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American Football: Saints Hodge suspended

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posted on Aug, 20 2004 @ 12:58 PM
Saints linebacker Sedrick Hodge has been suspended for four games by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy.

Hodge, a third-round draft selection by the Saints in 2001, was expected to start at strong-side linebacker this season. He will be unavailable for the first four games -- Sept. 12 against Seattle, Sept. 19 against San Francisco, Sept. 26 at St. Louis and Oct. 3 at Arizona.

Hodge is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games, but must leave the team Sept. 5.

The suspension will cost him four game checks of $36,941 each for a total loss of $147,764. The four-game suspension indicates that it is either a second or third violation of the league's policy, both of which can carry a four-game suspension with loss of pay

The earliest Hodge can be reinstated is Oct. 4, six days before the Saints' home game against Tampa Bay.

Third-year man James Allen, who was battling Hodge for a starting spot, will assume the starting role. Allen has worked with the first-team defense throughout training camp. He subbed in at weak-side linebacker in the 2003 season opener against Seattle. He has started two games in two seasons.

Hodge was unavailable for comment Friday. He accompanied the team on its afternoon flight to Green Bay, Wis., for Saturday night's preseason game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. Hodge's agent, Brian Mackler, also could not be reached for comment.

Hodge had a hearing July 27 to appeal the suspension, but the appeal was denied.

Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, all NFL suspensions are confidential. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello would only confirm the suspension.

Hodge, who will turn 26 on Sept. 13, has started 25 games in three seasons. He missed seven games last season with a fractured bone in his left leg. He had 47 tackles, including one sack, last season.

Hodge is playing under the one-year, $628,000 contract tendered to him in February as a restricted free agent. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

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