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THE INSIDE TRACK | THE HOT CORNER

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

November 09, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: www.RealTeam.com

So many Web sites, so little time. But if you're an NFL fan, this one is pretty good. For one thing, it's got credibility. There's a regular column from Dick Vermeil and predictions from statistical guru Bud Goode.

The main contributor is site founder Terry O'Neil, 51, a former executive producer of sports at CBS and NBC who started in television at ABC. During his days at NBC, he became close to Mike Ditka, who brought him to the New Orleans Saints to clean up a bookkeeping mess. When O'Neil joined the Saints in March 1997 as a consultant, the 3-13 team had only $11,000 remaining under its salary cap. When he left after Ditka was fired in January, the team was $17 million under the cap.

So O'Neil knows something about how the NFL works. And he writes like a pro. He was the sports editor of the Observer, the school newspaper at Notre Dame, which is known for producing quality sports journalists. O'Neil, early in his career, could have gone to work for Sports Illustrated.

O'Neil knows something about predicting upsets too. In an open letter to Kansas City Coach Gunther Cunningham a few weeks ago, he spelled out how the Chiefs could upset the St. Louis Rams, and they did. "It's obvious the message was delivered," O'Neil noted afterward.

Early in the season, when it appeared that the signing of Keyshawn Johnson by Tampa Bay was a good thing, O'Neil reported that the New York Jets had actually attempted to trade Johnson in March 1998, and then he laid out a way the Jets could have kept him for $77,000.

Other contributors to the site are Chris Mara, player personnel analyst for several teams; Zavan Yaralin, defensive coordinator of the Saints last season; and former Saint and Steeler special teams coach Bobby April.

Another unique NFL Web site is www.myraiders.net, which, besides offering information on the Raiders, is also the NFL's only site that offers full Internet service.

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