Portis agrees to pay Ohalete $18K
Just one day shy of going to court to settle their digital dispute, the numbers nuttiness between former Washington Redskins teammates has been resolved.
Redskins tailback Clinton Portis on Monday agreed to pay former Washington safety Ifeanyi Ohalete $18,000 of the $20,000 that the latter claimed he was owed for giving uniform No. 26 to Portis a year ago. The settlement brought the tab in the case, not including attorneys fees, to $38,000.
"I really wasn't looking for vindication. I just wanted to get this thing over with," Ohalete told The Associated Press. "I did my half and I just wanted what was mine in return.
"It worked out better for me. I didn't want to miss practice," he said.
According to the agreement between the players, Portis had agreed to pay Ohalete $40,000 for the uniform number and had already shelled out $20,000. The remaining $20,000 was in question until Monday, with the players scheduled for a Tuesday session in a Maryland courtroom.
John Steren, the attorney for Ohalete, who is now with the Arizona Cardinals, confirmed the settlement. He said he received a call on Monday morning from Portis' lawyer, David Donovan, and that the matter was settled amicably and expeditiously. The settlement did not include a confidentiality clause.
"It took just a matter of hours and most of that time was spent trying to reach our clients," Steren said. "I think both players are glad to put this behind them. They can get on with their business now. I think they've got bigger things to move on to."
Athletes' attachments to certain jersey numbers is ubiquitous on all levels, leading to spats when ordering uniforms for church league softball and deep-pocketed deals between marquee pros.
Eli Manning, for example, had to pay for punter Jeff Feagles' family vacation to Florida to snag the preferred No. 10 after the New York Giants drafted Manning with the No. 1 overall pick in 2004. Feagles also got a new outdoor kitchen in his home from Plaxico Burress when he gave Burress his No. 17 after the wide receiver signed with New York.
When Portis signed with the Redskins last year, he immediately honed in on No. 26, which he wore for two seasons with the Denver Broncos. However, the number already belonged to Ohalete, who didn't want to give it up. Protracted negotiations led to a contract signed by Portis, Ohalete and witness Brad Berlin, the Redskins equipment manager.
"The document is being drawn on June 4, 2004, to verify the agreement between Clinton Portis and Ifeanyi Ohalete for the sale of Ifeanyi's jersey number in exchange for monetary compensation," the contract said.
It called for Portis to pay Ohalete $40,000 in three installments -- $20,000 immediately, $10,000 by Week 8 of the NFL season and $10,000 by Christmas Day. Portis paid the $20,000 upfront and got his coveted No. 26. Ohalete switched to No. 30.
But then Ohalete was cut by the Redskins during training camp in August and was claimed off waivers by Arizona. Portis apparently felt Ohalete's departure voided the rest of the contract, so he didn't pay the final two installments.
"I think he's crazy," the AP quoted Portis as telling Sirius NFL Radio after the suit was filed in late December. "How could you request something when you got cut, but I would have had the number anyway. I think he's crazy, so I guess we'll be in court together."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .
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