Ex-Wildcat Levy suspended for one year

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

For former UA all-purpose back Chuck Levy, 1993 marked the height of his football career.

Last Friday marked the low.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue released a statement on Friday reporting that Levy, a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, was suspended one year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

The NFL's statement indicated a Stage 3 violation, the most serious. Stage 1 requires participation in a rehabilitation and education program. Stage 2 involves a second violation and may involve a fine of four weeks' pay or suspension for four regular-season games without pay.

The one-year suspension won't end until Aug. 25, 1996. Levy will have to miss next year's training camp and preseason, and coach Buddy Ryan isn't known for leniency to those who don't or can't practice.

"I feel sorry for Mr. B (owner Bill Bidwill)," Ryan said. "I feel sorry for the coaches who worked with him, and I feel sorry for his teammates. But I don't feel sorry for him at all."

Levy, who decided to forego his senior year at the UA, was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 1994 draft. He follows linebacker Jamir Miller a former UCLA player and the Cardinals' first-round choice in '94 as the second Cardinals player to be suspended this season after violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Miller was suspended two weeks ago and will miss the first four games of the season.

Levy's suspension, which will cost him over $300,000 in salary, comes just 20 months after he rushed for 147 yards in the 1994 Fiesta Bowl, earning offensive player of the game honors while leading the underdog Wildcats to victory over No. 10 Miami. He ranks sixth in Arizona history with 3,795 all-purpose running yards.

Levy said on Aug. 3 that he had hired an attorney to help him appeal a pending NFL action against him. If the decision is final, he would have to apply to the league for reinstatement before playing in the NFL again.

But even if he manages to successfully appeal this ruling, Levy will always have the label of drug-use hanging over him, and that label might cost him millions in the future.

"I'm sorry to see that happen to Chuck," said UA head coach Dick Tomey. "He was a great player for us."

The decision also hit home for present Wildcat players, especially those that played with Levy.

"I think it's a stiff penalty for Chuck. It's going to be hard for him to deal with this," said senior strong safety Brandon Sanders, Levy's former teammate. "I think it's important for the press and everyone to believe that players are still people and make mistakes."

"I guess when someone makes it that far to the next level, (the punishment) is pretty hard," said senior nose guard Chuck Osborne, also a former teammate of Levy's. "I think that's a harsh punishment. I hate to see that happen because he's a very talented person."

But even with that in mind, players such as quarterback Dan White still feel the NFL's strong policy is needed.

"The league sets standards that they feel should be followed," said White, who shared a backfield with Levy in '93. "And if they're going to crack down on this problem they have to be tough and stick to those standards."

And while this penalty might seem harsh to Levy now, it might have saved him from an even worse one in the future.

"If he can take it in stride and learn from it," Sanders said, "he might become a better person and player because of it, and maybe not make that mistake again."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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