Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Upshaw 'concerned' about quick cut of Slaughter
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The head of the NFL players' union is
"concerned" about the decision by the Jacksonville Jaguars to cut
linebacker T.J. Slaughter a day after he was arrested for allegedly
pointing a gun at two people in a car on the highway.
NFL Players' Association president Gene Upshaw said Slaughter
has 45 days to file an appeal of his release.
"My problem right now is, I'm concerned that if a guy is in a
judicial situation, let's not act until that situation plays out,"
Upshaw told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Upshaw conceded, however, that Slaughter's case could be
hindered by the team's assertion that Slaughter was cut for
The fourth-year linebacker was arrested early Monday, after two
men who passed him while driving on a highway called police. They
claimed he pointed a gun at them after they drove beside him and
started gesturing toward his tires.
Slaughter is free on bond while authorities determine whether to
charge him with a felony count of aggravated battery, a misdemeanor
count of improper exhibition of a firearm or to drop the case
Coach Jack Del Rio said the decision to cut Slaughter on Tuesday
was based on performance, not Slaughter's legal situation.
"We are looking for guys who are going to do it our way. When
we're not seeing progress and development, we're going to move
on," Del Rio said.
Slaughter, a starter through much of his first three years with
the Jaguars, was demoted when Del Rio took over. The linebacker
did, however, move back into the starting lineup this season when
injuries forced Del Rio to juggle.
Upshaw said if Del Rio stands by his assertion that the release
was performance related, "then it's hard for us to react."
"But I'm a little concerned that they're taking action before
the legal process has a chance to take its course," Upshaw said.
Slaughter's agent, Michael Huyghue, said his top priority was
getting Slaughter signed with another team. Slaughter will visit
the Green Bay Packers over the weekend, but no other interest has
Huyghue said he thought Slaughter would have a "very strong
case" were he to file a grievance.
"But most people don't like to resolve things that way," he
Del Rio was angry after Jacksonville's 30-17 loss to Tennessee,
and said changes were coming. The Slaughter move is the only big
personnel decision he made, although he also decided this week to
remove the notorious tree stump from the locker room.
Punter Chris Hanson gashed his leg while hacking at the stump
with an ax. Del Rio had the props placed in the locker room to
emphasize his motto, "Keep chopping wood."
"I think it was time to move on. I looked at it last night and
said it was time to get it out," Del Rio said.