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Tuesday Roundup

Panthers offensive coordinator Musgrave resigns

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Latest: Wednesday October 04, 2000 02:04 AM


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Bill Musgrave resigned Tuesday as Carolina's offensive coordinator, ending a four-game stint in which the Panthers' offense slipped into an unexpected impotency under him.

Musgrave, 33, was in his first season as Carolina's offensive coordinator. He was the quarterbacks coach last year and helped 14-year veteran Steve Beuerlein to the best year of his career in that role.

Beuerlein threw for an NFL-best 4,436 passing yards and earned his first Pro Bowl berth while leading the Panthers to the second-best passing offense in the league.

But the Panthers have struggled on offense this season and dropped to 1-3 with a 16-13 overtime loss to Dallas on Sunday.

"Bill told me this morning that he felt like it was in the best interest of the team to resign," coach George Seifert said. "We met at length and I tried to convince him to stay, but I couldn't change his mind."

The Panthers also cut kicker Richie Cunningham, who -- along with Musgrave -- played a large role in their loss to Dallas.

Tied at 13 with 6:25 to play on Sunday, Carolina had a fourth-and-1 play at the Dallas 30.

Because Cunningham has been so inconsistent since taking over for the injured John Kasay -- he's made 5-of-7 field goals -- they decided not to let him try the 47-yard field goal and instead went for the first down.

Beuerlein was given two options by Musgrave. The first was a quarterback sneak, the second a short pass if Dallas' defense had jammed the line. Beuerlein called for the pass at the line of scrimmage, but his throw was incomplete and Dallas took over on downs.

Seifert took full responsibility for the play on Monday, saying he has the power to overrule any call.

"Second-guessing myself, I would have run a different play," Seifert said.

Carolina's offensive numbers are down this year. The Panthers averaged 26 points and 355 yards a game last year.

But aside from a 38-point performance they had in a win over San Francisco in Week 2, the Panthers have scored a combined 40 points in their three other games.

Musgrave joined the Panthers last year as quarterback coach after spending the last 10 games of the 1998 season as offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. He was promoted in January when Gil Haskell left to take the same job in Seattle.

Assistant head coach Richard Williamson will take over Musgrave's duties.

Williamson has been with the Panthers since the team's inception in 1995 as receivers coach and has played an instrumental role in the development of Pro Bowl receiver Muhsin Muhammad, Patrick Jeffers, and Donald Hayes as well as Raghib Ismail of the Dallas Cowboys.

Meanwhile, the Panthers signed Joe Nedney to replace Cunningham. Nedney had been kicking for the Denver Broncos while Jason Elam was recovering from an injured back.

In another move, wide receiver Dialleo Burks was waived, clearing room for punt returner Iheanyi Uwaezuoke, expected to sign Wednesday.

Uwaezuoke went to training camp with the Panthers last season before being released and played 10 games for Detroit, where he returned 18 punts for 150 yards.

The Panthers need Uwaezuoke because punt returner Eric Davis broke his hand and needed a cast, making him unavailable to return punts.

Chargers cut disappointing wide receiver Ricks

SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- The San Diego Chargers have given up on third-year receiver Mikhael Ricks.

The Chargers on Tuesday waived Ricks, who had just three catches for 35 yards in three games this season.

The 6-foot-5, 237-pounder showed promise last season with 40 catches for 429 yards, but regressed this year and became a major source of frustration to head coach Mike Riley.

The Chargers traded a first-round pick in 1999 for the right to select Ricks, a little-known receiver out of Stephen F. Austin, in the second round of the 1998 draft. The move clearly backfired when Ricks failed to become an effective target, despite his size and strength.

Rookie Trevor Gaylor, a fourth-round pick, passed Ricks as the Chargers third receiver behind starters Curtis Conway and Jeff Graham. Gaylor has six catches for 91 yards and one touchdown.

Ricks had 30 receptions for 450 yards as a rookie, starting nine of 16 games.

Vote on a Cardinals Stadium a dead heat

PHOENIX (AP) -- Maricopa County voters are almost evenly split on a ballot initiative that would provide public funding for a new stadium for the Arizona Cardinals, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The poll of 588 voters who cast ballots in the last two general elections showed 46 percent were against Proposition 302 on the Maricopa County ballot, compared to 44 percent in favor. Ten percent were undecided.

The margin of error was 4 percent, making the race a dead heat. The poll was conducted between Sept. 28 and Oct. 1 by KAET-TV and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunication at Arizona State University.

Voters will decide Nov. 7 whether to pass the ballot initiative, which would raise hotel and car rental taxes to help build the $331 million stadium, promote tourism and build Cactus League baseball stadiums and amateur sports facilities. The stadium would house the Cardinals, the only NFL team to make its permanent home in a college stadium, and the Fiesta Bowl.

The poll said that among those who felt strongly about the issue, 59 percent opposed the initiative while 41 percent supported it. Those who didn't feel strongly about the issue supported the measure 65 percent to 35 percent.

The poll also showed that 28 percent of those who opposed Proposition 302 did so because they were against raising taxes. Another 28 percent said the government should not finance private business.

"If the election were held today, it would probably be voted down simply because the people who oppose it feel much stronger than those who want the new stadium," said pollster Bruce Merrill, who supervised the poll.

He said a media campaign supporting the stadium measure will probably start having an effect on the public if opponents don't get their message out.

Redskins sign guard Fletcher to one-year deal

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- The Washington Redskins, hit by a spate of injuries on the defensive line, signed second-year guard Derrick Fletcher to a one-year contract Tuesday.

The 6-foot-6, 350-pound former Baylor Bear was New England's fifth-round pick last year. He never saw a single down of action last season but started for the Patriots in the first two games of the year.

The team suffered back-to-back losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets and cut Fletcher after the third game of the season.

Fletcher has been with the New Orleans Saints practice squad since last Tuesday.

He was signed at the league minimum of $275,000 for second-year players and will receive $190,000 over the last 12 weeks of the season.

Coming to Internet: NFL radio broadcasts

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Local radio broadcasts of nearly all NFL games will be heard on the Internet starting Sunday as part of a deal between the league and Yahoo!

The Webcasting partnership announced Tuesday means, for example, that Chicago Bears fans who will be out of town can go online to hear their hometown radio announcers call Sunday's game with New Orleans.

The radio broadcasts of about 90 percent of all NFL games will be promoted on Yahoo! Sports and heard on or team sites, with technology provided by the Internet company.

"We just want to make certain that we stay on top of all the innovations in technology and services and make them available to our fans," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said.

Tagliabue said the league's online presence helps promote football overseas -- where the NFL is already experimenting with showing TV broadcasts of games on the Internet, something prohibited under the leagues' North American TV contracts.

Those deals don't make such restrictions on radio Webcasts. Radio broadcasts of all four major sports and other kinds of content are increasingly being streamed onto the Internet, largely because advances in technology has improved the quality.

Five NFL teams' local broadcasts are excluded from the new Yahoo! deal. The Minnesota Vikings have their own Webcasting radio arrangement, and the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and New York Giants are on stations owned by Infinity Broadcasting Corp., which prohibits Web transmission of its broadcasts, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Monday Night Football ratings up in Week 5

NEW YORK (AP) -- Taking advantage of a light sports night, ABC's rating for Monday Night Football jumped 10 percent from the same week last year.

Monday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks drew an 11.4 rating and a 19 share. The 10-percent jump was ABC's best of the season.

Last year's Week 5 game between Jacksonville and the New York Jets drew a 10.4.

The 1999 game was up against coverage of baseball's playoffs. Monday's game came one day after coverage of the Olympics ended and one day before baseball's postseason began.

Through five games, the program is averaging a 12.5 rating with a 22 share. That is 9 percent below last year's 13.8/23 through Week 5.

Each rating point represents 1,008,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 100.8 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given program.

Brown placed on IR; LB Lewis resigned

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Rookie cornerback Ralph Brown, who lacerated a kidney in a game against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 17, was placed on injured reserve by the New York Giants on Tuesday.

Free agent linebacker Kevin Lewis, who was waived Saturday when an injury forced the team to sign placekicker Jaret Holmes, was re-signed to fill the spot on the roster.

Brown, a fifth round draft pick out of Nebraska, played in two games, primarily on special teams. He was hospitalized in Chicago for at least four days after his injury.

Jaguars release backup tight end

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Greg DeLong, who recovered a blocked punt in a loss to Pittsburgh, was released Tuesday by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars did not immediately sign a replacement, leaving their roster at 52 players.

DeLong was signed Sept. 5 after four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and one with the Baltimore Ravens. He played four games for Jacksonville and started in a two-tight end set last Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts.

DeLong never caught a pass, but recovered a blocked punt in the first quarter Sunday, which was converted into a field goal.

Ravens, NFL sacked in effort to dismiss logo lawsuit

BALTIMORE (AP) -- A security guard's claim that the Baltimore Ravens and the National Football League stole his design for the team's original logo will continue through the federal courts, a panel of three judges ruled Tuesday.

In a split decision, the judges in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by the Ravens and NFL to dismiss a lower court ruling in favor of Frederick E. Bouchat.

That appeal was made even before a federal jury considered any damage awards for Bouchat.

Ravens' lawyer George Beall said Tuesday he will request a hearing before all 11 judges on the federal appeals court, which is in Richmond, Va.

"The basis is inherent in the division between the judges," Beall said. "The lack of unanimity, the composition of the court and the inconsistency of opinion with other cases I think will be compelling enough for the entire court to review the decision."

Bouchat's lawyer, Howard J. Schulman, said, "Two to one is even a win in football."

Schulman said his next step will be to examine the financial books of NFL Properties to determine what profits were made from Bouchat's drawings in sales of team merchandise.

Bouchat sued the team and NFL Properties, the league's merchandising arm, for copyright infringement after the Ravens unveiled their logo in June 1996, months after moving from Cleveland. Bouchat sought $10 million in damages.

The amateur artist, who also is a security guard at a state office building, claimed he faxed his logo designs to the Maryland Stadium Authority in April 1996. The authority led the effort to bring the then-Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.

One of Bouchat's designs featured a raven with outstretched wings holding a shield containing the letter "B" and the word "Ravens."

In June 1996, the Ravens unveiled their primary logo, which was almost identical to the Bouchat drawing.

The Ravens and NFL officials deny stealing Bouchat's work and claim they never saw it.

A federal jury sided with Bouchat in November 1998.

In March 1999, the team changed its primary logo to a profile of a raven's head after a fan poll.

If the panel's Tuesday ruling stands, another federal jury will determine Bouchat's damages.

Despite the legal setback, the lawsuit is not a priority for the Ravens, Beall said.

"The Ravens organization is focusing on the Jacksonville game on Sunday," said Beall. "This is one step in an already protracted judicial process that is far from over."

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