Leon Lett suspended for
a year...effective immediately
By the Associated Press (Dec. 3, 1996) See Complete
NFL list of Drug Suspensions
IRVING, Texas (AP) - Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Leon
Lett was immediately suspended a minimum of one year by the NFL
on Tuesday for violating the league's drug policy for a second
Lett was suspended for four games in 1995. At the time, he
was informed that any further violation would result in a minimum
one-year suspension without pay.
"On behalf of the Dallas Cowboys, this is a time of concern
for Leon Lett the person," owner Jerry Jones said in a one-paragraph
statement. "Our thoughts are with him and his family. And
we will continue to offer our help and support any way we can.
No other Cowboy official, including coach Barry Switzer, would
Also See Dallas
Lett is the second high-profile Cowboy to receive a drug-related
suspension this season. All-Pro wide receiver Michael Irvin was
suspended for the first five games of the season after pleading
no contest to drug charges stemming from an arrest.
Six Dallas players have been suspended since 1994 for violations
of the league's drug policy.
Lett, the Cowboys best defensive lineman and a former Pro
Bowl player, will be replaced in the lineup by Tony Casillas.
The defending Super Bowl champions (8-5) are tied for first place
in the NFC East.
Lett, 28, was recently informed that he had violated the policy,
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. Lett appealed the penalty to
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who denied the appeal.
Lett was not immediately available for comment. He canceled
a scheduled radio talk show appearance.
His agent, Jim Steiner, was traveling and not in his office,
his secretary in St. Louis told The Associated Press.
Lett has been tested up to 10 times per month since the NFL
suspended him last season.
According to the NFL's substance policy, a suspended player
may not participate with his team in any way during the time
he is out. A player suspended for one year may apply for re-instatement
no sooner than 60 days prior to the one-year anniversary date
of his suspension.
He is the leading tackler on the Cowboys' top-rated defense.
He has recorded 3-1/2 sacks and recovered two fumbles.
In addition to his drug history, Lett may be best known for
two gaffes during games.
With the Cowboys leading comfortably in the 1993 Super Bowl,
Lett recovered a fumble, and holding it in one hand, returned
it 64 yards only to have Buffalo wide receiver Don Beebe catch
him from behind at the goal line and strip the ball before Lett
In a 1993 Thanksgiving Day game played in the snow, Lett bungled
an attempted fumble recovery in the closing seconds, giving the
Miami Dolphins a second chance to kick a game-winning field goal.
The Cowboys have been involved in a number of off-the-field
incidents in recent years besides Irvin's drug trial.
-- October 1994: Offensive lineman Erik Williams was
involved in a one-car wreck, and sustained a right knee injury
that sidelined him until next season. He later pleaded no contest
and received two years' probation on a misdemeanor drunken driving
-- April 1994: A 17-year-old topless dancer accused
Williams of sexually assaulting her at his North Dallas home.
A grand jury decided not to charge Williams two months later
after the teen-ager refused to cooperate with prosecutors following
an out-of-court settlement with the football star.
-- November 1995: The NFL suspended cornerback Clayton
Holmes for a year following a positive drug test.
-- April 1996: A Dallas grand jury indicted Irvin and
two women on drug charges. Irvin pleaded no contest and was put
on four years probation and fined $10,000.
The last time Lett was suspended he issued this statement:
"I regret that this situation has occurred and I apologize
for any actions on my part that led to the suspension. I regret
that this situation has occurred and I apologize to my family,
my teammates, Jerry Jones, the entire Cowboys organization and
all of my loyal fans who have supported me. I hope to put this
behind me as soon as possible."
Lett was a seventh-round draft pick in 1991 out of Emporia
State. Then-coach Jimmy Johnson took a chance on Lett because
of his imposing size - 6-foot-6, 300-plus pounds. He quickly
established himself as one of the best defensive linemen in the
NFL. His quickness has earned him the nickname "The Big
Cat" with teammates.
All content copyright 1996,
AP, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News
and Reporter OnLine
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