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MIKE PENNER

This Crazy Old Football League I Like to Call My Own

October 09, 1994|MIKE PENNER

T his week in the NFL . . .

GREEN BAY, Wis.--Young Rams Tommy Maddox, D'Marco Farr and Wayne Gandy are disappointed to no end when they arrive at Lambeau Field and see no stage, no speakers, no guitar stands and no drum kit. "Green Bay?" Farr says incredulously. "I thought we were going to see Green Day." Gandy, visibly shaken, lowers slowly into a crouch. "You mean no backstage passes?" he asks. "I'm not supposed to throw any passes at all," Maddox says. "I can't believe it," Farr mutters. "Green Day rules. 'Dookie' really speaks to me, know what I mean?" Trying to buck up his disconsolate teammates, Wisconsin native Chuck Belin brightly notes, "The Packer marching band is really quite something to see" and is immediately pummeled with dirt clods.

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SAN DIEGO--The Chargers come in 4-0, the only undefeated team in the NFL. The Chiefs come in 3-1, having been shut out by the Rams at home in their most recent game. Stan Humphries is the highest rated quarterback in the AFC, almost 20 points higher than Joe Montana. The Chargers have a play-by-play announcer who not only calls 99-yard touchdown passes but predicts them as well. Carl Sagan and Leonard Nimoy both dispatch film crews to Jack Murphy Stadium.

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FOXBORO, Mass.--Raider search party finally reaches New England. "Leonard Russell here?" Raiders ask. "Nope, he went that-a-way," locals say, pointing to Denver. Raiders shrug, decide to stick around for four quarters, swap Harvey Williams for a case of live lobsters at Logan Airport.

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IRVING, Tex.--"Nobody runs on us," Buddy Ryan crowed after his Arizona Cardinals stopped Minnesota's awesome ground machine last week, 17-7, to improve their 1994 record to 1-3. "Not even Emmitt Smith." Buddy was looking ahead to today's game against Dallas, and technically, he's right. Smith has a sore hamstring, so he won't be able to run on the Cardinals. He will, however, limp, hobble, lurch and crawl for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Maybe walk in another.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.--Twenty-five years after Super Bowl III, a game that put Johnny Unitas on the same football field with Joe Namath, the Jets and the Colts commemorate the event by starting Jack Trudeau against Jim Harbaugh. "I'll wear a helmet, I guarantee it," Trudeau boldly predicts.

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SEATTLE--Before their game with the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos announce that wide receiver Mike Pritchard will be lost for the rest of the season because of a lacerated kidney, joining John Elway and his lacerated aura.

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.--Cleveland Gary takes over at tailback for the Dolphins as they take on division archrival Buffalo. Gary now gets to play alongside Dan Marino, gets to play for a Super Bowl contender and stands to get $500,000 if he meets the easily attainable incentive clauses built into his new contract. The Rams, meanwhile, get nothing, having cut their former first-round draft choice before the season opener. Says Gary: "And they called me the fumbler."

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PONTIAC, Mich.--Struggling San Francisco plays Detroit today, and a Bay Area opinion poll shows 85% of the respondents are in favor of canning 49er head Coach George Seifert. Poll, however, did not divulge results of the follow-up question: "So, would you rather have Wayne Fontes instead?"

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ATLANTA--Tampa Bay travels to Atlanta with Vernon Turner showing off his Ex-Ram of the Week plaque on the Buccaneer team plane. Turner wrested the award away from three-time winner Henry Ellard by becoming the first man in Buccaneer history to return a punt for a touchdown. Ram officials were stunned by the news, remembering Turner as kick returner who specialized in touchbacks and muffed punts but never touchdowns. Trent Dilfer-Wayne Gandy update: Rams, who needed Dilfer last Sunday after Chris Chandler went down with a wrenched ankle, looked around, couldn't find Dilfer, had to go with Tommy Maddox instead. Gandy produced as many touchdowns on tackle-eligible play as rest of Ram offense.

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PHILADELPHIA--The Philadelphia Eagles play host to the Washington Redskins one week after beating the 49ers by 32 points in San Francisco, running Steve Young off the field, shutting down Jerry Rice, uncovering a star rookie running back in Charlie Garner, moving into a first-place tie in the NFC East and Buddy Ryan doesn't want to hear another word about it.

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CHICAGO--Huge grudge match at Soldier Field today as Chicago hosts New Orleans and Bears quarterback Steve Walsh starts against his old teammates. All of Chicago is abuzz as the Bulls open training camp.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.--Despite a steady stream of so-so matchups such as this one--Vikings at Giants--Monday Night Football ratings continue to skyrocket. Nielsen research indicates that this is due to an inordinate number of professional baseball and hockey players lying around the house with nothing else to do.

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