Webster advises Morris to 'listen' Thrice-suspended ex-Terp says 'directions' crucial

September 23, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

Larry Webster doesn't know Ravens teammate Bam Morris that well. Webster left the team last summer after a season-long suspension for his third violation of the NFL's drug and alcohol policy, shortly before Morris had returned from a second four-game suspension.

Webster was at the Ravens' Owings Mills complex yesterday when Morris rejoined the team. Asked what advice he might give Morris, Webster said: "Follow directions and listen. It sounds easy saying it, but it's hard to do."

Webster, a former star at the University of Maryland, is still trying to heed his own words.

After twice failing drug tests for marijuana as a member of the Miami Dolphins -- the second incident resulting in a six-game suspension after he went to the Cleveland Browns as a free agent in 1995 -- Webster tested positive for alcohol in August 1996.

That resulted in the one-year suspension. During that time, Webster worked for an electrical contractor at an auto plant in Wilmington, Del., and also went for counseling. He said that he has continued to receive counseling.

Asked if the NFL's drug policy is effective, he said that the four- and six-game suspensions mean little more than a dent in a rather large paycheck.

"In my opinion, it didn't have any impact on me," said Webster. "If it did, I wouldn't have tested positive a couple of more times. It took me being out a year to understand that I had to change things in my life.

"You know, being out for four or six games, you know you're going to be back. Being out a whole year, you start asking, 'Will I be back? Will I have the same talent level when I come back? Will the team want me back when my suspension is over?' It gives you a lot more time to think."

Webster is still trying to answer some of those questions. He has a year left on a contract that will pay him a reported $400,000 for this season, but his future might hinge on how successful his comeback is. A starter before his one-year suspension, the 28-year-old defensive tackle is now a backup.

Like Morris, Webster is tested for alcohol under the terms of his suspension. He said he doesn't plan on any more mistakes, because the next will likely cost him his career.

"To take yourself out of situations where you're being offered a drink, you almost have to put yourself on a desert island," Webster said. "You can't take any chances."

Webster told The Sun during training camp that many of the friends with whom he used to party stopped calling after he was suspended from the NFL last season. But once he was cleared to play again by commissioner Paul Tagliabue, many came back, looking for tickets.

"One of the things my counselor worked on with me was getting out of certain situations where you might have a problem," said Webster, who declined to name his counselor. "Any program works if you're willing to follow directions. If you're not, it's a continuous battle. It's a struggle."

A struggle that Morris began facing today.

Pub Date: 9/23/97

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