A former Chicago Rush kicker has settled his wrongful termination claim against the Arena Football League.
26-year-old Orland Park resident Mike Salerno was cut by the Rush in May after suffering a hip flexor injury during a game in Arizona that he claims was misdiagnosed by the team's trainers.
"I got hit on a [point after touchdown]," he said. "The way the guy fell, I couldn't really move or get out of the way. I hyperextended the hip flexor muscle. Basically it was like the muscle was pulled farther than it should go. It kind of felt weird. I knew on the next kickoff when I went to swing my leg there was no power, nothing came with. It was almost like it was a wet noodle."
The team released him the following week after a trade to the Pittsburgh Power fell through. Salerno claims trainers cleared him during his exit physical despite the fact that he claims he knew his leg wasn't right.
"It took everything away from where I was," he said. "Kicking before the injury was the best I had ever been. I lost a lot of flexibility."
Under the settlement, the league will pay him more than $4,000 for lost wages and health insurance.
Salerno has since retired from football, instead focusing on his new career as a microbiologist lab assistant at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and as a club DJ on weekends.
"I'm ready to start moving on in life," he said. "I can see my family and my girlfriend. Financially I wasn't getting ahead in life [making $400 per game in the Arena Football League], but I was chasing a dream and I knew that."
League spokesman Anthony Herron declined comment on Salerno's case.
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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