Panthers players reportedly testify before grand jury

Updated: April 28, 2005, 9:13 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Todd Sauerbrun, who is reportedly cooperating with investigators in a steroids probe, will not attend Carolina's mini-camp this weekend because the Panthers want to evaluate other punters.

Todd Sauerbrun
Carolina Panthers
Punts Avg In 20 In 10 Blk Long
76 44.1 25 8 1 65

"We know what Todd can do and we want to look at the guys we have here," general manger Marty Hurney said Thursday, referring to offseason signees Steve Cheek and Tom Rouen.

Hurney said the decision is not related to the CBS report that identifies Sauerbrun as one of three Panthers who obtained illegal steroid prescriptions from South Carolina alternative medicine doctor James Shortt.

Several Panthers players testified this week before a federal grand jury about Shortt, The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C., reported in Thursday editions, citing anonymous sources familiar with the probe.

The report did not name the players involved, but said Sauerbrun was not one of them because he is cooperating with investigators. Hurney said the Panthers had no information about the testimony.

Offensive linemen Jeff Mitchell and Todd Steussie, who is now with Tampa Bay, were the other two players named in the CBS report. A lawyer for Steussie said his client is also cooperating with investigators.

"He has not been asked to appear before the grand jury, but will if asked," J. Pete Strom told the newspaper, adding that the athletes are not a target of the investigation of Shortt.

Calls Thursday by The Associated Press to the offices of Shortt and his attorney, Ward Bradley, were not immediately returned.

Nancy Wicker, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Columbia, cited federal rules in saying she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a grand jury.

The State reported that the grand jury is hearing testimony on whether Shortt illegally prescribed steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to current and former Panthers, as well as to bodybuilders.

Strom said NFL investigators have visited Columbia this week, trying to determine whether the league's drug rules were violated.

Shortt's medical license was suspended April 14 after the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners found he prescribed the steroid testosterone to four unidentified patients in doses that were "extremely unlikely to have been prescribed with any legitimate medical justification."

Sauerbrun, considered the NFL's best punter, was charged with drunken driving late last year, capping a season in which he refused to fill in for kicker John Kasay unless the team refunded money it had fined him for being overweight.

Hurney has acknowledged the team was trying to trade Sauerbrun even before the Panthers became aware of the report that he was involved in an investigation of Shortt.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press