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Van Horn Advocate


Thursday, August 7, 1997

Cowboys solve one problem...

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AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Aug. 7 -- By fining Barry Switzer $75,000, Dallas owner Jerry Jones has made it clear he's finished putting up with incidents that tarnish the Cowboys' star.

But will the stiff punishment diminish the stature of Switzer, long reputed to be a coach with loose reins on his teams, in the eyes of his players?

Troy Aikman, the man known as the conscience of the Cowboys and a critic of Switzer in the past, says no.

Aikman applauded Switzer for taking on a more defined leadership role, especially among rookies, in his fourth year.

Switzer has caught the attention of his players by getting in their faces, even slapping some helmets around when he is disappointed with effort at practices.

Aikman said Switzer's arrest and subsequent fine -- the largest ever imposed on an NFL coach -- for carrying a loaded, unlicensed .38-caliber revolver into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday won't reduce the coach's credibility.

``I think it's been good for Barry to take more of a leadership role for this training camp,'' Aikman said.

``I don't think this takes away from that. I think the guys that he's reaching out to are the younger players, and I think that they are still going to respond to him after this.''

Switzer, who said he accepts Jones' actions, made a point to address the team after learning of the fine Wednesday.

``I've talked to our team and I have expressed to them that there is no way that this will not allow us to carry on and do the job that's at hand,'' Switzer said. ``It won't take away from the great work and effort that they've given us while we've been here in Austin.''

In levying the fine, Jones said the coach's arrest on a gun charge brought ``pain and embarrassment'' to a team trying to repair its image.

``It's a serious and significant fine,'' Jones said. ``I made the fine what I made it because of his role as a coach. It would have been different if he were a player.''

Jones said Switzer's job was not in jeopardy.

Switzer, who earns an estimated $1 million a year and has three years left on his contract, including this season, said the fine ``hurts not only financially, but much more than the dollars.''

``I really do understand the seriousness of this incident, regardless of how innocent, how unintentional it was. It certainly caused a lot of harm for a lot of people and certainly me,'' Switzer said.

The fine will be donated to the families of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty.

The NFL said the penalty was sufficient and that it would not impose its own punishment.

``The Cowboys' fine sends a clear message that this type of gun-related misconduct, whether intentional or mistaken, will not be tolerated by the Cowboys and violates the league's weapons policy,'' commissioner Paul Tagliabue said.

The fine surpasses the $30,000 that Tagliabue imposed on then-Cincinnati coach Sam Wyche for failing to allow women reporters into the team's locker room after a 1990 game.

Jones has worked hard this year to repair the Cowboys' off-the-field image and was clearly embarrassed by Switzer's arrest.

The Cowboys have had five players receive seven NFL suspensions in the past three years, including two of the team's stars, Michael Irvin and Leon Lett, who violated the league's substance abuse policy.

Switzer has said he put the gun in his bag to hide it from children visiting his home but forgot to remove it before going to the airport.

Carrying a weapon into an airport is a third-degree felony, punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Law enforcement authorities said, however, that such cases are handled as misdemeanors if there are no prior felonies or weapons charges.

Carrying a handgun without a permit is a Class A misdemeanor under state law, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Under NFL policy, all league employees are barred from carrying firearms while on NFL premises or while conducting NFL business. A violation is subject to discipline by the commissioner.

...but a new one is born

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FORT WORTH, Aug. 7 (AP) -- The longtime girlfriend of Erik Williams has sued the Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman, alleging that he is the father of her newborn son, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Cassius Shakembe Williams was born July 9 to Shelley West, 24.

The newspaper, in today's editions, cited Williams attorney Peter Ginsberg as saying Ms. West and the 27-year-old Cowboys star had a lengthy relationship, but Williams isn't sure he fathered the woman's child.

The paternity suit, filed July 18, asked a Dallas family civil court judge to order Williams and Ms. West to undergo tests to establish paternity for the boy, Cassius Shakembe Williams.

The lawsuit also asked that Ms. West be given custody of the baby and that Williams be ordered to pay attorney fees, child support and a portion of the woman's prenatal and postnatal expenses.

``The child is entitled to have confirmation of who his biological father is. The mother is entitled to support for the child,'' said Ms. West's attorney, Gina Cecil.

Ms. Cecil said Williams has not paid her client any child support.

``Erik wants to determine the validity of the claim and then take the appropriate action,'' Ginsberg said.

A hearing on the suit has been set for Aug. 14 before Judge Theo Bedard.

Ginsberg and Ms. Cecil both said they do not know the status of the relationship between Williams and Ms. West. Both have unlisted telephone numbers and could not be reached.

Recently, Williams and teammate Michael Irvin settled a libel suit against Fort Worth television station KXAS and one of its reporters for $2 million.

That came after a former topless dancer told Dallas police that Williams and another man raped her in December while Irvin videotaped the attack. Police later determined that she fabricated the story and she was charged with perjury.

In April 1995, a 17-year-old accused Williams of sexually assaulting her, but later reached a settlement with Williams and asked prosecutors to drop the charge. Williams was assessed two years' probation in December 1994 after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge.

Boosters set to meet today in cafeteria

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PECOS, Aug. 7 -- The Pecos Eagles Athletic Booster Club will hold a meeting today at 7 at the Pecos High School cafeteria to make plans for two events the group will help put on next week.

The club is preparing to host a watermelon feed Monday night in the PHS cafeteria, during while players for the early season sports -- football, volleyball, tennis, cross country, rodeo and swimming -- will be introduced.

Monday's event is also scheduled for a 7 p.m. start, club president Dennis Thorp said during the boosters' meeting earlier this week.

Club members are seeking volunteers to help with the watermelon feed as well as with Tuesday's scheduled burger cookout, which will take place during an evening workout by the Eagles' football team.

The club is seeking new members, with a fee of $5 per person, and is also planning to sell the remaining 1996-97 Pecos Eagle T-shirts and caps during Tuesday's workout, before sales of 1997 shirts and caps get underway.

Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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