Pittsburgh Steelers guard Terry Long was hospitalized yesterday and treated for an apparent suicide attempt after he learned he tested positive for steroid use, according to a newspaper report.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said in today's editions that Long, 32, was admitted to the emergency room at Allegheny General Hospital after ingesting what a law enforcement source described as rat poison.
The source, who wasn't identified by the newspaper, had police reports about Long and said, "I don't think there's any doubt whatsoever Mr. Long made an attempt on his life."
The Journal-Constitution quoted the source as saying there was "an extremely slim chance" the poisoning was accidental.
Long faces a suspension from the National Football League after tests revealed he used steroids, according to teammates and newspaper and broadcast reports.
The Steelers and an NFL spokesman both declined to discuss Long's test results Thursday, but several of Long's teammates confirmed that he had tested positive.
* 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.
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.
* 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.
* VIKINGS: Defensive end Chris Doleman and quarterback Rich Gannon reported to training camp after signing contracts.
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."