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PLAYOFF NOTES

Official Taken Off Super Bowl Crew

January 10, 2003|Lance Pugmire | From Staff and Wire Reports

George Hayward, an NFL head linesman who worked the San Francisco 49er-New York Giant NFC playoff game Sunday, has been informed his scheduled assignment in the Super Bowl has been revoked, an NFL referee source said Thursday.

The source said the decision to remove Hayward from the Super Bowl was made by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. The Super Bowl would have been Hayward's first. He was the only member among the 49er-Giant crew scheduled to officiate in the Super Bowl.

NFL representatives were not immediately available Thursday night to comment.

Hayward was one of three officials who threw a flag against the Giants indicating an illegal man downfield during the final play of their 39-38 loss in San Francisco. Hayward was positioned on the line of scrimmage, closer to the Giant sideline.

The game's final play, a botched 41-yard field-goal attempt that ended with an incomplete pass, has become one of the most controversial plays in league history.

Mike Pereira, the NFL's director of officiating, announced Monday that game officials should have called pass interference on 49er defensive end Chike Okeafor for tugging on the jersey of intended Giant receiver Rich Seubert.

Seubert, an offensive guard, lined up as an eligible receiver on the play, but officials threw flags indicating Seubert and left guard Tam Hopkins were ineligible. Pereira said the correct call should have been offsetting penalties, which would have given kicker Matt Bryant another chance to make a game-winning field goal.

Tagliabue announced Wednesday he has ordered all field officials to huddle for discussions regarding disputed calls.

The referee source said Pereira attempted to convince Tagliabue that Hayward should remain on the Super Bowl crew because the call was not his primary responsibility -- back judge Scott Green was most responsible.

"But the commissioner said because of the enormity of the call -- the [New York-based] league is getting bombarded by criticism in New York -- that Hayward's out," the source said. "It's too bad. You work 16 games [as an official] to get a No. 1 rating at your position. Then because of one call in a playoff game, you're out of the Super Bowl."

-- Lance Pugmire

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San Francisco's Terrell Owens and the Giants' Shaun Williams and Omar Stoutmire were fined for their actions during the final minute of their game.

Owens, the 49ers' Pro Bowl receiver, was fined $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Williams, a safety, also was fined $10,000 for unnecessary roughness.

Stoutmire, also a safety, got a $7,500 fine for unnecessary roughness, league spokesman Michael Signora said.

Owens refused comment on the fine -- but in the moments after the game, Owens said Williams had been taunting him all afternoon.

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Oakland Raider starting tight end Roland Williams is doubtful for Sunday's playoff game against the New York Jets because of an injured left knee.

He has a torn medial collateral ligament, partially torn anterior cruciate ligament and some meniscus damage.

"I don't think that he'll be ready, but if it's possible to get him on the field by [today], there may be an outside chance," Coach Bill Callahan said. "I just think he's still sore. I don't think he's going to be at full speed."

Williams was hurt on the Raiders' final drive midway through the fourth quarter in a 24-0 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 28.

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Jason Webster missed another practice because of a sprained ankle, though the 49er starting cornerback still hopes to play Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Webster, a third-year pro, sat out last week's game after spraining his left ankle in the regular-season finale. He hasn't practiced since then, and he is questionable for the 49ers' next playoff game.

"We're ready to go if he doesn't [play]," 49er defensive coordinator Jim Mora said. "You always have to approach it as if you're not going to have a guy. I hope he plays, and if he doesn't, we'll be OK. I know he's getting better all the time."

Rookie Mike Rumph will start if Webster can't play.

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Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Kendrell Bell sat out practice again because of the left ankle injury that has troubled him for several weeks.

Bell is listed as questionable for Saturday's divisional playoff game at Tennessee.

Bell has sprained the ankle four times since training camp, reinjuring it again Sunday during Pittsburgh's 36-33 wild-card victory over Cleveland.

Steeler cornerback Chad Scott also is listed as questionable, but he practiced this week despite a broken right thumb.

From Associated Press

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