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PRO FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT

More Flags Than The United Nations

September 30, 1996

When Rich Brooks was at Oregon, his teams usually were among the least-penalized in the Pacific 10 Conference.

So it's understandable he's upset that his St. Louis Rams have been flagged more than any other NFL team after their first four games.

"I have never coached a team in my life that's had as many penalties as this team," Brooks said. "I'm very frustrated. I'm just going to take a lot harder line on it, I have to."

After four games, the Rams are averaging 11.3 penalties, well ahead of runner-up Atlanta at 9.7. They're fourth in average penalty yardage at 74.7 yards and have more penalty yards (284) than rushing yards (278).

Last year was much the same with 10 penalties against Indianapolis, 13 against Buffalo and nine against Washington--all losses. Overall they were whistled for 117 infractions for 916 yards, 30 more penalties than the opposition and 235 more yards.

Many of the penalties were for jumping offsides, and Brooks was unhappy that six of the eight calls Sunday in the game against Arizona were against players with three or more years of experience.

Defensive tackle D'Marco Farr was a prime offender with three offsides calls, and Brooks threatened to bench him and go with rookie Chuck Osborne if that continues.

"Basically, if D'Marco Farr continues to jump offsides, then he's not going to be out there," Brooks said. "These are not rookie mistakes, they are not very intelligent mistakes, they are stupid mistakes."

'COACH, WOULD YOU START MY CAR FOR ME?'

It started as a bad week for Jaguar linebacker Brant Boyer. Then it became a nightmare. Then, once again, the dream came alive, tantalizing Boyer with its beauty. But the carrot was pulled away at the last minute.

It was worthy of an Oliver Stone movie. Or Alfred Hitchcock.

Waived in the final round of cuts, Boyer was re-signed again Wednesday, then released on Thursday and signed again on Friday. After hurriedly learning plays, Boyer took his place on the special team unit Sunday against Carolina. The dream was right there.

Then the game started. In Boyer's only action, he missed an open-field tackle on Winslow Oliver's 22-yard punt return.

The Jaguars released Boyer after the game. The dream is over. The world awaits.

CAN ANYBODY SPARE A BUTTERFINGER?

After catching his first NFL touchdown pass, Chicago running back Rashaan Salaam tried to fire the ball into the stands at Oakland but lost his grip and the ball fluttered meekly to the ground instead.

Salaam said he was trying to throw the ball at Raider fans who had been riding him about his recent fumbling problems.

Hey, way to get back at them Rashaan.

THE GUY CRUMPLED INSIDE THE FIVE

Steeler punter Shayne Edge, playing in his first NFL game, was ejected for fighting, and his $5,000 fine was nearly half his $10,937 game salary.

Edge signed with Pittsburgh last week after punter Josh Miller was sidelined because of a hernia.

The Steelers are thinking of calling Sugar Ray Leonard and trying him out at punter, since he was a fighter with fancy footwork.

AND HE GETS IN CHEAP AS A SENIOR CITIZEN

Dave Krieg, who turns 38 in three weeks, was the target of a lot of jokes based on his age after the Bears picked him to start at quarterback for Erik Kramer.

After Chicago's 19-17 victory over Oakland, Krieg is 12-8 as a starter against the Raiders. He's 5-0 as a starter against Green Bay, the Bears' opponent next week.

ALL THAT APPLAUSE IS HURTING OUR EARS

The biggest cheers during the Chief-Charger game came when the Padres won the National League West title with a 2-0 victory over the Dodgers. Kicker John Carney said the public address announcer picked a bad time to mention that Chris Gwynn had hit a two-run double. That came with 8:27 left, the Chargers on offense. "We had a hard time checking off at the line with the audibles," Carney said. Said defensive end Chris Mims: "I just pretended they were cheering for me."

SQUAD 51, SQUAD 51, PLAYER DOWN

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