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Titans' Haynesworth apologizes to Gurode

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 3, 2006) -- After dialing his number all day with no luck, Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth finally got the chance Oct. 3 to personally apologize to Andre Gurode for tearing open the Cowboys center's face with a cleat.

Haynesworth spent much of the day getting nothing but unanswered rings and a full voice mail box, then connected in the late afternoon with Gurode, who needed 30 stitches to repair the facial cuts.

"The purpose of the conversation was to apologize," said Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck.

Haynesworth was suspended five games without pay by the NFL -- the longest-ever punishment in the NFL for on-field behavior -- for kicking Gurode's helmet off, then swiping his cleated foot on his face while he lay on the ground. Speck said Haynesworth wouldn't appeal, even though the NFL Players Association wanted him to try.

"He said Sunday night he would accept the league's decision of what to do from a discipline standpoint, and that's what he's going to do," Speck said.

Haynesworth's agent gave the tackle's phone number to Gurode's agent and the Cowboys, hoping to connect the players. That finally happened, but Speck wouldn't detail the conversation and said he is leaving that to either Gurode or Haynesworth -- if they choose.

Gurode's agent, Kennard McGuire, did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press.

The Dallas center plans to talk with his family about whether or not to press charges, his agent told Nashville police Oct. 2.

Haynesworth's suspension was more than twice as long as the previous punishment for a player's misbehavior on the field. Green Bay lineman Charles Martin got two games for throwing Chicago quarterback Jim McMahon onto his shoulder in 1986.

The NFL Players Association is studying the suspension.

"We're just in the fact-finding stage right now," NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis said before Haynesworth's decision not to appeal.

"For what I did, whatever they give me, I deserve it. I did it, and it's wrong," Haynesworth said after he was ejected from the 45-14 loss to Dallas on Oct. 1.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Gurode still had blurry vision Oct. 2. Gurode said after the game that he would have gone back on the field if his vision had been clear.

But fans and even people who pay no attention to sports condemned Haynesworth's actions; many said five games wasn't enough. Haynesworth was replaced by a rookie teammate on his weekly radio show Oct. 2, which airs live from a shopping mall south of Nashville.

The Titans agreed to terms with Tony Brown as a replacement for Haynesworth on the defensive line. His suspension had left Tennessee with veteran Robaire Smith, Randy Starks in his third season and rookie Jesse Mahelona, who sprained a knee against Dallas. Brown is a two-year veteran who has four career starts and was most recently with Carolina.

The Titans asked the league to clarify the restrictions that would be on Haynesworth during the suspension, which will keep him off the field until Nov. 19, when the Titans visit Philadelphia. Players suspended for substance abuse violations cannot work out with their teams nor attend games, but it was not clear if those rules applied to Haynesworth.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said because there is no precedent for a suspension of this length for on-field activities, the NFL was researching what might apply and will get back to the team.

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