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SPORTS WEEKEND | AROUND THE NFC / WEST

Panther Owner Goes On the Prowl

September 25, 1998

The Carolina Panthers aren't very good, which is a problem, because owner Jerry Richardson spent almost $30 million on free agents in the off-season. The Panthers have lost to the Falcons and the Saints, so what happens when they play a real football team? An irate Richardson called a surprise team meeting and ripped into his players.

"This is a must-win situation for us," linebacker Jeff Brady said of Sunday's game against Green Bay. "If you don't think it is, you're crazy."

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The 49ers need only one more victory to have 100 for the decade--the only team that can say that--but consider this oddity: San Francisco has just signed its seventh punter of the '90s and has gone through six kickers. Continuity in the kicking game, it would appear, is not essential to winning consistently.

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The Rams gave Lawrence Phillips every chance to succeed, but Coach Dick Vermeil has done everything he can to keep rookie Robert Holcombe under wraps. Holcombe, drafted in the second round to take Phillips' spot, spent the first three games on the team's inactive list, but this week he will not only wear a uniform, but start against Arizona.

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