Denying reports he might do otherwise, Raghib "Rocket" Ismail says he'll spend the next four years playing for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
Presumably, that means the Los Angeles Raiders will have to wait until at least 1995 before getting a shot at the speedy 21-year-old wide receiver-kick returner.Ismail issued a statement Thursday in response to a story in the Los Angeles Times which quoted Argonauts owner Bruce McNall as saying he would allow Ismail to play for the Argos and Raiders if approval was granted.
McNall also issued a statement saying that while he wouldn't stand in Ismail's way if the player wanted to play for the Raiders during the next four years, he wasn't contemplating such a move.
"The fact that Mr. McNall has entered into a gentleman's agreement allowing me to entertain other potential opportunities in the future is appreciated," Ismail said in his statement. "But the focus of my attention is to give my very best effort to the many fans of Toronto and the CFL for the next four seasons."
In its Thursday editions, the Times quoted McNall as saying he wouldn't stand in the way if Ismail and Raiders owner Al Davis came to an agreement during the course of Ismail's four-year contract with the Argonauts.
An NFL rule forbids a player under contract with a CFL team from playing in the NFL in the same season. McNall told the Times he knew about the rule, but would not stand in the way if Davis could find a way to modify it.
Ismail, an All-American last season at Notre Dame, signed a four-year contract worth more than $26 million, with $18.2 million guaranteed, with the Argonauts on Saturday night.
One day later, the Raiders picked him in the fourth round of the NFL draft, making him the 100th player selected.
"I am absolutely, in no way, contemplating the thought, nor is it even permissible, for Rocket to play in the NFL following the completion of the CFL season, under the current rule structures," McNall said in his statement.