Ex-receiver David Givens sues Tennessee Titans for $25M
Updated: September 24, 2009, 12:41 AM ET
Givens sues Titans for $25M
By Paul Kuharsky
The Tennessee Titans aren't commenting on the lawsuit filed against them by former receiver David Givens, but Jeff Fisher didn't hold back a different topic -- the source of the initial report on the legal action.
WTVF-TV, Nashville's CBS affiliate, broke the news of the suit in a report Tuesday evening. Their night newscast report included an interview with Fisher portrayed as a recent exclusive but actually filmed during training camp.
"Never in my career have I ever been associated with a more deceitful, unprofessional report than I witnessed last night," Fisher said after practice Wednesday. "The organization is looking into the possibility that there may be a connection between the reporter and the attorney and that's all I can say."
Fisher said the suit and report are not a distraction for the 0-2 Titans as they prepare for a game Sunday at the Jets and that he addressed the situation with the team. Several players joked as they left the field and during media availability that they would only be talking to Channel 5. The station did not have a reporter at practice.
Asked if that was because the team had asked the station not to show up, Fisher said: "You'll have to talk to the station about that."
WTVF-TV news director Sandy Boonstra told ESPN.com: "We have a clarification to make on the Titans lawsuit story from yesterday. The Titans, as we reported, are being sued by former player David Givens ... claiming he was not told of the extent of his injuries to his knee.
"In our story, coach Jeff Fisher talked about the team's policies on injuries. We neglected to say that interview was done during training camp. Jeff Fisher had no knowledge of the pending lawsuit when that interview was conducted. We regret if anyone was misled by the story."
The $25 million suit alleges that the club withheld medical information from him and let him play despite a medical opinion that his knee wouldn't hold up for a full NFL season.
"I was really taken aback at the lack of professionalism in this type of reporting," Fisher said. "I did an interview at training camp, a general interview and then the perception was I was questioned very recently about this. And the last question in this unusual interview was regarding David Givens. It's very, very unprofessional. I'm disappointed for the industry, to be quite honest with you."
Givens alleges that a doctor discovered a defect in his knee during a physical around the time his contract was being negotiated in March 2006. He said the examining doctor told team officials he "may need surgery at some point" and "may not be able to make a full 16-game season," according to the suit.
But Givens claims he was "kept in the dark about his condition" and urged to keep playing by team officials.
"The decision was made by the Titans management, coaching and medical staffs to risk serious injury and aggravation to a pre-existing condition without so much as consulting or discussing that situation with David Givens," the lawsuit said.
Givens, 29, blew out his knee in Week 10 of the 2006 season against the Ravens. An X-ray determined that the "previously known lesion and defect in his knee had crumbled," according to the lawsuit.
The team parted ways with Givens in 2008 and after multiple surgeries he's not been able to play again.
"His knee just exploded on him. He's had multiple surgeries, and it can't be fixed so that he can play football again," Givens' attorney, Dan Warlick, told WTVF-TV in Nashville.
According to Warlick, then-Titans general manager Floyd Reese and Fisher were given a memo about a physical examination for Givens taken before the 2006 season. He signed a five-year, $24 million contract with Tennessee in 2006 after four seasons with the New England Patriots.
The memo, according to WTVF-TV, read:
"Dr. [Tomas] Byrd is concerned about his ability to play for very long. His left knee has a large defect on the medial femoral condyle and may need surgery at some point. Dr. Byrd is concerned that he will miss some time and not be able to go through all of training camp and may not be able to make a full 16-game season."
Warlick alleges that this information was never conveyed to Givens.
"This information was never given to Mr. Givens," Warlick told WTVF-TV. "Had he known those things he would not put himself in a position where he ended up playing and blowing his knee apart."
Warlick claims that if Givens had his knee repaired before blowing it out, he could still be playing in the NFL.
Paul Kuharsky covers the AFC South for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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