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Arbitrator in Jets case has tickets for 'Skins

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 10, 2003

ASHBURN, Va. -- The arbitrator who awarded kick returner Chad Morton to Washington on Monday is a Redskins season-ticket holder.

And the Jets, who lost Morton -- the fourth player to leave the team for Washington as a free agent -- knew about it.

Richard Bloch ruled the Jets did not match Washington's five-year, $8-million offer to Morton, a restricted free agent. New York, on advice from the NFL Management Council, left out a voidable-years provision in the deal, and the NFLPA challenged the Jets contract.

"The NFLPA wants to make it clear that arbitrator Bloch disclosed this fact to all of the parties before the arbitration hearing," the union said in a release, "and that all of the parties, including the Jets, immediately agreed that arbitrator Bloch should hear and decide the arbitration."

The union added that reports it "helped to convince the Jets that it was appropriate for arbitrator Bloch to continue to serve are absolutely false."

Union leaders explained it was not unusual for an arbitrator to also be a season-ticket holder for a team. Bloch has been an NFL arbitrator for 15 years.

The ruling was another setback for the Jets, whose general manager, Terry Bradway, last month chided Redskins owner Dan Snyder for overpaying for free agents.

Morton and the Redskins were pleasantly surprised by the ruling. "Here at least I know I'll get a chance," Morton said.

BENGALS: Receiver Kwazeon Leverette signed a two-year deal.

FALCONS: Quarterback Mike Vick told coach Dan Reeves he'll arrive Monday in time for the third week of workouts.

"He had some stuff to do, and so I told him to just get it done and come in Monday," said Reeves, who declined to divulge his quarterback's whereabouts.

Also, the team made a one-year contract offer to Todd McClure, the starting center the past 21/2 seasons and a free agent. McClure is seeking a multiyear contract.

LIONS: Free-agent linebacker Earl Holmes signed a three-year deal.

TEXANS: Free-agent running back Stacey Mack signed.

OBIT: Louis "Red" Stephens, a guard for the Redskins from 1955-60, died. He was 72.

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