EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington equated the players union with organized crime Wednesday, 24 hours before he was scheduled to testify before Congress at a hearing involving his former agent.
Lawmakers will be looking into the NFL Players Association's suspension of Arrington's former agent, Carl Poston, stemming from his handling of a contract the linebacker signed with the Washington Redskins near the end of the 2003 season.
Arrington contends the union acted unfairly in taking away Poston's livelihood.
"They suspended him without a hearing, the NFLPA," Arrington said, sitting in front of his locker at Giants Stadium. "If you are educated and you pay attention to what is going on around you, they do a lot of foul stuff. It's like organized crime, to be honest with you. They are bad."
Union head Gene Upshaw told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday that Poston made a major mistake in the contract by omitting an alleged second $6.5 million roster bonus that was due in 2006.
"This isn't just about LaVar," Upshaw said. "This is about the other players this guy represents. We have a duty to the other players."
Upshaw added that the union and not Poston is officially Arrington's agent and that it tried to recover the money for Arrington when the mistake became known in January 2004.
"When we got into this, we did it to protect LaVar," Upshaw said. "I couldn't care less about Poston. I felt we'll take care of him [Poston] later, and we did."
Arrington plans to tell his side of the story to the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, which has scheduled an oversight hearing for Thursday to examine the NFLPA's arbitration process.
The subcommittee also plans to hear from NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen; and a law professor, according to a witness list" e-mailed to The Associated Press by House Judiciary Committee press secretary Terry Shawn on Tuesday.
Arrington contends that his $68 million, eight-year deal was hastily closed late in the 2003 season because the Redskins wanted to beat a deadline for salary-cap purposes.
Arrington said the Redskins faxed a final version of the contract without including the provision for a second $6.5 million roster bonus in 2006.
"I guess when they sent that, there was deception involved from the start and I guess they were hoping to bank on that and they got away with it," Arrington said.
Neither Arrington nor Poston noticed the error. Arrington signed the contract.
"I had no reason to believe at that time that if you are going to give me an eight-year contract and you are going to sit there and rob me, but that's the type of organization it is," Arrington said in another blatant shot at the Redskins.
Arrington had a falling out with the Redskins in 2005, and he bought out his contract this past offseason and signed with the Giants.
Upshaw said Poston had 14 days to review the contract after it was signed and he didn't discover the error.
"I ended up telling LaVar about it at the Super Bowl," Upshaw said.
The NFLPA's disciplinary committee recommended in March that Poston be suspended for two years. After several hearings about the case were postponed, the NFLPA suspended him.
Upshaw said all the meetings were postponed by Poston for excuses ranging from injuries to family problems.
"I don't know about the whole thing with the NFL, but I definitely know the PA does things that they definitely shouldn't do, and I don't think by any means, by any stretch of the imagination, do they always have the players' best interests in mind," said Arrington, adding he felt the Redskins and the players association were in cahoots in getting Poston suspended.
Arrington said he wasn't trying to lead a revolt against the union and its leaders. He said the suspension of Poston without a hearing was unfair.
"There are some things that they as an organization need to do a lot better," he said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press