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Today's Top Story: HelicopterGate

January 20, 1998|T.J. SIMERS

Lacking the authorization to shoot it out of the sky, NFL officials asked a local San Diego TV station to ground its helicopter and stop filming the Denver Broncos' practice.

HelicopterGate sent the media into a frenzy Monday since there was nothing else to write about. Reporters stormed Denver Coach Mike Shanahan to find out if the Broncos' chances had slipped from slim to none as the result of KFMB-TV, Channel 8's shocking behavior.

"That was inappropriate," said Shanahan, who told the NFL's lone pool reporter at practice, "they were up there 23 minutes."

It does not bode well for Denver if Shanahan had his head in the clouds for 23 minutes.

"We contacted the TV station and told them why our practice is private," Shanahan said. "We asked them not to show any tape they had shot and they agreed to destroy the tapes."

Insiders say the tape was quite revealing--showing John Elway throwing passes to some of his wide receivers, and Denver's defense unable to stop the run.

Green Bay Coach Mike Holmgren opened his afternoon press session by joking: "Flying in that helicopter was fun."

The Broncos, however, see no humor in HelicopterGate. They have already tightened security at their Hyatt Regency headquarters in La Jolla.

"The security is unbelievable," Denver fullback Howard Griffith said. "I thought the President was here. It's real safe around here."

The Broncos used the Charger practice fields for their practice, and covered the hillside surrounding the area with security personnel dressed in bright yellow jackets--from a distance making them look like Cheeseheads.

"We knew there were places where it would be easy for someone to watch our practices from near here," Shanahan said, "but we have enough security and there weren't any problems." Or prisoners taken.

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