Coward. Quitter. Hypocrite. And those were some of the nicer things the Atlanta Falcons had to say about their former coach on Wednesday.
Bobby Petrino left behind a bitter team and an owner who felt betrayed, skipping town to return to the college ranks at Arkansas with not so much as a face-to-face meeting with his players.
"I feel like I've been sleeping with the enemy," safety Lawyer Milloy said.
The Falcons showed up at their lockers Wednesday in Flowery Branch, Ga., to find an 78-word letter from their former coach, whose tenure in the NFL lasted all of 13 games.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank sounded as if he had just been stabbed in the back, saying, "The best way to describe the way we feel is betrayed."
The Falcons chose secondary coach Emmitt Thomas to run the team in the interim; he becomes the first black head coach in team history.
"This league is not for everybody," Milloy said. "This league is for real men. I think he realized he didn't belong here."
Even former Falcon Grady Jackson, released during an off week in a controversial move, spoke.
"It just shows his true color, like a coward with a yellow stripe down his back," said Jackson, who now plays with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Defensive end Jamaal Anderson, the Falcons' first-round pick from Arkansas, was asked what he would tell his alma mater about its new coach.
"One word: Disloyal," Anderson replied.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has invited NFL and cable industry executives to Washington next week to discuss alternatives that would allow more television viewers access to the Dec. 29 New England Patriots-New York Giants game that could end with the Patriots becoming the first NFL team to go undefeated in the regular season since the Miami Dolphins in 1972.
The game will be broadcast in New York and Boston, but elsewhere in the country, it will be available only to those whose cable TV providers have struck deals with the NFL Network, which will beam the game into about 40 million homes.
The New York Jets were caught videotaping at Gillette Stadium last postseason and the New England Patriots had that New York employee removed from the area, according to published reports. Jets Coach Eric Mangini said his team received permission to film behind both end zones during the playoff game in January.
After a Patriots employee was caught taping the Jets' defensive signals earlier this season, the NFL punished New England by taking away its first-round draft pick, fined the team $250,000 and fined Coach Bill Belichick $500,000.
A league rule prohibits teams from using a video camera on the sidelines. In the Jets' case, they were filming from the end zone.
The San Francisco 49ers put quarterback Alex Smith (shoulder) on injured reserve and signed Chris Weinke, 35, who will back up third-stringer-turned-starter Shaun Hill on Saturday night against Cincinnati.
Defensive tackle Raheem Brock (ribs), safety Antoine Bethea (knee) and defensive end Robert Mathis (knees) will join wide receiver Marvin Harrison (knee) on the Indianapolis Colts' sidelines Sunday at Oakland. Bethea and Mathis were injured last Sunday against Baltimore.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terry Glenn practiced for the first time after two preseason knee operations but isn't expected to play until Dec. 22 or in the season finale.
Trying to avoid becoming the first winless team, the Miami Dolphins (0-13) changed quarterbacks for the third time this season, going with Cleo Lemon over John Beck on Sunday against Baltimore. . . . The New Orleans Saints signed kicker Martin Gramatica and put Olindo Mare (hip) on injured reserve. . . . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Zack Crockett for the second time this season. . . . The Chicago Bears signed defensive tackle Matt Toeaina to a three-year contract.