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NFL takes issue with Carter's grievance
By Clarence E. Hill Jr.;Jennifer Floyd Engel
Star-Telegram Staff Writers
IRVING - Former Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter, who signed with the New York Jets on Wednesday, has the National Football League Players Association on his side.
And it seems that the NFL is lining up behind the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones.
According to a league source, the NFL has submitted a brief to have the wrongful termination grievance filed against the Cowboys removed from the jurisdiction of special master Stephen Burbank.
It's the NFL's contention that the case is a non-injury grievance that should be handled by an independent arbitrator rather than the special master, a source said.
In its filing with the special master two weeks ago, the NFLPA stated that the Cowboys violated the terms of the NFL collective bargaining agreement when they released Carter on Aug. 4. It's the NFLPA's belief that Carter was released for violating the league substance abuse program rather than their stated reason of "his performance being unsatisfactory." The terms of the collective bargaining agreement prevent a team from releasing a player for a failed test.
Burbank is expected rule next week on whether he will continue with the proceeding or kick it back to the NFLPA as non-injury grievance.
Jones, who has expressed confidence all along that the Cowboys would be absolved of any wrongdoing, is pleased to have the NFL's support.
"They are going through a procedural thing right now as to whether this thing should even be addressed by the special master," Jones said. "The league's contention is that this has no place there. There are some precedents."
Jones also believes that Carter's recent signing with the Jets makes the case moot -- considering part of the grievance was about lost wages. Carter has a chance to make more money in New York than his Cowboys contract provided in 2004. He signed a one-year deal for $455,000 in base salary, a source said. He got a $75,000 signing bonus and a $25,000 roster bonus. He has additional playing-time and performance incentives that could net him nearly $3 million.
Carter's contract with the Cowboys was for $455,000 in base salary and a $260,000 roster bonus that he has already received.
"With him having a job now, I saw where their representative said that kind of mitigates some of the issue here," Jones said. "After all, it was about at some point not having his income. What's crazy is he might make more than he would have made [with the Cowboys] with bonuses."
NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen was unavailable for comment Thursday.
On Tuesday, however, Berthelsen said Carter's signing with the Jets would not have any bearing on the case and that the NFLPA would continue to pursue the matter.
According to a source, the NFLPA is partly using the wrongful termination grievance to investigate reports that the Cowboys were conducting illegal drug testing. To that end, it's important that the case stays under the jurisdiction of the special master, which would force Jones and coach Bill Parcells to give full depositions.
Reducing it to a non-injury grievance would narrow the scope of the investigation.
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