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Lawsuit seeks compensation for Super Bowl loss

NEW ORLEANS -- A former St. Louis Rams player and three fans sued the New England Patriots today over allegations that the Patriots cheated in the 2002 Super Bowl by taping a Rams practice before the game.

Former Rams player Willie Gary and other plaintiffs are seeking millions in damages in their federal lawsuit, filed in New Orleans.

The Patriots beat the Rams, 20-17, on a last-second field goal in the 2002 Super Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Before the game, former Patriots employee Matt Walsh allegedly taped a walkthrough practice by the Rams. Walsh told The Associated Press last week during the Pro Bowl in Hawaii that he couldn't comment on the allegations.

The lawsuit accuses the Patriots of fraud, unfair trade practices and engaging in a "pattern of racketeering."

The plaintiffs' attorneys are asking a judge to certify the case as a class action on behalf of anyone who purchased a Super Bowl ticket or attended the game, all Rams employees on the 2002 team and any owner of a Rams seat license for the 2001-2002 season.

Hugh Campbell, a Cincinnati-based lawyer who filed the suit, says the loss cost Rams players much more than Super Bowl rings and bonuses. He says, quoting here, "More importantly, their careers would have been advanced if they were winners instead of losers."

Spokesmen for the Patriots and Rams both declined to comment on the suit.

Gary, a defensive back who played at Kentucky, was signed by the Rams as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2001. He was released in September 2002 and he played in NFL Europe that season. In 2003, he joined the Arena League Georgia Force.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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