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 Reporter-News Archives


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 time.

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 comment.


Also See Dallas Morning-News Version

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 could score.

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 offense.

-- 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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