Dreith files suit over his demotion by NFL


July 26, 1991

Longtime referee Ben Dreith, fired by the National Football League after the 1990 season, has filed a complaint in U.S.

District Court in Denver, claiming age discrimination by the league, his lawyer said Thursday.

Attorney Rich Vermeire said the lawsuit follows a Feb. 13 finding by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the NFL violated the Age Discrimination and Employment Act by illegally demoting Dreith, 66, in March 1990 from referee to line judge because of his age.

Dreith's career as a referee spanned three decades and included 28 playoff games and two Super Bowls.

* GIANTS: Linebacker Pepper Johnson returned to his home in Detroit, apparently upset over what the Giants are calling a misunderstanding in his contract negotiations.

Johnson is trying to negotiate a new contract without the help of an agent or legal representation. Johnson claims he and the Giants reached an agreement last week on figures that would make him the third-highest-paid defensive player on the team, behind Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks. The Giants contend there never was an agreement and issued Johnson a counter-offer last Friday.

Claiming the Giants had reneged on their offer, Johnson broke off talks and flew to Detroit. Harry Hulmes, the Giants' assistant general manager who is negotiating with Johnson, insisted no agreement had been reached.

* STEELERS: Guard Terry Long faces a suspension from the NFL after tests revealed he used steroids, according to teammates and broadcast reports.

The Steelers and an NFL spokesman both declined to discuss Long's test results, but several of Long's teammates confirmed he had indeed tested positive.

* VIKINGS: Assistant general manager Jeff Diamond got half his work done yesterday, working out deals with two of the team's four unsigned veterans.

Defensive end Chris Doleman and quarterback Rich Gannon each reported to training camp. It was too late for practice but in time for an evening team meeting.

Doleman wouldn't divulge the length of the contract, only saying it was longer than three years and less than 10. Gannon, who started 12 games last year after starter Wade Wilson was injured, signed for one year.

The signing of Doleman and Gannon leaves only safety Reggie Rutland and running back D.J. Dozier without contracts. Defensive end Al Noga, who is under contract, continued his holdout Thursday and is being fined $1,500 per day. Rookie Tripp Welborne is also unsigned.

* BUCCANEERS: Now that he has signed a contract, Ervin Randle figures he faces the battle of his career to stay with the team.

The seventh-year pro ended a six-day holdout after signing a one-year deal that reportedly could pay him more than $490,000 if he wins the starting strong-side linebacker job.

If he doesn't beat out teammate Kevin Murphy, Randle doesn't think he will remain with the team.

"I was asking for the same salary as Murph was making. You've got two guys making the same salary at one position," Randle said. "Only one's going to start and one's not going to accept the role of backing the other up."

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