Holdout Humphrey rejoins Broncos

October 18, 1991

Running back Bobby Humphrey reported to the Denver Broncos yesterday, ending a sometimes-acrimonious, 97-day holdout.

Humphrey, a 1,000-yard rusher the past two seasons, walked out on the first day of training camp in July, demanding renegotiation of his four-year contract, which had two years remaining and was to have paid him $315,000 this year.

The Broncos insisted that Humphrey report to the team before any contract adjustments would be considered, and a stalemate ensued.

Denver entertained numerous trade offers for Humphrey and appeared on the verge of unloading the third-year pro, but ultimately the team rejected such offers as inadequate. When the NFL trading deadline passed last week, Humphrey either had to report or sit out the rest of the season.

"It's great to be back," Humphrey said at a news conference shortly after his arrival at Broncos headquarters. "I'm happy to be around a football environment again. I'm here to play ball. There are no hard feelings.

"Things are not worked out, but I'm happy."

Humphrey, who began practicing immediately, said he was in good running condition, but thought it might take two weeks for him to be ready to play.

In Humphrey's absence, Gaston Green, obtained last April in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, has rushed for 554 yards --third-best in the AFC.

* A class-action antitrust suit on behalf of NFL players who claim they were restricted by the first-refusal compensation system was filed against the league in federal court.

Named as members of the suit were all veteran players whose contracts expired as of Feb. 1, 1989, and were subjected to the compensation system unilaterally imposed by NFL clubs that year.

Two players -- Albert Lewis of the Chiefs and Wayne Radlof, formerly of the Falcons -- were named as class representatives.

"This case is as important as any filed thus far, since it covers the entire group of 250 plus players who were unlawfully restricted in 1989," said Dick Berthelsen, general counsel for the NFL Players Association. "Conservatively, treble damages for the group could exceed $300 million."

"Today's suit is a day late and a dollar short," the NFL said in a statement. "The facts are that the league filed suit on this same subject in Minnesota two days ago to confirm that an Eighth Circuit ruling in 1989 already bars the very claims filed in Washington D.C., today."

* JETS: Running back Freeman McNeil will be sidelined at least four weeks with a knee injury. McNeil, the team's all-time leading rusher, had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. No cartilage damage was found, but he does have a sprain of the medial collateral ligament.

McNeil, 32, has played sparingly this season, his 11th, and rushed for 166 yards on 27 carries, with two touchdowns. The knee has bothered him since preseason.

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