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NFL SPOTLIGHT / WEEK 10

No Stopping Word War Between Flutie, Johnson

November 06, 2000

Doug or Rob? Rob or Doug?

For Buffalo Bills' players and fans, deciding which quarterback to put their trust behind is a convoluted situation without any real hope of ever reaching a concrete conclusion.

Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson have been teammates in Orchard Park, N.Y., for three seasons now, but their chilly relationship seems ready to freeze over.

Johnson's shoulder injury has thrust Flutie into the starter's job again, a position the two have traded under Coach Wade Phillips throughout their rocky tenure.

But more of Flutie's fourth-quarter (and even overtime) magic found its way into Sunday's story line as he put the Bills in position for a 16-13 road victory at New England. It shouldn't be surprising that Flutie pulled through at Foxboro Stadium. After all, he is 12-1 there, including a 5-0 record when he played for Boston College.

But Flutie wasn't very popular in Johnson's eyes this week after Johnson accused Flutie of making negative comments about him in a Sports Illustrated article.

An unidentified Buffalo player was quoted in the magazine as saying: "There's no question we're a different team with Doug in there. All Doug thinks about is helping the team win and how he can do that. Rob seems distracted by things like wanting everyone to like him."

Then, supposedly a different unidentified player said of Johnson: "He'd rather get pummeled by four guys than throw the ball away" to help his quarterback rating.

On Friday, Johnson was a guest on Jim Rome's nationally syndicated radio show and pointed the finger at Flutie.

"I think everyone who reads the article will pretty much know who it is," Johnson said and later added, ". . . if he was responsible for these comments, I would not consider him a good teammate."

Johnson said he asked Flutie about it and Flutie denied talking to the magazine about anything other than quarterback ratings and said he never mentioned Johnson by name.

The previous war of words between the two came as a result of Buffalo's 22-16 playoff loss at Tennessee, which has become known as the Music City Miracle. Flutie was demoted five days before that game and said it "was the most miserable week I've ever spent in football."

Flutie also said: "I honestly believe that if I would have been playing, we could have, would have, won."

Johnson, who put the Bills in position to win only to have a fluke play beat them, was asked about those comments a week after the loss by Penthouse Magazine, but his interview wasn't printed until six months later.

In part, Johnson said: "I think that [what Flutie said] was more of an insult to the entire team. That's just the type of guy Doug is. He's not much fun to play with--you just have to deal with it."

What the Bills have to deal with is what to do about their quarterback job? Do they keep Flutie as the starter or does Johnson get the nod if he is deemed fit to play this Sunday against Chicago?

If it comes down to winning and making plays, it would be hard to argue against Flutie.

MEANWHILE, IN DETROIT, A SORRY BATCH OF FANS

So we can acknowledge that Charlie Batch hasn't done himself any favors lately to create an allegiance from his hometown fans, but he didn't deserve what was heaped upon him at the Silverdome in a 23-8 loss to Miami.

After completing eight of 16 passes for 95 yards, Batch left the game midway through the third quarter with a concussion as a throng of gleeful fans cheered his departure. This after Batch had been booed early and often.

At least one Lion player, Mike Compton, wasn't about to let the Motor City faithful (or perhaps the word is frightful) get away with it.

"I don't care if it's a Lion or a Dolphin who gets hurt, you don't cheer when a guy is laid out on the field. Not in this building, with what has happened here before," Compton said. "That just shows you the ignorance of some people."

Compton was referring to the career-ending injuries suffered by former Lions Reggie Brown and Mike Utley, both of which were spinal related.

BROWN GLAD HE'S NOT A BROWN ANYMORE

Lomas Brown claims he was sold a bill of goods when the Cleveland Browns wooed him to become a member of their expansion organization.

"We were sold on the San Francisco program coming in there," Brown said in a conference all this week, alluding to Cleveland's Director of Football Operations, Dwight Clark, a former 49er, among others. "That used to be one of the biggest discussions in the locker room every day, how were were sold on the San Francisco program and, when we got there, it was something different."

These days, Brown, now a member of the New York Giants after being released by Cleveland, holds nothing back when discussing his brief past with the Browns, especially his relationship with Coach Chris Palmer.

"Even if you don't like what they [the players] are saying, you have to be willing to listen and at least try to work with them in some way, shape or form," said Brown, claiming Palmer wasn't very open to coach-player discussions on philosophy.

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