Charger nose tackle Joe Phillips has received medical clearance to return to practice, but because of a salary dispute, has stayed away from San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium since late last week.
“I was ready for Joe to practice. I’m ready to practice him when the doctors and Joe think that is the thing to do,” Coach Dan Henning said. “And it was my understanding that both those parties agreed to that. What’s the holdup? It has something to do with money.”
Phillips was the team’s starting nose tackle in the first three games, but suffered a beating outside a Mission Bay restaurant on Sept. 26th.
General Manager Bobby Beathard said Phillips received full payment for seven games, although the club was not obligated to pay him beyond the fourth game.
“I’ve checked around the league and a lot of teams are not paying players on the reserve/non-football injury list at all,” Beathard said. “In Washington it was our policy to pay 50 percent, although we gave Kelvin Bryant only one-third of his salary because he was making so much.
“At the time Joe was hurt, I told him we would pay him. But then it came time where we examined the situation and decided to take another look. There were other things involved that I can’t go into.
“We wanted Joe to come back to practice, and if ready to go, he could be activated for the last three games and receive three more paychecks. Right now we’re still discussing everything with his lawyers and we’re trying to find a way to get him on the field.”
Phillips has received more than $150,000 from the club to date for this season, but is apparently unwilling to start practicing until he receives full pay for the past 13 weeks.
Phillips could not be reached for comment.
After recovering from a fractured eye orbit that required extensive surgery, Phillips had rejoined the Chargers and had begun lifting weights. However, club officials said he stopped appearing for workouts at the stadium late last week.
“I spoke to Joe (Monday),” Henning said. “I told him I think that it needs to be resolved, and he said he’s trying. And I’ve talked to our people and they’re trying.”
Representives for Phillips were to be in contact with Beathard Tuesday night, but Henning said he doesn’t think a settlement between parties is imminent.
Defensive line coach Gunther Cunningham, who moved to the United States from Munich, Germany at the age of 12, has been approached by the World Football League as a head-coaching candidate for the league’s Frankfurt franchise.
“I’m flattered they would consider me,” Cunningham said. “I’ve talked to them and they’re very interested. They would like me to go there, but we’re in the middle of something here and I told them I would talk later.”
The WFL is expected to begin play in March, and league officials said it has been searching for coaches who have the ability to speak foreign languages.
“If I had to, I could speak German,” Cunningham said. “I’m interested, but I can only focus on one thing at a time, and right now that’s to beat Denver.”