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Raiders' Wheatley Hits Photographer

Running back was preparing to testify before grand jury about BALCO.

November 14, 2003|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Oakland Raider running back Tyrone Wheatley hit a photographer outside a federal courthouse Thursday, hours before testifying before a grand jury probing a nutritional supplements lab.

Wheatley was one of five NFL players -- including four Raiders -- to appear Thursday before the panel. Others included former NFL defensive player of the year Dana Stubblefield and Kansas City Chief wide receiver Johnnie Morton.

Also appearing before the grand jury Thursday was Marion Jones, who won five track medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"I can't make any comment, you guys. I would if I could, but I can't," Jones said as she left the grand jury room.

Wheatley threatened and cursed at a group of photographers and TV cameramen outside the building, then raised his right fist and slapped photographer Noah Berger hard on the right wrist after Berger took a photo of him Thursday morning.

Berger, a freelance photographer on assignment for Associated Press, said he was not hurt. He filed a report with the Federal Protective Service, but it was not clear whether Wheatley would be charged.

Wheatley, who appeared before the grand jury in the afternoon, declined to comment when asked repeatedly about the incident.

The five players -- also including Raider fullback Chris Hetherington and defensive tackle Chris Cooper -- were the first non-track and field athletes to testify in the case, which focuses on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

Stubblefield, the NFL defensive player of the year in 1997 while with the San Francisco 49ers, declined to comment after his morning appearance.

Morton, who had four seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving for the Detroit Lions before joining the Chiefs two seasons ago, also refused to comment.

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