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NFL WEEK 3 | IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Too Little Froth Spoils the Cooke

September 15, 1997|Houston Mitchell

The new Washington Redskin stadium came to life Sunday at Landover, Md., fulfilling a $180-million dream that the late Redskin owner, the flamboyant and often-cantankerous Jack Kent Cooke, never lived to see.

It was like a family moving to a better neighborhood, but not quite feeling comfortable in their new surroundings and still fondly remembering good times in the old.

Although the Redskins claimed an official sellout because all general admission tickets were sold, many of the more expensive second-tier "club" season-ticket seats have not been sold and were empty for Sunday's opener.

"We haven't sold all the club seats," Redskin spokesman Mike McCall acknowledged. "We'll have them sold by the end of the season."

Official attendance Sunday was 78,270--out of an official seating capacity of 80,116.

Throughout the game, the crowd seemed subdued without the thunder that shook the stands at the smaller, more intimate RFK Stadium, where the Redskins played for three decades.

But quarterback Gus Frerotte's game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to Michael Westbrook brought a roar reminiscent of RFK and allowed the new Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to be christened with a 19-13 victory.

It took only 17 months to build the new stadium, a three-tier, oval structure that is the second-largest stadium in the NFL. It includes 280 luxury boxes, 73 restrooms and the latest in electronic gadgetry, including two giant "jumbotron" scoreboards and 1,000 televisions scattered throughout.

"I like RFK better. It had heart and soul. We would rock the stadium," said Shelley Kinnett of Manassas, Va., who along with her husband, Steve, have season seats high above the end zone in the upper tier of the new stadium.

But Mary Griffith and Geraldine Murphy were happy to be there. Their perch was the last row of the upper deck with a view reminiscent of the shot from a Goodyear blimp.

"When you first walk up, it's kind of creepy, but you couldn't see like this at RFK," Griffith said.

Griffith paid $440 for each of her two last-row season tickets for the season. Club seats a tier below cost $1,400 each per season, and the most expensive luxury boxes run $159,000. Then there's the $10 to $15 parking fee.

"It's a great stadium," said former Redskin quarterback and current broadcaster Sonny Jurgensen. "But it has to be broken in."

WELL, GEE, WARREN

I GUESS YOU'D BE 3-12

At 3-0, Tampa Bay has a good chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 1982. During the last 11 seasons, 49 teams have won their first three games, and 38 of those teams (77.6%) reached the postseason. "It doesn't mean anything," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said of the perfect start. "If we lose the next 12, what are we?"

IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT YOU,

ISN'T IT JERRY?

Jerry Rice, out for the season because of a knee injury, visited the 49er sideline during Sunday's game against New Orleans at San Francisco. He drew a loud standing ovation when he limped back into the locker room on crutches just before halftime. At the time of his departure, the 49ers were inside the five and Steve Young jokingly complained the fans' farewell to Rice made it hard to hear the signals.

"One thing we've got to do is get Jerry to time his exit from the stadium so we can hear the plays," Young said.

ONE PART HAS FUMBLE

BY EARNEST BYNER

Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Lou Groza and Paul Warfield are back starring for the Cleveland Browns--sort of.

The Cleveland Browns Trust, an arm of the NFL that is marketing the next Browns team expected by 1999, commissioned artist Randall McKissick to produce a "wall of memories" portrait featuring great moments in Brown history.

Graham and Groza were original Browns. The team joined the NFL in 1950. Brown and Warfield were part of the last Brown NFL championship team in 1964.

The portrait was reproduced onto a large canvas for display on a building wall downtown. It was displayed permanently for the first time Sunday.

THAT'S THE LAST TIME

HE INVITES HIS MOM

Former Packer cornerback Terrell Buckley, now with the Miami Dolphins, was welcomed back to Lambeau Field in pregame warmups by a large, disparaging banner prominently displayed just below the list of Green Bay's league-best 12 world championships. The banner was removed by security personnel before kickoff.

GEE, EVEN BARNEY FIFE

CARRIED ONE BULLET

Dating to the third quarter of the final game last season, the Colts have gone 13 periods and 194 minutes 17 seconds in the regular season without scoring a touchdown on offense.

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Bay Watch

The surprise of the season so far is the play of the undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who started last season 0-3. A look at the how the two starts match up (all numbers are per game):

1996

Record 0-3

Points 10.7

Opp. points 27.3

Rushing yards 84.7

Passing yards 134.3

Completion percentage 43.6%

Turnovers 4

1997

Record 3-0

Points 21.7

Opp. points 12.3

Rushing yards 159.7

Passing yards 153

Completion percentage 60.0%

Turnovers 1

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