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Belichick files suit against NFL

Seeks restraining order to allow him to talk to teams

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Posted: Monday January 24, 2000 08:26 PM

  Bill Belichick wants to challenge the NFL's ruling that he belongs to the New York Jets. AP

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Bill Belichick, angry the NFL won't allow him to negotiate with teams other than the New York Jets, filed an antitrust suit against the league on Monday in federal court.

Belichick, who lost last Friday in an administrative proceeding before NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, asked for a temporary restraining order against the league. It would prohibit the NFL from stopping negotiations between Belichick and any team.

U.S. District Judge John W. Bissell scheduled a hearing for Tuesday.

"The league's directive requiring all clubs to stop dealing with coach Belichick is a classic group boycott," said Belichick's lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, who also has represented NFL, NBA and Major League Soccer players in antitrust cases.

NFL spokesman Joe Browne declined comment.

Bill Parcells quit as Jets coach on Jan. 4, a day after an 8-8 season ended.

Belichick, Parcells' defensive coordinator and handpicked successor, quit the following day, saying Parcells' status and the ownership picture was too confusing. Belichick filed a grievance with the NFL, claiming the team was not allowing him to look for work elsewhere.

The estate of late Jets owner Leon Hess then agreed to sell the team to Robert Johnson IV, who unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Parcells to return as coach.

Tagliabue ruled Belichick is still bound by contract to the Jets for the coming season. The league said he, the Jets and any club seeking to hire Belichick must work out an agreement before Feb. 1.

The New England Patriots, whom Belichick left in 1997 to follow Parcells to New York, had sought permission to talk to Belichick about their coaching position after the Patriots fired Pete Carroll earlier this month.

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