For 30 years, Ben Dreith has gone nose to nose with angry coaches. Now he is angry at the NFL, claiming age discrimination as the reason he was demoted from referee to line judge.

Dreith, at 65 the league's oldest official, said: "They constructed this to make me quit. They set me up. They said, 'He will not take that demotion.' And I'm not going to let them do it."

Dreith, of Englewood, Colo., has officiated more than 500 NFL games in his 30 years with the league, the last 25 years as a referee.

"We have no comment. He has filed suit," NFL spokesman Jim Heffernan said.

Dreith filed a complaint in March with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The complaint stems from officials supervisor Art McNally's decision to demote Dreith after the 1989 season. McNally cited Dreith's low ratings, but noted in a letter to Dreith that age also was a factor. . . .

Former NFL star Mark Gastineau has been given his unconditional release by the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League. A team spokesman said Gastineau, 33, who played 10 seasons as a defensive end with the New York Jets, had been ineffective since joining the team in June.