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Unhappy with offer, Hambrick threatens to retire

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2001


Lacoochee native and Pasco High football legend Darren Hambrick and the Dallas Cowboys are at an impasse over a new contract, and without a substantial raise, Hambrick is threatening to retire after four years in the NFL, according to news reports.

Hambrick missed a voluntary quarterback camp this week and it is unclear whether he will attend a voluntary four-day mini-camp starting Monday.

Hambrick's family in Lacoochee said he was in the area but unavailable for comment.

The 6-foot-2, 227-pound Hambrick helped lead Pasco to the Class 3A state title in 1992 and his brother, Troy, is a backup running back on Dallas' roster. But Hambrick, a restricted free agent, told the Dallas Morning News that the Cowboys' offer of a one-year, $512,000 contract is not enough.

That was the tender Dallas made to reserve the right to match any contract another team might offer Hambrick, but none have so far. Hambrick must sign by June 15 or the team could lower the contract to $418,000. He could also be released.

Hambrick recorded 77 tackles and one sack playing linebacker for the 5-11 Cowboys in 2000, and has remained the starter despite attempts by the team to replace him. Yet the Cowboys' offer of the league minimum for a four-year veteran means he would be paid less than some defensive backups.

Hambrick said he wants more money to secure the financial future of his family -- or else.

"I'm contemplating retirement," Hambrick told the Morning News. "I hope we can work something out because next year is not promised to me.

"I'm not mad with them, but this is business. My mom is sick. My grandmother is sick, and there are things I have to provide for them and my dad."

Cowboys officials said they weren't pleased by Hambrick's stance, but are willing to give him time.

"He's earned the right for us to be patient," head coach Dave Campo told the Morning News.

"I can't tell you at what point I'll start to lose my patience, but I'm not at that point yet."

Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said, "I think he's hurting himself. I know what the attitude of the coaches and players are, and his not being here can't be good for him."

"I love being with the Cowboys, wearing that star on my helmet and representing Dallas," Hambrick told the paper. But he also said he has earned more than a minimum contract offer.

"I don't know how much it would take for me to play with Dallas, but I know it when I hear it. I don't feel like I'm a routine player anymore."

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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