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Portis pays, settles number dispute

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Get it in writing.

You hear it all the time, and Arizona Cardinals safety Ifeanyi Ohalete is richer today because of it.

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis will be paying another $18,000 to wear No. 26 after attorneys for the three-time 1,000-yard rusher and Ohalete came to a settlement yesterday in a breach-of-contract complaint that the defensive back filed in December.

The dispute, which was scheduled to go to trial in Maryland district court today, came about when Portis reneged on an agreement to pay his former teammate the remainder of $40,000 for the jersey number, according to Ohalete, who was cut by Washington last summer and then signed by the Cardinals.

After Portis arrived in Washington last year as a result of a trade with the Broncos, he wanted the No. 26 he had worn in Denver. Ohalete happened to have No. 26 and, in a deal common among athletes, agreed to give it up - for a price.

Portis paid $20,000 up front, and the remainder was to be paid in two more installments. After Ohalete was cut in training camp, the payments were never made, he contended.

But Ohalete had a contract - a simple, one-paragraph agreement that both players signed and was witnessed, Ohalete's Washington-based lawyer John Steren said.

"Ifeanyi was smart enough to put the agreement on paper," Steren said. "It had all the elements of a contract. It was signed by both sides and a witness."

Dave Donovan, the lawyer for Portis, declined to comment.

Steren said Ohalete, who wears No. 25 with the Cardinals, was willing to settle the case for a little less than the full amount because it saved him a trip from Arizona.

"We're happy," Steren said.

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