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Thursday, December 30, 2004
Ohalete says he's owed $20,000

Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis is disputing a claim that he owes money to a former teammate in exchange for a jersey number.

Portis' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, responded Thursday to a breach of contract complaint filed by Arizona Cardinals and former Redskins safety Ifeanyi Ohalete. The complaint claims Portis owes $20,000 of $40,000 promised when Ohalete gave Portis the jersey No. 26 during a Redskins minicamp in June.

"We have a position on that that is different from theirs," Rosenhaus said.

Rosenhaus would not specify how Portis plans to contest the complaint, filed Wednesday in Maryland District Court in Upper Marlboro.

"We're not going to handle that publicly," Rosenhaus said.

Portis and Ohalete made the deal after months of negotiations following Portis' offseason trade from Denver to Washington. Portis wore No. 26 during his two seasons with the Broncos and wanted to wear it with the Redskins, but Ohalete already had the number from his three seasons with the team.

The two signed a contract June 4 stipulating that Portis would pay $40,000 for the number, according to Ohalete's attorney, John Steren. Steren said Portis paid $20,000 up front but did not make two subsequent payments of $10,000 due during the season.

"Clinton has been more than generous with Ifeanyi," Rosenhaus said.

Steren said Thursday that he had not been contacted by a representative for Portis and did not know how Portis would fight the complaint.

"We'll have to wait and see what he comes up with," Steren said. "It's a fairly clear-cut contract. It's clear-cut terms."

Ohalete switched to No. 30 after making the deal, but was cut by the Redskins during training camp in August. The Cardinals claimed him off waivers, and he has become their starting free safety.

Portis has not commented on the matter. Ohalete, through his agent, said the dispute was "about honesty and principle."

"I held up my end of our deal and gave him my number. All I am asking is that he does what he agreed to do, and hold up his end of the deal as well. I don't think that is asking too much," Ohalete said.