Three days after the Seahawks filed suit against Malik McDowell attempting to recoup almost $800,000 in bonus money, McDowell took to Twitter on Saturday afternoon to claim that he was healthy enough to play, but the Seahawks had ‘their own reasoning’ for not letting him take the field while also appearing to question the legitimacy of the doctor used by the Seahawks.
The comments were the first McDowell has made about his health since he suffered injuries in an ATV accident in July 2017, which prevented him from playing a down for the Seahawks.
McDowell, the team’s first pick in the 2017 draft at No. 35 overall, suffered what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll termed “a really bad concussion” in the accident. McDowell was never cleared to play by the team, and he was waived last March off the Non-Football Injury List.
The Seahawks worked with the NFL Players Association and McDowell to reach an agreement in which McDowell would keep half of his $3.198 million bonus. The Seahawks attempted to get McDowell to pay back all of his bonus money, but an arbitrator ruled McDowell would pay back the bonus money for what is in essence the 2019 and 2020 seasons, allowing him to keep the money for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
The team was paying McDowell’s bonus in four installments and had not paid the final installment. So that meant McDowell had to pay back $799,238 he had received in July 2017. He had already received the other two installments.
McDowell had 30 days to pay back the money on a ruling dated Feb. 27. He has yet to do so, compelling the team to file suit in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan this week to get the money, as well as interest and costs accrued (the Seahawks also reduced McDowell’s salary in 2017 to $85,000 a week instead of the $465,000 he would have gotten per the terms of a four-year contract that could have paid him up to $6.9 million overall.)
McDowell wrote on Twitter that he was cleared to play and appeared to cast aspersions on the doctor used by the Seahawks.
“One of the best Neurologist in the world cleared me too (sic) play football again Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher MD Neurologist vs The Seahawks Dr. Samuel R. Browd Seattle Children/Pediatric Neurologist who’s primary patients are under the age of 2,” McDowell tweeted.
In a separate tweet, McDowell wrote: “The @Seahawks had there own reasoning for not letting me play but my head was not issue.” He did not expand on that reasoning.
Browd’s biography, which McDowell linked, states that he is the Medical Director of Seattle Children’s Sports Concussion Program and the Director of the Sports Institute at UW Medicine. It said he has worked in collaboration with UW Mechanical Engineering to create “a new force reducing football helmet named VICIS” as well as serving as an unaffiliated neurological consultant to the NFL and an independent neurological consultant to the Seattle Seahawks. (Among the reported investors in VICIS helmets are Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin).
Kutcher is listed as the director of the Sports Neurology Clinic, which has an office in Brighton, Mich., (a suburb of Detroit), with his bio stating that he is also the “Director of the NBA concussion program and has helped develop the concussion policies of the NCAA as well as several college athletic programs and conferences” and that “Additionally, Dr. Kutcher works as an adviser to the National Football League (NFL) Players’ Association and National Hockey League (NHL) Players’ Association.”
“At the end of the day I’m was (sic) cleared by a well respected neurologist and that’s that feel how you wanna feel….,” McDowell stated, later tweeting he did not mean to include the extraneous “was.”
The Seahawks’ suit states that McDowell did not dispute the ruling of an arbitrator that he needed to repay the bonus, nor did he appeal it within a 10-day window to do so.
McDowell’s signing bonus was included as part of the standard four-year rookie contract owed him per the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement for being selected 35th.
The Seahawks’ suit states that McDowell violated a standard portion of an NFL player’s contract stating that a player “will not … engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.”
The team was consistently vague about the details of McDowell’s accident and injuries. McDowell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed that it was a head injury that was the issue when he talked to reporters at the NFL league meetings in Phoenix in March.
At that time, Rosenhaus did not indicate any complaints with how the Seahawks had dealt with McDowell.
“Unfortunately, Malik got injured and it was a brain injury, a head injury,” Rosenhaus said in March. “And the Seahawks, they did a wonderful job of exhaustively checking to see if they could get him cleared to play. Ultimately, their doctors were not comfortable clearing him. He has since been cleared by independent doctors.”
Rosenhaus’ comment that McDowell had been cleared to play was met with surprise by Carroll, who when told it was Rosenhaus making the comment said, “Dr. Drew? Makes sense now.”
Carroll insisted the Seahawks did not feel comfortable allowing McDowell to continue playing.
“Great for him, because I know he’d love to play in a game and all that,” Carroll said in March. “They’ve got that figured out, and he’s gotten (cleared) and all that, but we had to deal with it the way we did. So it’s surprising (to hear Rosenhaus say he was cleared).”
The Seahawks waived McDowell on March 2, just a few days after the ruling that he had to pay back the bonus. He became a free agent and had a visit with the Dallas Cowboys in March. At the league meetings Rosenhaus indicated optimism that he would sign with Dallas. But he was not signed by the Cowboys and there has been no reports since of any interest from NFL teams.
McDowell was the Seahawks’ first pick in the 2017 draft and selected after the team made three trades to move down from 26. The Seahawks selected safeties Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill and Mike Tyson and running back Chris Carson with the four extra picks.