Rugby World Cup
This Week's Issue
Life of Reilly
SI for Women
CNN/SI - TV
Golf Pro Shop
MLB Gear Store
NFL Gear Store
SI FOR KIDS
Broncos' future hinges on Tuesday vote
Posted: Monday November 02, 1998 10:18 AM
CNN/SI's Bob Lorenz spoke with Sports Illustrated's Peter King about this week's NFL previews and news.
Bob Lorenz: The undefeated Denver Broncos take their show on the road to Cincinnati to play the Bengals, and that's where we find our Peter King. Good morning Peter.
Peter King: Hey, trick or treat, Bob. The latest Denver stadium poll has the initiative picking up steam as fast as the Broncos pick up wins. The vote to continue a 0.1 percent sales tax in a six-county region and raise $266 million dollars for a new stadium is up 57 percent to 39 percent. Now, I talked to Coach Mike Shanahan last night. As we reported a month ago on this show, he has an out in his contract if owner Pat Bowlen sells the team. Shanahan told me he'll definitely weigh his options and consider leaving in the unlikely event this vote loses, and Bowlen ends up selling. It's a very unlikely event. Look for a Denver rout regardless of the vote on Tuesday.
Lorenz: Peter, Jimmy Johnson doesn't want to see that Hail Mary again, but he is always up for a challenge. What about his team?
King: Well, Jimmy Johnson isn't as concerned about Doug Flutie as he is about his own team. I was in Miami on Thursday when Johnson, in the middle of an inside run move -- kind of the hallmark of Jimmy's teams, you know, the real physical inside running drill -- saw his offensive lineman halfheartedly leaning on the defensive lineman. He stopped practice, reamed his team out for lack of effort. Now, I think Johnson privately is very concerned that his Dolphins aren't taking these upstart Bills seriously enough.
Lorenz: Peter, Terrell Davis laid 215 yards on the Bengals last season. He must be like a racehorse ready to break from the gate.
King: Well, Bob, retired NFL official Bama Glass is a frequent visitor to Broncos games, and so some of the people around here said, "Hey, how good is this offensive line, I mean we know Terrell Davis is a great player, how good is this offensive line?" Now here's a guy who was a side judge for three decades, and he told Bronco officials this is the best offensive line he's ever seen. Now, how amazing is this? They lose Gary Zimmerman. Elway misses about half the first half of the season and yet they have enough to plug everybody into a great system. Now, you can congratulate Terrell Davis on getting to 1,000 yards in seven games, but you've got to give a pretty massive assist to those five guys in front of him.
Lorenz: Well, they are talking about roles, but [Minnesota QB Cunningham] Randall has been on a roll. Is Denny Green really going to pull the plug on him?
King: Well, Bob, for the first time this week there was a little bit of a crack in that Brad Johnson-definitely-gets-his-job-back-when-healthy school of thought. And no wonder. Cunningham has been near perfect -- 14 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, no losses. Offensive coordinator Brian Billick told me this week, there is no definite textbook answer. Now, Bob, there is no question in my mind that I still think that Brad Johnson is going to get his job back, but another great performance by Randall in a tough, tough place to play in Tampa, and I think Denny Green has got to give it some thought on the plane ride back to Minnesota.
Lorenz: Peter, Niners-Packers is, as we know, always a big game, but is it a little bit bigger for the Pack because of their recent struggles?
King: You know, the thing with the Packers this week, they wanted to see in their team that they were ready to play the 49ers. And I think that Brett Favre thinks this is going to be a signature game for his team, "How are we going to respond." And what happened at practice on Thursday must have been something in the air, because what Jimmy Johnson did in Miami, Mike Holmgren did in Green Bay -- really yelled at his guys because he didn't think they were practicing hard enough. And an observer who watched the next two workouts said it was the sharpest the Packers have practiced all year, I think they are really, really ready to play this very big game.
Lorenz: Time for Peter's notebook segment. What have you got for us this week, Peter?
King: Well, in Green Bay this week, the big news was that Mark Chmura the tight end signed a five-year, $15 million contract extension, but that's not the really important thing that happened. What this means is that now the Packers are free to use a franchise player tag next February on wide receiver Antonio Freeman, the leading receiver right now in the NFC. This is vital because Freeman had visions of $6 million a year dancing in his head, perhaps going to Cleveland.
Now let's move on to Cleveland with the Browns. This week, two very important things happened. They started to get word through the NFL grapevine that they would be able to interview coaches starting right after the regular season even if their team was still in playoffs. The second thing that happened is not good news. The NFL is playing hard ball on the Browns' ability to go out and get a front-office guy like Dwight Clark of San Francisco, and it looks like they are not going to be able to get a front-office guy and general manager until right after the Super Bowl. That would only give them nine days to prepare for the NFL expansion draft on February 9. But as one general manager told me this week, I'm sick of giving the Cleveland Browns more advantages, let them suffer with only nine days to the expansion draft, Bob.
Lorenz: 49ers/Packers -- Peter, you say the Pack.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.