Raiders’ Darrell Russell Suspended
NAPA, Calif. (AP) _ Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Darrell Russell was suspended by the NFL for the first four regular-season games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Russell can be reinstated on Oct. 1, following the Raiders’ Sept. 30 game against Seattle. His suspension has already been unsuccessfully appealed to the NFL.
Russell said the violation was procedural, and that he did not fail a substance-abuse test. An official visited his home in Oakland more than a year ago when he was not home, he said.
``Basically, what I have to say is that I did not test positive. Someone showed up at my house, and I wasn’t there,″ he said.
His agent, Leigh Steinberg, called the violation an ``administrative transgression.″
``Look, the only abuse that’s occurred here is an abuse of power,″ Steinberg said.
Russell, the second overall pick in the 1997 draft out of Southern California, was selected to the Pro Bowl in his second season. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound tackle had three sacks and 31 tackles last season.
The NFL does not disclose details of substance-abuse violations. Its policy covers a wide range of issues, including the illegal use of drugs and the abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs.
The policy also includes a series of drug-testing regulations that some players must meet.
Russell admitted he was under heightened scrutiny because of a previous test involving ``second-hand smoke.″ He would not elaborate.
Steinberg said Russell had passed some 200 substance-abuse tests successfully.
``This is not someone who uses illegal substances,″ Steinberg said. ``The record’s pretty clear on this.″
Russell will lose his salary, nearly $112,000 per game, while he is suspended.
While he can still work out with the team during training camp, he is not allowed to train with the Raiders or use their facilities once the regular season starts and for the duration of the suspension.