Two $1,122 cashier checks, one from a 68-year-old retired butcher, were sent to the National Football League Players Association yesterday, meaning, at least according to the San Diego Chargers, that quarterback Dan Fouts is no longer faced with the threat of suspension.
Earlier this week, the players union ordered the Chargers to suspend Fouts for failing to pay his 1981 union dues, which amounted to $1,122. Charger owner Gene Klein said he would defy the directive, calling the NFLPA action "attempted blackmail."
Asked if the checks would resolve the controversy, Dick Berthelson, NFLPA counsel, said: "It is our view that it's the player's obligation, but this is the first time the matter has come up."
Rick Smith, a Charger spokesman, said one check, from an anonymous donor, was presented to offensive lineman Doug Wilkerson following a team workout yesterday. Smith reported that Wilkerson, a player representative, then said the issue is closed.
Earlier in the day, Norbert Stein, a former butcher, airmailed a check to the NFLPA to cover Fouts' delinquent dues.
Smith said that Fouts, who opposes the players' union because he disagrees with the collective-bargaining agreement of 1977, is free to play in Monday night's final game of the season.
Meanwhile, the status of Fouts, listed by the club as "questionable" Wednesday with a severe hip pointer, has been upgraded to "probable," Smith said. Fouts was taken to a San Diego hospital Tuesday night when his hip problem worsened.
He reported to practice yesterday, however. "He'll be ready to play," said Smith.