Anderson may take legal action vs. NFL

Updated: November 13, 2003, 9:00 AM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Although disappointed Mike Anderson was suspended for violating the league's drug policy, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan didn't necessarily agree the fullback was at fault.

Shanahan didn't go into details, but essentially said he supported Anderson's claim that his positive marijuana test was a result of secondhand smoke.

"All I can say is, if Mike were applying for a job in any organization including yours, and he took a test it would have been negative," Shanahan said Wednesday. "Now is that fair? I'm going to let them take it up with the lawyers and talk about his scenario."

Anderson was suspended Tuesday for four games by the league for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Anderson said the positive test came from secondhand smoke and the amount of marijuana found in his system would not been considered illegal in Colorado.

Anderson's lawyer said he is looking into legal action against the NFL for penalizing players not involved in improper drug usage.

"I can't get into all the details I would like to at this time because he's got an attorney and he feels very strongly about his position right now,'' Shanahan said. "Not many people take on the NFL. I'm not sure if Mike's going to do that or his lawyer is going to do that, but they feel they have a very strong case."

Anderson's suspension comes at a difficult time for Denver.

The Broncos have been hit hard by injuries, losing two starting linebackers and backup quarterback Steve Beuerlein for the season just in the past month. Denver has lost four of its past five games after a 4-1 start.

Things were looking up this week with the possible returns of quarterback Jake Plummer and left tackle Ephraim Salaam, but the loss of Anderson takes away some of the steam.

"It's a very, very serious blow for us because we count on Mike from a fullback standpoint and from a special teams standpoint," tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "The timing couldn't have come at a worse time, but it is what it is and we'll deal with it."

The Broncos weren't about to abandon one of the team's most popular players. Plummer said he's going to support Anderson no matter what, sentiments echoed by Sharpe.

"Mike is a great guy. That doesn't diminish anything, any views that I have of Mike Anderson," Sharpe said. "People make mistakes in life, and it's very bad that we live in a very public society, he's a very public person and some of his laundry has to be aired."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press