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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 7 PRIMER : Around the NFC / WEST

Tell It Like It Is: Money Matters the Most

October 23, 1998

Do the Broncos recall their 1996 postseason loss to Jacksonville? Do football players think about only money? Yes. Yes.

"Heck, yeah, I remember that," said Bronco wide receiver Rod Smith. "I'm still [ticked]. They cost me 30 grand. Because if we beat them, we go to the next round of the playoffs and that's $30,000 [in playoff bonuses], right there. Think about that. People kill each other over $30,000."

The Broncos were two-touchdown favorites before losing to Jacksonville, and while they gained their revenge last year to open the playoffs, the team faces a bigger challenge with Jaguar overtones in a Nov. 3 referendum to get the money to build a new stadium. If the vote goes against the Broncos, owner Pat Bowlen has indicated the Broncos probably won't be able to remain in Denver. A loss to Jacksonville is being seen as a vote killer.

Charger interim Coach June Jones is 1-0. History says he will not remain perfect. In the past 10 years there have been nine interim coaches who have combined for a 19-46 record.

Remember Chester McGlockton? The former Raider, who joined the Chiefs this season only to be deemed physically unable to perform, has been practicing and would be eligible to play Monday night against the Steelers.

Wait until they play the Raiders. Former Raider tackle Carleton Oats thinks Oakland has improved because the team got rid of McGlockton. "They got rid of the cancer that was holding them back--Chester, who was playing only one out of every six to eight plays," Oats said. "He was holding the young guys down. Now they're disconnecting from blockers, pursuing the ball, making tackles."

CENTRAL / The Options, Kordell: Good, Better, Bettis

The only quarterback with a lower pass rating than Pittsburgh's Kordell Stewart is San Diego's Ryan Leaf. Stewart has thrown only three touchdown passes with seven interceptions after an NFL start that looked as if he would be the game's most dangerous performer.

"He's a second-year quarterback," Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher said. "We've experienced some inconsistencies. That's a part of the growing process. The young man has handled it very well."

Translation: Hand the ball to Jerome Bettis. More and more.

The Ravens have opted to self-destruct just like the Redskins, showing panic and indecisiveness in regards to the quarterback position. Eric Zeier has a bad thumb on his throwing hand, but he gets the start over Jim Harbaugh, who was ineffective in relief of an ineffective Zeier.

The Bengals' woes continue, and now Coach Bruce Coslet has to deal with things like helicopters flying above the team's practice facility with a trailing banner, "Bob says fire Coslet." No clue who Bob is, but asked about it, Coslet said, "Next question." OK, so why can't the Bengals win? "It's [the guys] right here in this locker room not getting it done," center Darrick Brilz said. Start up that helicopter and change that sign: "Bob says fire the whole bunch."

EAST / Johnson Pleads His Case, Ignorance No Defense

Bill quarterback Rob Johnson will be out longer with mending rib cartilage, allowing Doug Flutie to keep selling Flutie Flakes--a cereal. Johnson said it could be another two or three weeks before he plays, as if anyone in Buffalo is in a hurry to have him back. "I know Doug's captured the imagination of the area," said Johnson, feeling a little left out, "but I've done nothing wrong."

Last season the Patriots defeated the Dolphins three times in a span of 38 days, thereby ending Miami's season. They meet again Sunday. In those three losses, Miami quarterback Dan Marino threw for one touchdown with six interceptions--three of which were returned for touchdowns.

Vinny Testaverde is 3-0 as the Jets' starter with nine touchdowns and one interception. Testaverde earns an additional $1.2 million if he plays at least 45% of the team's offensive plays. The Jets' other choice: play Glenn Foley. They'll pay Testaverde.

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