Union comes to Owens' defense

Thursday, November 10, 2005

NEW YORK -- The NFL Players Association wants the Philadelphia Eagles to cut Terrell Owens if they're not going to reinstate him after his four-game suspension is over.

"We're not asking them to play him, we can't force them to do that," Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA's executive director, said Wednesday. "But if they're not going to let him come back to practice and do all the other things associated with that, then we want them to cut him, let him become a free agent now."

The union already has appealed the four-game suspension levied on the wide receiver by the Eagles for what coach Andy Reid called "a large number of situations that accumulated over a long period of time."

The appeal will be heard before arbitrator Richard Bloch on Nov. 18.

But Upshaw said that even if the suspension is upheld, the Eagles can't just tell Owens to stay away from the team and its practice facility.

"We are taking the position that's additional punishment," Upshaw told The Associated Press. "It's not fair to a player not to have an additional chance."

Upshaw differentiated between the Eagles' suspension of Owens and Tampa Bay's decision two years ago to make Keyshawn Johnson inactive for the final six games of the season. Johnson signed in 2004 with Dallas, for whom he now plays.

"There was no suspension there. A team has the right to inactivate a player for whatever reason it wants," he said. "But in T.O.'s case, this is a team suspension, not a commissioner's deal. They're different. When we bargained in those rules, there was a reason for it. The most a player can be suspended is four games. You can't go beyond that."

Chiefs' Holmes out for year

Kansas City Chiefs running back Priest Holmes will miss the rest of the season because of head and neck trauma diagnosed by three experts on spinal injuries.

A helmet-to-helmet blow he absorbed on Oct. 30 against San Diego was the most recent problem for the 32-year-old running back. But coach Dick Vermeil said Wednesday signs of trouble first showed up when Holmes developed tingling in his hands during training camp.

Holmes, 32, a three-time Pro Bowler whose 66 touchdowns between 2002 and 2004 are an NFL record for any three-year span, was placed on injured reserve. Doctors had recommended he avoid any contact at all for a minimum of 30 days.

He is not incapacitated and no surgery is planned, said general manager Carl Peterson.

"It's a head trauma and a neck trauma that has affected the cervical area of his spine," Peterson said. "But he's not incapacitated. There's no reason for surgery."

A statement from Dr. Jon Browne, the Chiefs' team physician, said no permanent damage had occurred either to the head or neck and that Holmes would be re-evaluated in 30 days.

Peterson also said doctors were not concerned about the possibility of paralysis should Holmes continue playing, and that Holmes indicated he planned to resume his career next season.

Injuries have caused the Chiefs' career rushing leader to cut short two of his last three seasons. But he has shown flashes of his old self while rushing for 451 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries. He also has 21 catches for 197 yards, including a 60-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in a victory over Washington on Oct. 16.

"We're going to miss him," Vermeil said. "He's more than a football player for this organization."

-- The Associated Press

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