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Wade Phillips Makes Appeal to NFL

May 16, 2001

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Former Buffalo coach Wade Phillips appealed to the NFL on Wednesday to force the Bills to resume paying the final year of his contract.

With Bills owner Ralph Wilson also on hand, Phillips presented his case to NFL arbitrator Jay Moyer during a daylong hearing in Buffalo. The hearing was closed to the public.

NFL spokeswoman Leslie Hammond said Moyer’s decision is binding, although there is no timetable for him to release a ruling.

Phillips did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press. Previously, Phillips had not ruled out taking legal action should the NFL rule against him.

Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold would not disclose any details of the hearing, only to say: ``Now it’s a matter of waiting for the NFL to make a ruling.″

Phillips, 29-19 in his three years with Buffalo, was under contract through the 2001 season when he was fired in January.

After getting a regular paycheck in the two months following his dismissal, Phillips said he received a letter dated March 15 saying the team would no longer pay him and had canceled his insurance benefits.

He was scheduled to make a reported $750,000 next season. Coaching contracts are guaranteed in the NFL.

The Bills argue Phillips failed to perform his duties, thus breaking the terms of his contract.

After an 8-8 season, Phillips was dismissed in part because of his refusal to fire assistant Ronnie Jones, whose special teams ranked last in the league in four categories. Phillips offered to reassign Jones and bring in a new special teams coach.

``I’m sure I didn’t do anything legally or morally wrong,″ Phillips said in March. ``It would set a bad precedent if a coach didn’t run the right play or didn’t agree with an owner _ sure, they fire you, but to take your salary away?″

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