Ravens defensive tackle Larry Webster said he was suspended for the 1996 season because of alcohol consumed two days before he was married, which violated the league's substance-abuse policy.
Webster's suspension was announced Tuesday, the result of a third positive test during his five-year NFL career.
"I have people walking up to me saying they think it was for drugs," Webster, 27, a former University of Maryland standout, vTC said in his first public statements since the suspension. "But that's not true. I tested positive for drinking alcohol. That was my only violation."
"I was tested on June 28, one day before I got married," said Webster, who was subject to 10 urine tests per month from the league because of the previous violations. "The league isn't concerned about what or why I was drinking; their policy is in black and white. I used real bad judgment."
A Ravens official said the league does not notify teams about the substance used, but confirmed Webster's account of a bachelor party shortly before his wedding.
Webster, an Elkton native, signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent on May 4, 1995.
He was suspended nearly three months later, for six games of the 1995 season, after a second positive test for marijuana, Webster said.
But since then, Webster said, he has not been involved with illegal drugs, which made his latest violation even more frustrating.
"No question, this has hurt," Webster said. "I haven't been out a lot since it happened. I've been depressed, but not to the point where I have considered hurting myself.
"But life goes on, and I have to turn this whole thing into a positive situation," said Webster.
Webster was expected to start this season. Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said he had a strong showing in the team's first preseason game, against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But nearly three weeks ago, Webster was demoted from first to second and eventually third team, as team officials learned of the positive test.
Webster appealed the test results on Aug. 8.
"The coaching staff knew of the results," Webster said. "They knew they had to get someone else ready, and I can't fault their decision."
Webster received $400,000 in bonuses for attending minicamp and training camp, but will not receive any of his $400,000 in base salary this season.
He will need to petition commissioner Paul Tagliabue for reinstatement before being allowed to return next season. Webster won't be allowed to work out or practice with the team for the rest of the season.
"Financially, I'm pretty sound. Now, I just have to get my family settled in," said Webster, who is moving his family from Hagerstown to Elkton. "I've got some great people working for me, so that won't be a problem. I'm going to go out and look for employment, but that may be kind of difficult since all I've done is play pro football the last four years.
"But I talked with some of the guys on the team before I left, and I'm still under contract with the Ravens," said Webster. "The Ravens gave me a training program, and I'm going to follow it. I may be out for a season, but I know I can still play. I'm preparing to come back."
Pub Date: 8/26/96