McNall Gives Rocket OK to Talk With the Raiders : Pro football: Agent will explore possibility of Ismail leaving Toronto Argonauts.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Raghib (Rocket) Ismail, his days in the Canadian Football League seemingly numbered, has received permission from owner Bruce McNall of the Toronto Argonauts to talk to the Raiders.

Bob Woolf, Ismail's attorney, said he hopes to begin "exploratory" talks soon with the Raiders, who made Ismail a fourth-round draft choice in 1991.

"We want to explore what (Ismail's) possibilities would be in the United States," Woolf said. "We will then report back to Bruce McNall so he can make a better evaluation."

Ismail, a receiver and return specialist from Notre Dame, turned his back on the NFL two years ago and signed an $18-million contract to play for the Argonauts. Of that amount, $14 million was tied to a four-year personal-services contract with McNall.

Recently, the Argonaut owner has made no secret of his disappointment over Ismail's performance off the field. Ismail has reportedly failed to live up to his commitments to promote both the Argonauts and the CFL.

Technically, Ismail is no longer an Argonaut. His player's contract has expired. But he does have two years remaining on his personal-services deal with McNall and still has money coming from his signing bonus.

"We are ready and willing to go to Toronto," Woolf said.

But all signs from Toronto indicate that McNall is more than willing to get out of the remaining years of the contract and send Ismail to the Raiders.

As of Tuesday night, however, there had been no contact between Woolf and the Raiders.

"We haven't been informed that (Ismail) is free of contractual obligations," said Steve Ortmayer, Raider director of football operations.

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