OMAHA, DEC. 10 -- The owner of the River City Raiders is folding the semiprofessional football team, in part because of what he said was widespread marijuana use by players, who dispute his claim.
"All of a sudden, the whole team is a bunch of drug addicts, and that's not right," defensive back Wayne Hicks said.
Owner Gordie Zealand, whose team compiled a 12-2 record in its first season, said he was shutting down the team because of poor attendance, insubordination and "uncontrollable" marijuana smoking by as many as 30 of the team's 45 players.
"I've advised my players that the River City Raiders are no longer in operation for 1988," Zealand said. "They pretty much understood why I did it.
Zealand said he decided to fold the team after the Raiders lost, 24-9, to the San Jose Bandits in the national semifinals last weekend.
"I feel sorry for the small percentage of people who dedicated themselves 100 percent to the Raiders. But I can't associate myself with this type of program," Zealand said. "I believe in deterring drugs as much as I can. If that's overreacting, so be it. It's against the law."
Linebacker Jon Hayes, the team's leading tackler, said Zealand greatly exaggerated the number of players flaunting the rules. "We had three or four bad apples," Hayes said. "To say it was any more is a personal insult to the rest of us . . . He just didn't know how to handle it. He treated us like kids."