NFLPA says Green#039;s suspension violates bargaining agreement

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

BEREA - The NFL Players Association says the Cleveland Browns violated the collective bargaining agreement by suspending running back William Green for his arrest on charges of drunken driving and marijuana possession.

''We see this issue as falling under the substance abuse policy and the clubs don't have the right to suspend the player,'' NFLPA president Gene Upshaw said Tuesday.

Upshaw said he expects a grievance to be filed against the Browns.

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''They don't have the right to do what they did,'' he said.

Green sat out Sunday's game at Kansas City for what coach Butch Davis called detrimental conduct and being a distraction to the team. Davis and the Browns would not comment on whether the suspension was improper.

''We don't ever discuss anything that has to do with the players,'' Davis said.

It's an unusual case because the Browns never notified the league that Green was suspended, said Richard Berthelsen, general counsel for the NFLPA.

The league would not comment specifically on Green's situation.

''Generally speaking, we advise clubs that disciplinary action related to drug and alcohol matters should be handled by the league program,'' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

A message seeking comment from Green's agent, Tom Condon, was not immediately returned.

Police arrested Green on Oct. 27 after pulling him over for driving erratically. He failed a field sobriety test and a breath test. Police said they found a a bag of marijuana in Green's SUV, which he was driving with a flat tire.

If convicted of DUI, Green could be put on probation or face up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. The marijuana charge is a misdemeanor and carries a $100 fine.

It is not known if Green, 23, is in the league's substance abuse program. If Green is a repeat offender, the league could suspend him for four games.

The league does not announce suspensions until after a case has gone through the legal system. Green has pleaded innocent and has a pretrial hearing set for Dec. 3.

His arrest came during Cleveland's bye week, one day after the second-year player missed the Browns' loss at New England with a separated shoulder.

Davis said Green practiced last week and he expects him to be ready for Sunday's home game against Arizona.

Green leads Cleveland this season with 559 rushing yards on 142 carries.