Rev. Jackson calls T.O. punishment 'much too severe'

PHILADELPHIA -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson called the Philadelphia Eagles' punishment of Terrell Owens "much too severe."

Jackson said in a statement released Friday that Owens could
have been more professional when he publicly complained about his
contract, his team and the Eagles' organization.

But Jackson said Owens' suspension without pay for four games
and deactivation for the rest of the season is "much too severe
for the charge" and hurts the athlete's NFL career at its height.

The civil rights activist said the level of punishment could
have been warranted if Owens had been caught shaving points,
selling drugs, carrying a gun or fighting fans without sufficient

"This does not warrant a one-year ban from the game," Jackson
said, adding that the Eagles should release Owens to the open
market or free agency if they no longer want to associate with him.

Ralph Nader, a consumer activist and former presidential
candidate, has already called for the suspension to be rescinded.

Owens was suspended last week after he said in an interview that
the Eagles showed "a lack of class" for not publicly recognizing
his 100th career touchdown catch, and that the team would be better
off with Green Bay's Brett Favre as quarterback. He has since

Owens' Friday appeal hearing of his four-game suspension will take place at the Eagles' practice facility, ESPN has confirmed. This will allow Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb, and possibly other Eagles employees to testify more easily.

The grievance hearing will be run by arbitrator Richard Bloch.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.