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Townsend Gets a Hearing, Raiders Get Angrier

October 10, 1986|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

The Raiders' Greg Townsend, suspended for one game by National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle, has appealed and has been granted a hearing.

This is in accordance with the NFL constitution. The Raiders, however, are anything but happy.

The two words heard most often in El Segundo to describe it Thursday were kangaroo court.

"This is strictly Al Davis and Pete Rozelle," kicker Chris Bahr said. "If the tables were reversed, I don't think--and I stress the word think --anyone would have been thrown out."

Said Joe Browne, NFL director of communications, from New York: "This is an outgrowth of one thing, but not of that (the Rozelle-Davis enmity). This is an outgrowth of Townsend's actions on the field Sunday."

The hearing was scheduled for this afternoon in a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport. Jay Moyer, NFL executive vice president and league counsel, will preside.

"It'll be Jay Moyer and one of their other legal beagles," Raider executive Al LoCasale said. "Moyer's title used to be counsel to the commissioner. Now he's executive vice president of the NFL."

How does that work, someone asked.

"You're trying to draw an inference that one of (Rozelle's) employes is going to have to come out and overrule him," LoCasale said.

The NFL said that Moyer is only assembling additional evidence for Rozelle.

"Moyer will preside at the hearing," Browne said. "He will then discuss the hearing fully with Commissioner Rozelle. The commissioner will review the visual evidence once more, if necessary. The commissioner will then make a prompt ruling on Townsend's appeal."

Townsend was suspended for his part in the melee late in the first half last Sunday, which also involved the Kansas City Chiefs' Brad Budde, Dave Lutz and Mark Adickes.

"He pursued Budde at a point at least 15 yards from the ballcarrier (Jeff Smith, who had caught a swing pass from Todd Blackledge) and struck Budde in the back," Browne said.

"Two, he stomped on the uncovered head of Dave Lutz, who had already lost his helmet and was in a prone position on the field. Third, he grabbed the face mask of Adickes and ultimately ripped the helmet from his head.

"All three of his acts, particularly the last two, were in the head and neck area and could have inflicted serious injury."

Said Townsend: "I think Pete Rozelle overreacted. He could have settled it with a less stiff penalty. It wasn't like I took a gun out there.

"The first incident was an accident. They say I speared Budde with my helmet. I tripped over him pursuing the play. My headgear didn't touch him.

"The other things were just reactions. I was just protecting myself. They said I kicked a guy (Lutz) in the head when he wasn't wearing a helmet (Townsend has admitted doing that). As if it would have been semi-OK if the guy had had a helmet on. And the thing with Adickes, Adickes had hit me."

Townsend is hoping to plea-bargain the penalty down to a fine. The Raiders signed the recently-waived Elvis Franks Thursday against the possibility that he can't.

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