Rev. Jackson calls T.O. punishment 'much too severe'

Updated: November 15, 2005, 2:44 AM ET news services

PHILADELPHIA -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson called the Philadelphia Eagles' punishment of Terrell Owens "much too severe."

Wide Receiver
Philadelphia Eagles

Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
47 763 6 16.2 91 337

Jackson said in a statement released Friday that Owens could have been more professional when he publicly complained about his contract, his team and the Eagles' organization.

But Jackson said Owens' suspension without pay for four games and deactivation for the rest of the season is "much too severe for the charge" and hurts the athlete's NFL career at its height.

The civil rights activist said the level of punishment could have been warranted if Owens had been caught shaving points, selling drugs, carrying a gun or fighting fans without sufficient restraint.

"This does not warrant a one-year ban from the game," Jackson said, adding that the Eagles should release Owens to the open market or free agency if they no longer want to associate with him.

Ralph Nader, a consumer activist and former presidential candidate, has already called for the suspension to be rescinded.

Owens was suspended last week after he said in an interview that the Eagles showed "a lack of class" for not publicly recognizing his 100th career touchdown catch, and that the team would be better off with Green Bay's Brett Favre as quarterback. He has since apologized.

Owens' Friday appeal hearing of his four-game suspension will take place at the Eagles' practice facility, ESPN has confirmed. This will allow Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb, and possibly other Eagles employees to testify more easily.

The grievance hearing will be run by arbitrator Richard Bloch.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.