One thing a football player must do to ensure the paychecks keep coming is to stay healthy off the field. A non-football injury could substantially impact salary.
Sometimes people get hurt, but when football players get injured off the field, the consequences can be more than just inconvenience and a hospital bill. Teams don't want to pay individuals who cannot perform their duties on-field. When a player is injured during a game or practice they typically have to, though. However, when the injury has nothing to do with football, organizations have options about how they would like to approach the individual's salary.
The rules of the NFL non-football injury list
The non-football injury list was developed for such situations. The designation has been in the news plenty lately, due to a July fireworks accident involving Jason Pierre-Paul, a defensive end for the New York Giants. A fireworks blast maimed the player's right hand, and has kept him off the field thus far this season. Pierre-Paul had not signed his contract when the incident occurred, which changes the situation a bit, but upon his signing with the team the Giants had the option of placing him on the NFI list. This would have absolved the team of any responsibility to pay the injured defensive end for the rest of the season.
Players are placed on the NFL list prior to the start of NFL training camp. In certain cases, a player on the NFL list may have his salary prorated, depending on when he returns to the field.
Other NFL injury designations
The NFL non-football injury list differs from other designations the NFL has established for injured players. For example, there is the physically unable to perform list. Players must be placed on the PUP list prior to training camp. Players who participate in even a single training camp practice are not eligible for this list. An individual can be removed from this list at any point during training camp or preseason. However, once the regular season begins he will not be eligible to return until after week six. After that point, teams are given a three-week window to bring a player back, place him on the injured reserve list or release him.
The injured reserve list is the designation for players who are unable to return to football, even after the week six deadline, though starting in 2012 that rule was changed slightly. The league now allows for one player to return to active roster after being placed on the injured reserve list.
The NFL non-football injury list is the only designation that allows teams to completely withhold salary. It is important that football players remain safe off - as well as on - the field to protect their salaries. Those who end up on that NFL list could end up losing a substantial amount of money.
For more information the league's various injury designations, speak with a sports law attorney.