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Last Article Written: November 22, 1999

King, Wooten Slapped With Five Game Suspensions
Violation of Drug Policy May Be a Factor

By Mike Devitt

Look for the word "recidivism" in any college dictionary, and you're bound to find a definition that reads something like the following: "Noun. To fall back. The habitual or chronic relapse, or tendency to relapse, especially into crime or antisocial behavior."

Before long, Shawn King's picture might be used in place of those words.

On Monday, King and fellow teammate Tito Wooten were each suspended for five games by the Indianapolis Colts for what the team called "frequent and flagrant" violations of its attendance policy over the past few weeks.

The actions marked the third time this season the Colts have suspended a player due to rules violations. Linebacker Andre Royal was suspended one game in October -- his second suspension in less than a year --and released the following week for repeated violations of team rules.

Head coach Jim Mora was hesitant to elaborate on what Wooten and King had done to justify a five-game suspension. "I'm not going to comment on it anymore," Mora said after the announcement had been made. "As far as I'm concerned, they're out of here for four weeks, maybe longer. Who knows? I don't worry about it anymore.

"They break rules, they pay the price. It's that simple."

Unfortunately for King, it may not be as simple as Mora says. According to reports from the San Diego sports radio station XTRA, King may have been suspended not just for being late to meetings, but for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy as well.

King, who was signed to a three-year, $6 million dollar contract by the Colts in February, has done his fair share of rule-bending over the years. In 1996, just before the Carolina Panthers' first-ever playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, he was suspended by the Panthers and then-general manager Bill Polian for the entire postseason for what the team called "poor attendance at meetings."

The following year, King was suspended for the first six games of the 1997 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. It was subsequently revealed that King failed three drug tests for marijuana, and the NFL had intended on suspending him for one year.

But King appealed the ruling, saying that because two of the tests were conducted within two weeks of each other, they could have produced falsely positive results. Medical experts say marijuana can stay in a person's bloodstream for up to a month. King won the appeal, and his year-long suspension was reduced to just six games.

"You make mistakes and, hopefully, people will forgive you," King said about the incident in 1997. "If they don't, you can't worry about it. You've just got to move on."

The Colts already appear to be moving on. On Monday, they resigned defensive back Eric Smedley, who had seen limited action earlier this season, to take Wooten's spot on the roster. They have yet to name a replacement for King, however.

Wooten and King have known each other for more than half a decade. The two were teammates at Northeast Louisiana during the 1993 season and have remained close personal friends ever since.

As far as the Colts are concerned, though, the suspensions aren't personal. They're part of the business.

"They're both good football players and have played well for us, but when things like this happen you have to handle it like we have and you go on," Mora said. "They severely violated team rules and they're paying the price. End of story."

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Mike Devitt is a columnist for AllSports. He can be reached by e-mail at

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