A spokesperson for AA said what actually happened was that a ground worker accidentally pulled the lever that deploys the tail cone emergency slide.
There were no injuries when the accidental deployment took place, but the plane was removed from service for the evening.
The tailcone is designed to come off in the event of an emergency. Once open, a slide deploys and allows passengers and crew a rear exit from the plane.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner told the paper that the company had no record that he could find of an MD-80 accidentally deploying its rear emergency slide.