will not be determined until swelling in the knee subsides.
There is also swelling in Winslow's right shoulder.
"He went over the handlebars and was real evasive about what the injuries were," Arcuri said.
The 21-year-old Winslow had minor visible injuries. He was wearing a helmet, but it wasn't strapped on and flew off his head, Arcuri said. He landed in a landscaped area at the edge of the parking lot, falling hard enough to tear out a small tree.
He and four other men were riding motorcycles in the parking lot, not far from Winslow's home in suburban Cleveland. There was no alcohol involved, Arcuri said.
"The four gentlemen said he was testing the bike out learning to ride," Arcuri said.
ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli reports the availability of Winslow for the 2005 season is not the only thing at risk. Beyond the injuries, there are possible financial ramifications as well, and Winslow may have given the team an opportunity to recover a portion of his signing bonus and option bonus, if he is found to be in breach of his contract.
Section 3 of the NFL's standard player contract stipulates, in part, that a "player will not engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury. Player therefore agrees that club will have the right to enjoin the player from engaging in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of injury."
But two league sources said Monday night that Winslow's contract includes language which is even more specific and limiting, and which expressly forbids riding a motorcycle. Many teams include such specific language in the addendums to contracts, especially those involving high-round draft choices. An agent who negotiated the contracts of some high-round Cleveland draft choices in recent years said the Browns routinely include such restrictions.
If the Winslow contract indeed includes such language, the Browns could seek to recoup a prorated share of the $6 million signing bonus Winslow received last year and perhaps the entire $4.4 million option bonus he was paid on March 1 of this year.
Winslow bought the powerful Suzuki GSX-R750 sport bike April 9 and obtained a 30-day license for it, but the bike, which can reach speeds of 172 miles per hour, is too powerful for a beginner, law enforcement officials told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Lt. Judy Neel of the Ohio State Highway Patrol told the Plain Dealer on Tuesday that Winslow obtained a motorcycle learner's permit April 26. He passed a written test and vision exam to get the permit, Neel said.
Winslow could still be charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle, Arcuri told the paper. That is a fourth-degree misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. It is up to Westlake prosecutor John Wheeler to determine if Winslow will be charged.
A learner's permit comes with certain restrictions, including riding in daylight only, wearing a helmet, carrying no passengers and not riding on interstates or heavily congested roadways. A rider must pass a road test or complete a motorcycle course to obtain a permanent license or endorsement.
He failed his first attempt at the written test in Garfield Heights, Neel said. He passed it the second time on April 26 -- five days before the accident. Sunday night, Winslow was traveling 35 miles per hour in a Westlake parking lot when he lost control of the bike.
The first-round draft pick missed nearly all of his rookie year with the Browns after breaking his right leg against Dallas in Week 2 while attempting to recover an onside kick in the final seconds.
Winslow had five receptions for 50 yards in his first two pro games.
He has had two operations on the leg and said in March that he expected it to be fully healed for this season. Winslow signed a six-year, $40 million contract with the Browns, but lost a $5.3 million bonus because of the leg injury.
Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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