Team says Gardener violated contract clause

Updated: November 25, 2003, 7:41 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- The Denver Broncos suspended Daryl Gardener for two more games Tuesday after he lashed out publicly at head coach Mike Shanahan for an earlier one-game suspension.

The original suspension was for unspecified conduct detrimental to the team. Gardener responded by telling a Denver radio station on Friday he didn't believe Shanahan wants him on the team and calling the coach "that little man up there."

Those comments violated a clause in every NFL contract requiring players to give their best efforts and loyalty to their team, the Broncos said in a statement on Tuesday.

The new suspension means Gardener, a defensive tackle, will miss the Nov. 30 game at Oakland and the Dec. 7 game against Kansas City in Denver. He missed last Sunday's 19-10 loss to Chicago because of the first suspension.

Shanahan talked with team leaders before extending Gardener's suspension, and all supported the action, the Broncos said.

Neither Gardener nor the team has said what led to the first suspension. But Gardener told KRFX radio he believed he was "set up" to overreact to an edited tape shown to players 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."

Gardener signed a seven-year, $34.8 million deal with Denver in the offseason but hasn't fulfilled the team's 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 altercation.

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.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press