Springs out 4 games for violating NFL's steroid policy

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shawn Springs has been suspended four games for
a violation of the NFL Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances,
a league spokesman confirmed Tuesday night for ESPN.com.

Springs, 26, will miss this Sunday's home game against San Diego and then
games at Denver (Dec. 9), against Dallas (Dec. 16) and at the New York
Giants (Dec. 23). He will be eligible to return to the eligible roster on
Dec. 24, meaning he could play in the final two games of the season.

The five-year veteran will be docked four game checks, or about $355,555,
based on his 2001 base salary of $1.6 million. During the term of the
suspension, Springs cannot work out at the Seahawks facility or be in
contact with team officials.

Unlike the league's substance abuse policy, commissioner P:aul Tagliabue can
suspend a player for his first violation of the steroid guidelines.

A first-round pick in the 1997 draft, and the third player selected overall,
Springs missed the first month of this campaign rehabilitating from a severe
hamstring injury suffered in the preseason. There was speculation Tuesday
night that Springs may have turned to the steroids to help recover from the
hamstring injury.

League confidentiality guidelines prohibit NFL or team officials from
commenting on the suspension in specifics or on the timing of the positive
test. But a source close to Springs said he was "shocked" by the suspension.

Neither the star cornerback nor his agent, Eugene Parker, could be reached
for reaction and team officials had no immediate comment.

Springs has been a starter since his rookie season. He has played in 65
games and started 64 of them, and has 292 tackles, 16 interceptions and 60
passes defensed. He was named to the Pro Bowl team for the 1998 season.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.