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NFL SPOTLIGHT WEEK 14

No Quit in Kennison, but Broncos Might Disagree

December 17, 2001

Eddie Kennison committed the ultimate NFL sin as far as players are concerned when he left the Denver Broncos last month.

He quit on his team.

But Sunday he regained a sense of satisfaction--and a renewed feeling that he did the right thing--in helping lead his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, to a 26-23 overtime victory against Denver.

Kennison's much-publicized split with the Broncos last month--the wide receiver said it was influenced by his wife's complicated pregnancy and his father's heart attack--had a number of former teammates, especially linebacker John Mobley, berating him for the timing.

Sixteen hours before playing the San Diego Chargers last month, Kennison told Denver Coach Mike Shanahan his heart wasn't in the game anymore and that he was planning to retire.

Kennison didn't play against San Diego and Shanahan responded days later by releasing Kennison. The Chiefs signed Kennison two weeks ago.

"I just think that was a cowardly thing to do," Mobley said of Kennison's decision. "If he'd come to us prior to [quitting], it would have been a lot easier for everybody to handle."

Mobley also suggested Kennison wouldn't play Sunday.

"I don't think he'll suit up against us because I know him," Mobley said. "He won't want to get out there and play against us--not our defense.

"He'll find an excuse now or later in the week. We don't think Eddie's going to play. We know Eddie's mentality."

Mobley even called Kennison "Benedict Arnold" and suggested the Broncos might be looking for some retribution on the field, a revelation the NFL took seriously enough to warn Mobley and the Broncos that they would be watched closely.

Nothing happened during the game, but Kennison was instrumental in two Chief scoring drives.

He caught two passes on a drive that resulted in Todd Peterson's 51-yard field goal, then gained 14 yards on an end-around just before Trent Green's 24-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Alexander put the Chiefs ahead, 20-10, in the third.

"Just straight, hard football," said Kennison in describing the action he faced. "I'm sure Coach Shanahan told them not to say anything. The league was watching."

And Mobley, who had so much to say about Kennison during the week, offered this afterward: "Damn Eddie Kennison. I'm not talking about Eddie Kennison."

Patriot Games

The surprise of the season continues to be the New England Patriots, despite having been tagged by some as "The Kings of Weird."

A rash of injuries, a potential quarterback controversy and receiver Terry Glenn's constant run-ins with trouble have not distracted the Patriots.

"I think the credit really goes to the players," Coach Bill Belichick said. "They haven't looked at things that are distractions. They've looked at trying to control what they can control. What they can control is getting ready for each game."

That's typical coachspeak, but the raw numbers do say the Patriots are 9-5 with an offense that ranks 21st in yards gained and a defense ranked 24th in yards allowed.

Even linebacker Tedy Bruschi is at a loss to explain the resiliency of the defense and the team.

"I have no clue," Bruschi said when asked for a reason. "No clue."

A Cold December

December has been an unkind month for the New York Jets and the team even needed a fourth-quarter rally to defeat Cincinnati, 15-14, on Sunday.

Bengal linebacker Takeo Spikes had some advice coming into the game for Jet players and other teams playing Cincinnati and hoping to make the playoffs.

"That's the way you're supposed to think but, hey, don't sleep on us," said Spikes, who warned the Jets to not look ahead. "If you sleep, you're going to be dreaming with us come January, watching the playoff games on the weekend with us.

"So for everyone who is chalking it up to a win when they play us, go ahead and sleep on us. We can sit home together and look at it.

"Misery loves company."

The Jets woke up just in time.

Scheduling Trouble

Speaking of late-season collapses, don't be surprised if the Dolphins fall into a swoon over Miami.

The groundwork was in place before the Dolphins lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 21-0, at Candlestick Point.

Sunday's game fell in the middle of two short weeks for the Dolphins, after last Monday night's victory over Indianapolis and this Saturday's meeting with New England--or three games in 13 days.

Coach Dave Wannstedt bemoaned the schedule as soon as it was announced.

"If a lot of thought was put into that scheduling, I'd like to sit down and talk to the computer that did it, because it's really not fair," Wannstedt said. "It's going to be awful tough on our players."

On a positive note, the Dolphins do close the season at home against Atlanta and Buffalo.

Really Catching On

With Troy Edwards and Plaxico Burress on the roster, no one figured it would be Hines Ward emerging as the Pittsburgh Steelers' star receiver.

Heading into Sunday's game against Baltimore, Ward had 79 catches in 12 games, needing seven more to break Yancey Thigpen's team record of 85.

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