A Gridiron Tale About Updating Your Technology

After an embarrassing incident in which an NFL player lost out on an $8 million contract over a mix-up with a fax machine, the NFL Players Association has signed a deal to bring contract signing to the 21st century. Maybe you could learn a thing or two.

Professional football players may have millions of dollars, but one thing they may not have is a working fax machine.

That’s the situation the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has anticipated ahead of the league’s annual draft later this week, as it worked out a deal to simplify the contract process using mobile technology.

But the move came too late for one star player, whose contract kerfuffle, involving a device 71 percent of office workers would love to throw out, may serve as a cautionary tale of the dangers of relying on outdated technology. More details:

The incident: NFL star Elvis Dumervil (interviewed above by ESPN) was about to re-sign with his longtime team, the Denver Broncos, when an incident involving the restructuring of his contract led things to go off the rails. Dumervil and his agent, working on a tight schedule, attempted to fax the document over to the team, but missed a contract deadline by six minutes. (The player and his agent had to go to a FedEx Kinkos in Miami to send the document, but it wasn’t showing up on the other side.) As a result of the incident, the Broncos would have owed Dumervil a guaranteed $12 million on his contract, rather than the agreed-upon $8 million—pushing the team above its salary cap and forcing the Broncos to release Dumervil, begrudgingly. “If there’s anything I would take back it’s the fact that if there’s a deadline, there’s a deadline,” Broncos Executive Vice President John Elway told the Associated Press about the incident. Dumervil eventually signed with the Baltimore Ravens—well, after he fired his agent.

The reaction: As a result of the incident, the NFLPA announced it would work with DocuSign to allow players, including newly drafted rookies to sign contracts electronically, avoiding the last-second hassles that Dumervil faced at a Miami FedEx Kinkos last month. (Among the devices players will be able to use to sign on the dotted line? A smartphone.) “Our mission is to support our membership on and off the field in the business of football, and DocuSign provides players an important member benefit,” said the players group’s George Atallah, in a press release. “With the amount of travel our players do, DocuSign adds value by enabling them to sign anything, anywhere.” The NFLPA already used the service for other purpopses, such as marketing contracts, but now will expand that to the contract that matters most.

Now, your association might not have a need to sign contracts as important as the one Dumervil did last month, but you’ve probably been faced with a situation where outdated technology made things really complicated. How have you adjusted your approach in such cases, and what advice would you give associations struggling with older devices?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

(George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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