DT calls Shanahan 'little man'

Updated: November 21, 2003, 7:07 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Denver Broncos defensive tackle Daryl Gardener lashed out at coach Mike Shanahan on Friday, a day after he was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Gardener called Shanahan "that little man up there" on a Denver radio station and said he doesn't believe Shanahan wants him on the team.

"So, my future is at stake right now. And right now, the way it's looking, this man doesn't want me to be a Denver Bronco because he doesn't even want me around the facility or around the players," Gardener said on KRFX radio.

Shanahan suspended Gardener for Sunday's game against Chicago on Thursday but didn't give specifics.

Gardener said he believes he was "set up" to overreact to an edited tape shown to players this week that depicted Gardener failing to hustle on several plays.

"Right now, I have to believe it was a sabotage for me to react, in order for them to suspend me for the year, or for conduct detrimental to the team," he said.

"It was a setup, because things weren't quite right."

Shanahan said Friday the suspension was an internal issue.

"It's an in-house issue and it will remain in house," Shanahan said. "I will meet with Daryl Tuesday and if the matter is resolved, he will play next week. If it isn't, we will move on from there."

Gardener was supposed to be Denver's big free agent acquisition in the offseason, getting a seven-year, $34.8 million deal with Denver.

But he's yet to fulfill those expectations. He was arrested in July after a late-night fight outside a pancake house and missed all of training camp because of wrist surgery stemming from the incident.

Gardener returned to practice in early September but missed the next four games because of lingering soreness in his wrist. He saw limited action his first two games before moving into the starting lineup for two games, starting Oct 12 against Baltimore.

Gardener was replaced as the starter by Mario Fatafehi last week, which may have had something to do with his suspension.

"I'll tell you what, that man is in control of that whole building," Gardener said. "If you want to be on that field, he can get me out on that field. For him to pull this power move, it's stupid. We could have talked about (it) like some men, but evidently we can't talk like some men."

Shanahan said he wouldn't respond to Gardener's comments because he didn't hear them.

"Let me say this. Anything that I'd comment would be to Daryl, (and) his agent, before I share it with anybody else," Shanahan said. "We do things in-house. We don't do it through the TV, we don't do it through the newspaper. If I did make a decision or I did make some comments, I would make it through that player before anyone."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press