Terrell Owens Suspension Upheld

Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, left, has a word with receiver Terrell Owens (81) in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals, in this Aug. 26, 2005 photo, in Philadelphia. AP (file)

Terrell Owens was shut down completely: his grievance, his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, his season.

For conduct proven to be a "destructive and continuing threat" to his team, an arbitrator ruled Wednesday that the Eagles were justified in suspending their All-Pro receiver for four games — and are within their rights to deactivate him for the rest of the year.

The Eagles will now look to trade or release Owens before next March, when he's due a $5 million roster bonus.

Arbitrator Richard Bloch wrote in his 38-page decision that there was "no violation of the labor agreement inherent in the club's decision to pay Mr. Owens, but not to permit him to play or practice due to the nature of his conduct and its destructive and continuing threat to the team."

After the ruling, the Eagles released a one-paragraph statement thanking Bloch for considering the matter and saying Philadelphia is looking forward to "moving on with our preparations for Sunday's game vs. Green Bay and the rest of the 2005 season and will have no further comment on this issue."

Bloch heard more than 13 hours of testimony last week. Owens' side argued the penalty is excessive and the Eagles' decision to deactivate him is too severe; he had sought to be reinstated or released so he can sign with another team.

"We are obviously very disappointed with Arbitrator Bloch's decision," players union general counsel Richard Berthelsen said in a statement. "His ruling ... ignores the obligation a club has to either provide employment to a player or allow him to play somewhere else. We are confident that we put in a winning case at the hearing last Friday, and we still believe Terrell Owens had a right to a legitimate reinstatement."

NFL head of labor relations Harold Henderson said the league was "pleased that the arbitrator has upheld the right of a club to suspend a player for conduct detrimental to the club."

Owens was suspended Nov. 5 after he again criticized quarterback Donovan McNabb, called the organization "classless" and fought with former teammate Hugh Douglas. Two days later, the Eagles extended the suspension to four games and told Owens not to return.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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