Miami Dolphins say Heupel hid wrist injury

Wednesday, April 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ Former Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel didn't have much of a chance with the Miami Dolphins last year because of a wrist injury. Now the quarterback and the club want to be compensated for the missed opportunity.

The Dolphins have filed a grievance with the NFL Players Association, asking Heupel to repay roughly $83,000 in signing bonus, workout pay during training camp and base salary for the two regular-season games he was on the team's injured reserve list.

Heupel, meanwhile, has filed a grievance against the Dolphins in hopes of receiving nearly $107,000 in base salary for the 16 weeks he wasn't on the team's roster.

A sixth-round pick by Miami in last year's draft and now with the Green Bay Packers, Heupel also has filed a workers' compensation claim against the Dolphins for the time he was out of football because of what he clains was a preseason injury. He also is asking for reimbursement of the cost of wrist surgery he paid for last October.

Both sides are scheduled to present their grievances before an NFLPA arbitrator in June.

According to the grievance, which the South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported, the Dolphins believe Heupel lied about a wrist injury that contributed to him not making the team.

They claim Heupel failed to reveal a pre-existing wrist injury on medical forms he filled out before and after the draft. Had they known about the injury, they said they never would have drafted him.

Heupel contends the injury occurred during an exhibition game, said Rich Wagenheim, one of the attorneys representing Heupel.

``It's our position, and I think the evidence will show, that the wrist injury that caused his disability occurred during the exhibition game when he playing for the Miami Dolphins,'' Wagenheim said Tuesday.

Heupel played two seasons at Oklahoma and led the Sooners to the national title as a senior. He set school records for career completions (590), attempts (933) and touchdown passes (50) and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2000.

But because of his questionable arm strength, the left-hander was the 11th quarterback taken and the 177th overall pick in last year's draft.

He was 4-for-8 for 62 yards before injuring his left wrist in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Rams last August. He never practiced or played for the Dolphins again.

Team trainer Kevin O'Neill reviewed tapes of the game, but couldn't determine how or when Heupel got hurt. O'Neill also said Heupel had a similar wrist problem while playing for the Sooners.

But Wagenheim said Heupel has no problems passing until the exhibition game.

``He was throwing the ball fine,'' Wagenheim said. ``He wasn't restricted in any way before the injury.''

The Dolphins put Heupel on waived/injured list in late August. His rights reverted to Miami when he wasn't claimed by another team. The Dolphins then placed him on injured reserve for the first two games of the season before releasing him outright on Sept. 18.

The Dolphins and Heupel refused comment Tuesday.