The NFL Players Association announced on Tuesday that its members - past, present and those chosen in tonight's National Football League draft - will now have as a union benefit free access to an electronic-signature service.
The news raised an intriguing question: Would this technology have prevented last month's contract-deadline fiasco that cost the Denver Broncos the services of star defensive end Elvis Dumervil?
From the press release:
Today's announcement follows an intriguing offseason in which contract negotiation logistics made unexpected headlines. DocuSign's cloud-based eSignature platform assures that every NFLPA member can sign documents quickly and securely anytime, anywhere on their mobile device without the hassles of printing, faxing, scanning, or overnighting. NFL players will no longer have to search for a fax machine to execute a deal.
Although the press release mentions neither a particular contract negotiation nor Dumervil, there's no reading between the lines necessary to know that they're talking about the former Bronco, who is now a Baltimore Raven. For those who don't follow pro football: Dumervil on March 15 had agreed to restructure his contract in order to stay with Denver, but - after scrambling to find a Kinkos -- faxed his signed copy of the agreement six minutes past a contractual deadline and too late to prevent the Broncos from releasing him instead. Weep not for Dumervil, though, because on March 24 he signed a $35 million contract with the Ravens.
So back to the question: Had Dumervil used DocuSign instead of a fax machine would he still be with the Denver Broncos?
I emailed that lone question to the NFLPA, DocuSign and the latter's public relations firm. Shortly afterward I received a paragraph-long answer from the PR rep that extolled the virtues of DocuSign but didn't come within 100 yards of addressing my question. On the second try, I heard back from NFLPA spokesman Mike Donnelly:
"The answer is no. DocuSign doesn't replace the agreement between the NFLPA and NFL for player contracts to be faxed."
So Dumervil would still be holding that Ravens jersey you see above.
Better technology can't solve every problem.
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