The Workers’ Compensation Commission did not err in finding the claimant, a former NFL player for the Washington Redskins, was disabled and entitled to average weekly wages of approximately $784.
On appeal, the claimant argues that his average weekly wage should be $6,115, based on an expected annual salary of $318,000. But because the claimant suffered an injury before making the final team roster, his earnings as a football player were entirely hypothetical. Code § 65.2-101 permitted the Commission to conclude that the circumstances of the claimant’s employment were sufficiently exceptional to support an average weekly wage based on his pre-injury earnings. Adding additional, unearned payments to that amount based on the sheer conjecture that certain subjective performance measures would be met would require the Commission to speculate and not serve the statutory purpose to approximate the economic loss suffered by an employee.
However, contrary to the employer’s claim, credible evidence supports the finding that the claimant was medically released to work only in a non-player football role, so his lack of employment as a football player was not voluntary.