Jets' McMillan charges racism, teammate says

December 27, 1992|By New York Daily News

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets defensive back Erik McMillan stormed off the field near the end of yesterday's 20-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints in a blaze of fury that could embroil the NFL in a racial controversy.

According to several team sources, McMillan became livid late in the fourth quarter, charging that one of the seven game officials had directed a racial epithet at him.

McMillan, who exchanged heated words with coach Bruce Coslet when he was later removed from the game, was led into the locker room by injured quarterback Ken O'Brien with about two minutes left to cool off. He declined to comment afterward.

"Erik said the [official] called him a 'nigger,' " defensive end Marvin Washington. "How's he supposed to react? He was all fired up about it in the huddle. . . . I would say his reaction was warranted. I see no reason for him to lie. I'm not going to dog him. If it ever happened to me, I can't say I wouldn't react the same way."

Then Washington added: "If it's true, the NFL should investigate it. There's enough racial tension throughout America without this bull."

Joe Browne, the league's vice president of communications, said: "It sounds highly unusual, but we will check into it at the soonest possible time."

McMillan and the official -- who could not be reached for comment -- had crossed paths during a brief scuffle between the defensive back and Saints tackle Richard Cooper.

Minutes after the alleged racial slur, McMillan downed a punt at the Saints 33 and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he angrily spiked the ball at the feet of referee Larry Nemmers.

When McMillan learned he would not be going back in for the defensive series, he and Coslet went at it until O'Brien stepped between them.

Perhaps McMillan felt he was being pulled because of the penalty, but defensive coordinator Pete Carroll said he already had decided to give Dennis Price the last couple of minutes in McMillan's spot.

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