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Anderson may opt for legal action

DENVER -- Denver Broncos fullback Mike Anderson has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse
policy, the league said Tuesday.

Anderson will lose about $317,000 of his $1.35 million salary
and won't be eligible to return until after Denver's Dec. 8 game
against Kansas City. The NFL did not detail the violation.

Anderson told The Denver Post the positive test was for
marijuana, but that he inhaled nothing more than secondhand smoke.
He also presented evidence from a toxicologist in an appeal to the
NFL.

"I'm very saddened by the decision made by the NFL," Anderson
told the newspaper. "I know this has a tremendous negative impact
on my team, my coaches, my family and fans. I tested positive for
marijuana use at a level that was so low, it would have been deemed
a negative test by the state of Colorado."

Anderson is one of the most popular Broncos, an ex-Marine with a
clean-cut image. But it is unlikely this is Anderson's first
positive test for marijuana: Under NFL policy, a suspension doesn't
come until after at least one positive test and the player has
entered a confidential drug-testing program.

Anderson's lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, said he and his client will
consider legal action against the NFL.

"We're looking at all possibilities in this situation,
including trying to get the NFL to take a more serious look at the
impacts of its policy and how it affects players who are not
involved in any type of improper drug usage," Steinberg told the
Post. "If that, in effect, involves court action, that's something
we'll examine."

Anderson was the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2000,
when he rushed for 1,487 yards and 15 touchdowns after replacing
injured starter Olandis Gary. Anderson moved to fullback last year
after Denver drafted Clinton Portis, and he has also has served as
the backup tailback.

He has 198 yards rushing and two touchdowns and 10 catches for
42 yards and two TDs this season.

Losing Anderson leaves Denver with three running backs on its
active roster: Portis, Reuben Droughns and rookie Quentin Griffin.
Droughns will fill in at fullback and the Broncos will likely sign
rookie Cecil Sapp off their practice squad to add depth.

In the past month, Denver has lost backup quarterback Steve
Beuerlein and starting linebackers Ian Gold and John Mobley for the
season due to injuries. Quarterback Jake Plummer, who's due back
this Sunday against San Diego, Portis, receiver Ed McCaffrey,
strong safety Kenoy Kennedy, left tackle Ephraim Salaam and
defensive tackle Daryl Gardener also have missed time this season.

Denver opened the season 4-0, but has lost four of its last five
games since the injuries hit.