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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Tom Cousineau said Monday 'there...

ROCKLIN, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers linebacker Tom Cousineau said Monday 'there was no doubt' he was dropped by the Cleveland Browns before the 1986 season because of recurring but false rumors that he was homosexual.

'Homosexuality has no place in my life, never has and never will,' said the former All-Pro linebacker, who is engaged to an Ohio University student, at the 49ers' training camp.

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In a front-page story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday, Cousineau denied 2-year-old rumors he was a homosexual, saying homosexuality 'repulses' him.

He said at an informal news conference Monday he agreed to discuss the rumors with the newspaper because 'I got to the point where I had to take a shot and trust somebody. You guys (the media) can sit here by implication and turn me into a (homosexual), which is a very scary thing for me.

'Should I have come forward earlier? No question about it. I heard the rumors the first time two years ago but I felt I had nothing to worry about.

'But then the Cleveland Browns started to investigate me. They spent a lot of time, used a lot of gas, incurred a lot of bills.'

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Browns owner Art Modell said Monday night from his home in Waite, Ohio: 'We released Tom for competitive reasons. In fact, two reasons - (linebackers) Anthony Griggs and Mike Johnson. And by that, I mean no offense to Tom Cousineau, because he gave the Browns a 100 percent effort.'

Cousineau said he believed two former Cleveland teammates had furthered the rumors by not denying them and that the rumors may have started due to jealousy over his salary and 'attention' he received.

Cousineau said he decided to confront the rumors because 'I felt with the opportunity to become a starter this year, and to become more prominent, that perhaps the seed (of the rumor) could take off. I had ignored it in Cleveland and it got out of hand.'

He said there was 'no doubt' the rumors, which he also termed 'ludicrous,' not only hampered his play last year but eventually led to his being waived by the Browns before the start of the 1986 season.

'The NFL is a very small fraternity,' he said. 'Right or wrong, I hope the mentality out here is a little more sophisticated.'

San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh, who quickly picked up Cousineau on waivers only to see him sit out the season with a pulled hamstring, said he had known nothing about the homosexuality rumors.

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Cousineau -- who is engaged to Lisa Johnson, a medical student at Ohio -- played four seasons with the Browns. He had been chosen by Buffalo with the top pick of the 1979 NFL draft but chose to sign with Montreal of the Canadian Football League, where he played from 1979-81. Buffalo traded his rights to Cleveland in 1982.

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