NFL -- Packer Lineman Brown Fined, Not Suspended -- That's A Boost For Line Beset By Injuries

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Gary Brown, an offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers, will be fined but not suspended for violating the NFL's substance-abuse program, Coach Mike Holmgren said.

Brown, 25, is believed to have entered the NFL's drug program after his April 1995 arrest for driving while intoxicated. He faced a possible four-game suspension after alcohol was discovered in a subsequent drug test. It is likely Brown will forfeit 4/17ths of his $196,000 base salary ($46,118).

The decision by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to show leniency represents a significant boost to the Packers' offensive line.

Brown opened training camp as the starting right guard, but moved to tackle when Ken Ruettgers was sidelined by a degenerative knee condition. Rookie center Mike Flanagan's broken leg forced Mike Arthur to work at left guard.

"It's good news for us," Holmgren said. "We were hopeful. And I think the right thing happened."

Irvin returns vehicle

DALLAS - Attorney Larry Friedman says Michael Irvin returned a $50,000 sport utility vehicle lent by car dealers who are suing the Dallas Cowboy receiver.

On Tuesday, the North Texas Toyota Dealers Association sued Irvin for damages, contending he violated deceptive-trade laws when he signed the endorsement contract misrepresenting himself as a moral person.

The dealers scrapped their spring ad campaign featuring Irvin when police found him, a former teammate and two topless dancers in an Irving motel room on March 4, along with marijuana, cocaine and drug paraphernalia.


-- The Cincinnati Bengals claimed Garrison Hearst off waivers from Arizona to back up Ki-Jana Carter, the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft who has not played in a regular-season game because of a knee injury. Hearst, the No. 3 pick in the 1993 draft, rushed for 1,070 yards last year, his first full season after two years interrupted by injuries.

-- Tampa Bay, still missing holdout Errict Rhett, claimed running back Reggie Brooks off waivers from Washington. Brooks rushed for 1,063 yards as a rookie in 1993 but played sparingly the past two seasons.

-- Miami traded kicker Pete Stoyanovich, who is fourth in field-goal accuracy in NFL history, to Kansas City for an undisclosed draft choice.

-- The New York Jets cut cornerback Vance Joseph, who started six games last season, and claimed rookie receiver Chris Doering off waivers from Jacksonville.

-- Carolina signed veteran cornerback Toi Cook two days after he was released by Denver.

-- Detroit signed free-agent linebacker Pepper Johnson.

-- In a $1 million civil suit in Cincinnati, Dallas cornerback-receiver Deion Sanders was acquitted by a jury of injuring a security guard while leaving Riverfront Stadium on a motor scooter two years ago.

-- The NFL suspended Baltimore defensive tackle Larry Webster for the 1996 season for a third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.

-- The Packers and quarterback Brett Favre are working on a contract extension that would keep the NFL's 1995 most valuable player with the team beyond the year 2000.

Compiled from Green Bay Press-Gazette, Associated Press and Bloomberg.