Work in Sports
Brackens fined $15,000 for hit on Aikman
Updated: Friday November 03, 2000 9:11 PM
There was no helmet-to-helmet contact and no flag was thrown on the play, but the NFL told Brackens he was fined for violating a rule that bans picking up players and slamming them to the turf, then falling on top of them with all their weight.
Aikman, who has been hurting with a sore back, left the game after that play. He didn't return, and will not start Sunday against the Eagles.
The fine was the second for Brackens in two weeks.
Last week, he received a $10,000 fine for kicking Redskins lineman Jay Leeuwenburg as he exited the pile after a fumble recovery.
The Jaguars were off Friday, and Brackens was unavailable for comment.
Brodie moved to rehabilitation center
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie is continuing his recovery from a major stroke at an acute rehabilitation center, his wife said Friday.
The 65-year-old Brodie, who had the stroke early last week, was moved from the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, located near Palm Springs, two days earlier.
Sue Brodie declined to say where her husband was moved.
"He's moving along, he's in therapy, it's just going to be a lot of hard work," Mrs. Brodie said. "Anybody who knows John knows he's not real thrilled at being in this position. He's a fighter, he's a worker, we're really optimistic.
"Anybody who knows anything about this kind of thing knows it takes as long as it takes. You just take it pretty much day-by-day, and that's what we're all doing."
Brodie, who has lived in La Quinta -- also located near Palm Springs -- in recent years, played with the 49ers from 1957-73 after attending Stanford, and later played on the Senior PGA Tour, winning a tournament in 1991.
His 31,548 passing yards rank second to behind Joe Montana on the San Francisco career passing list, and his 214 touchdown passes are the third-most in 49ers history behind Montana and Steve Young.
Brodie won the NFL MVP award in 1970, and led the 49ers to the NFC championship game in 1970 and 1971. The 49ers retired his No. 12 in 1973.
Watters likely to make 107th start in a row
"He practiced well, and I think he will play," head coach Mike Holmgren said. "There were no restrictions at all."
Watters missed two days of practice this week due to a turf toe, but is expected to play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. He holds the NFL's longest current starting streak for running backs.
Watters injured the big toe on his right foot at the end of a 14-yard touchdown reception during the fourth quarter of Sunday's 24-19 loss to Kansas City.
Despite the injury, Holmgren said he did not expect rookie Shaun Alexander to see any more playing time Sunday.
"Not if Ricky plays like he practiced today," Holmgren said Friday. "there is a chance he could be sore tomorrow. We'll have to see how that goes. I would think it would be business as usual if he can play like he practiced today."
Also on Friday, quarterback Brock Huard did some aerobic work for the first time since suffering a concussion in the Oct. 22 loss to Oakland. Holmgren said Huard is expected to begin practicing next week, and could be available for the Jacksonville game one week from Sunday.
Reid says no truth to talk about him in BYU job
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid has been the subject of reports saying he's the top target to replace Brigham Young University head coach LaVell Edwards at the end of this season.
Reid said Friday the reports were untrue.
"No, nothing is going to happen unless they get rid of me here," Reid said. "There's nothing there. ... I'm into this season. I'm into the Dallas Cowboys right now and that's where I'm at."
Reid is in the second season of a five-year deal with the Eagles. Philadelphia, 3-13 last year, is 5-4 now and facing a critical game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. He played football at Brigham Young under Edwards, the head coach there for 29 seasons.
Broncos' Schlereth still questionable for Sunday
Schlereth has been slow to recover from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Oct. 16. He practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, skipped Thursday's workout and then practiced sparingly again on Friday.
Most of the swelling has subsided in the knee, but it remains sore.
"He took a number of reps today and looked pretty good," head coach Mike Shanahan said Friday. "I'm not sure if there's going to be any more swelling. So we're just going to have to wait and see."
The October surgery was the 14th on Schlereth's left knee and his 28th operation overall. Normally a fast healer, he initially was confident of returning to the lineup for Sunday's game against the New York Jets. Now, he's not so sure.
"It's been a little frustrating that it has taken this long to come back," Schlereth said. "The real key is how it feels [Saturday]."
Schlereth remained listed as questionable on the Broncos' injury report. If he can't go, second-year pro Lennie Friedman is poised to again take his place.
After Schlereth had surgery on the same knee on July 24, Friedman started three preseason games in place of the 12-year veteran. Friedman also started in the Broncos' last game, a 31-21 loss to Cincinnati on Oct. 22. Denver had a bye last week.
"Lennie has been doing a good job," Shanahan said. "He's still a young player. This is basically his first year since he got hurt [torn ACL] in the second week of camp last year."
Meanwhile, Shanahan said running back Terrell Davis and fullback Howard Griffith have had no setbacks this week and are ready to return to the lineup on Sunday. Davis has missed five games and parts of two others after severely spraining his left ankle and foot in the season opener. Griffith has missed the last two games following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Oct. 10.
The Broncos also expect to have backup wide receiver Robert Brooks available. Brooks has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury.
Backup linebacker and special-teams standout Keith Burns (hamstring) was upgraded Friday from questionable to probable on the injury report.
Reserve running back KaRon Coleman, however, has been ruled out of Sunday's game because of an ankle injury.
The Broncos were forced to make some adjustments in their schedule on Friday following a power outage at their complex on Thursday afternoon.
"We missed our meeting in the afternoon," Shanahan said. "Normally, we watch a little film. Some coaches just go over assignments. That was a little tough [Thursday]. Groups that couldn't get their work done made it up this morning."
Chargers toe fake turf at JC workout
EL CAJON, Calif. (AP) -- Willing to try anything in pursuit of their first victory, the San Diego Chargers jumped on three buses and headed to a suburban junior college on Friday.
No, not to play the school's football team. The Chargers practiced at Grossmont College because it has an artificial turf field identical to the one at Seattle's Husky Stadium, where the Chargers will play the Seahawks on Sunday.
"I think it's good. I'm going to get some for my backyard," quarterback Jim Harbaugh joked after the two-hour practice on the Field Turf surface, which looks and feels like real grass. "You don't have to mow it, don't have to water it. It's perfect."
Head coach Mike Riley agreed.
"Anything to cut down on mowing the grass is a good deal," Riley said.
And anything, even if it's just figuring out which shoes to wear Sunday, is worth it for a team off to a disastrous 0-8 start.
"This is different," receiver Curtis Conway said. "Coming out here today was definitely a good idea because I've never seen anything like it. It's better than turf."
"It's a very nice turf," Riley said. "I'm glad that we came out here to work on it because we kind of got the `what it feels like' over with. We won't have to step on the field before the game and experiment with shoes or anything."
No, just continue to try and figure out a way to end a losing streak that's three games shy of the franchise record.
The Seahawks will play at Husky Stadium for two seasons while their new outdoor stadium is being built at the site of the Kingdome, which was imploded in March.
Under vastly different circumstances, the Chargers beat the Seahawks at Husky Stadium in 1994. That win was part of a 6-0 run at the start of the Chargers' Super Bowl season.
Of course, Riley knows that a win against the Seahawks (2-7), who have lost five straight and are nearly as desperate as the Chargers, will hinge on much bigger factors than footwear.
"I won't assume anything," Riley said. "It's going to be awfully tough but I think we have the confidence, and I think we've got a chance to get a win."
The Chargers might have beaten the Seahawks in San Diego on Sept. 24 if Ryan Leaf hadn't thrown an interception that was returned 69 yards for a touchdown by Willie Williams. The Seahawks won 20-12, but haven't won since.
Leaf sprained his right wrist when he was upended after throwing that interception and hasn't played since. While Leaf once hoped to return for this game, he'll be the third-string quarterback, available only if Harbaugh and backup Moses Moreno get hurt.
"I don't think he's ready yet," Riley said about Leaf. "So we'll just have to kind of play it week to week."
Judge dismisses lawsuit over Bengals stadium
CINCINNATI (AP) -- A judge Friday threw out the last remaining issue in a lawsuit that accused Hamilton County of giving the Cincinnati Bengals too much control over land surrounding their new stadium and low rent.
Common Pleas Judge Thomas Nurre dismissed the case filed by Cincinnati attorney Tim Mara and Concerned Citizens For Economic Justice, a group of black businesses and contractors. Mara said he may appeal.
The lawsuit said that the Bengals' lease on $453 million Paul Brown Stadium was illegal because it provided unreasonably low rent and gave the NFL team the power to decide the height, location and other factors of buildings yet to be erected near the stadium.
Nurre ruled in September that the amount of the rent the Bengals pay doesn't matter as long as the team pays some rent.
The base rent for stadium is $1.7 million this year and drops $100,000 annually each year through the ninth year. After that, there is no rent for the rest of the 30-year lease.
The judge ruled Friday that neither Mara nor the citizens group proved that the Bengals' control of surrounding land was harmful because no development has taken place there.
Furman chosen as site for 2001 Falcons camp
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Head coach Dan Reeves said Friday the Atlanta Falcons will hold training camp at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., for the third consecutive year.
"They do a nice job of housing and the facilities are really good," Reeves said. "It's not that far away, which is good."
Reeves added the team hopes the 2002 camp can be held at the club's new headquarters in Flowery Branch. The Falcons officially moved into the $18 million complex Aug. 10.
"From the standpoint of trying to do it here, we just don't have a hotel or something," Reeves said. "You worry about where guys rest between practices and so forth. That's probably the biggest thing."
The Falcons usually require players to report 15 days prior to the first preseason game. That marks the beginning of training camp, which lasts from three to four weeks. Two-a-day practices this year ended a week early due to an exhibition game the Falcons played in Tokyo Aug. 5.
Since Reeves arrived in 1997, all workouts have been open to the public up until the week before the first regular season game.
"Training camp is a six- or seven-week period," said John Knox, an administrative financial assistant for the Falcons. "So just as many open practices will be here."
Knox, a nephew of Falcons president Taylor Smith, indicated the Falcons tried to work out a housing arrangement with Lake Lanier Islands, a resort located just one exit south of the newly renamed Rankin Smith Interchange.
Ultimately, though, Furman offered more amenities.
"There are going to be some hotel properties in this area," Knox said. "Obviously, the higher quality and more upper-scale they are, the better it is for us."
The Falcons alson announced Friday that the loacl Fox affiliate in Atlanta will televise a regular-season home game Sunday for the first time in nearly a year.
The Falcons (3-6) play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4) at 1 p.m. in the Georgia Dome. WAGA-TV agreed Friday to buy any unsold tickets, guaranteeing a sellout that lifted the blackout in metropolitan Atlanta.
As many as 7,000 tickets were unsold at Thursday's blackout deadline, but the NFL gave the team a 24-hour extension.
"Hopefully, a sellout will be in our favor," running back Jamal Anderson said. "I thought this was one of those games a lot of people wanted to see in preseason. It's fun for people who don't normally get to see our games."
The last regular-season home game televised in the Atlanta market was against Jacksonville Nov. 9, 1999, when the Jaguars took a 30-7 victory before a crowd of 68,466.
In the eight games since, the Falcons have not come close to a sellout. The largest crowd in the interim was the 58,761 who watched Atlanta lose 41-20 to the Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams on Sept. 24.
Capacity at the Georgia Dome is 71,228.
NFL's MVP helping Green during injury rehab
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The NFL's MVP is doing his best to stay involved with the St. Louis Rams while recovering from a broken finger.
Head coach Mike Martz said having quarterback Kurt Warner standing next to him is like having another coach at his disposal.
"I don't want him there very long, obviously," Martz said. "But he's really good on the sideline."
Warner, who broke the little finger of his right hand Oct. 23 against the Chiefs, will miss his second game Sunday night against the Carolina Panthers. The pins come out of his finger after next week and he could miss two more games after that.
For now, he's treading a fine line, trying to be helpful while remaining wary of interfering with current starter Trent Green.
"There's times when you come off the field, you just want to be by yourself and think about what you want to do," Warner said. "So I'm trying to figure out when I should go and talk to him and when I shouldn't."
Green, who threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns in his first start since 1998, said Warner is simply returning the favor. Green, who was supposed to be the starting quarterback last year, ended up spending the entire season recuperating from knee surgery.
"We help one another," Green said. "Just like I'm there for him, he was there for me on Sunday.
"There's some things on the field that you don't always see, and we'll continue to help one another out."
Warner didn't mind the input when he was leading the Rams to their first Super Bowl championship, or earlier this season.
"The interaction has been good," he said. "When I'm playing, the first thing I do when I come to the sideline is I go over to Trent and ask him, 'What do you see? Is there anything I missed?'"
Warner said he and Martz talked constantly in last week's 34-24 victory against the San Francisco 49ers, just like they did when he was playing.
"Any plays I might have, I might just kind of throw in his ear, things like that," Warner said. "I don't know if I'm helping out at all or just a pain in the butt, but I'm trying to feel involved."
Backers voice optimism in campaign's last weekend
PHOENIX (AP) -- The campaign for a new stadium for the Arizona Cardinals entered its final weekend with well-financed supporters optimistic about the outcome of next Tuesday's vote.
"I'm feeling great," said Joe Yuhas, executive director of Az Wins, the organization supporting Proposition 302. 'The media polls as well as our own internal surveys are showing we've got momentum.
"We're moving in the right direction and I think we're going to peak at the right moment, because voters understand this is more than a stadium and they're not paying for it."
However, Bruce Merrill, an Arizona State University professor and pollster, said voter anguish over the alternative-fuel subsidy scandal rocking the state government could come into play in the vote.
"I think a lot of people are angry," Merrill said. "This is kind of an anti-tax state anyway. I think a lot of people are going to look around and say, 'Hey look, we may need to come up with $500 million [for the alternate-fuel tax mess]. Do we need to spend money for a football stadium?'"
Still, Merrill said backers have waged a smart campaign and that all indications are the vote will be close.
Az Wins is expected to spend about $2 million on the campaign. Valley Business Owners and Concerned Citizens, the main group opposing the measure, says it will spend about $5,500.
"This is a true David-and-Goliath story if we pull it out," said the anti-302 group's president, David Molina. "I feel highly encouraged based on anecdotal evidence that's out there."
He cited the alternative fuel issue and simmering resentment over the way taxes were imposed for Bank One Ballpark without a public vote "plus the attitude that this is corporate welfare at its worst."
Dave McGinnis, who took over as interim Cardinals head coach when Vince Tobin was fired just 15 days before the election, planned a door-to-door campaign with several players in Tempe neighborhoods on Saturday.
Mostly, though, the pro-302 campaign is emphasizing aspects of the proposition that don't involve the Cardinals, one of the least successful franchises in all of professional sports and the only team in all four major pro sports that plays in a college facility.
Instead, the ads speak mostly about the money the measure would give to youth sports, Cactus League spring training baseball and tourism promotion.
The eclectic mix of beneficiaries has created a coalition that includes pro football fans, families involved in youth sports, the tourism industry and those who love spring training.
Yuhas said that he's heard support from many in the traditionally anti-tax, largely elderly population of suburban west Phoenix after Monday's announcement by the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers that they want to move their spring training there.
Funding for those spring training facilities in the city of Surprise hinges largely on passage of Prop. 302.
Campaign ads emphasize that the money from the proposition would mainly come from a boost in the county's hotel-motel tax and a surcharge on rental cars. Other funds will come from stadium users, an income tax on professional athletes who play there and from sales tax money generated by the project itself. There is no sales or income tax involved.
The Cardinals have pledged $85 million, plus $250,000 a year in rent. The Fiesta Bowl has promised $10 million.
Just what impact the Cardinals' dismal history and the image of team owner Bill Bidwell will have on the vote is uncertain. Arizona enters Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins in last place in the NFC East at 2-6.
Bidwill, who rarely speaks in public, owns a franchise that has won one playoff game in 51 years.
He has carefully avoided threatening to move the team if the vote fails, but there has been wide speculation that the franchise, which moved to Arizona from St. Louis 13 years ago, could be headed elsewhere. San Antonio and Los Angeles are mentioned most often.
The measure would provide $229 million of the $331 million cost of the stadium.
In addition, the proposition would provide $27 million for youth and adult recreation, $96 million for tourism promotion and $73 million for new construction and renovation of spring training facilities.
Critics, however, say all that is just window dressing, and that if revenue projections fall short, no money will be available for youth sports.
Three sites have been proposed for the stadium -- one in west Phoenix, one along the Mesa-Tempe border and one on the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation.
Packers staying out of this debate
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers trotted out several of their players to push for the referendum to remodel Lambeau Field last summer.
They've been much more low key about next week's non-binding naming-rights referendum for the 43-year-old stadium.
In fact, they're staying out of the public debate entirely as Mayor Paul Jadin stumps for the change for tax relief purposes and opponents contend that the sanctity of the storied stadium would be destroyed by calling it anything else.
"I just feel it's best we just totally leave it up to the fans, the voters, to do what they want," said team president Bob Harlan, who lobbied hard for the $295 million stadium refurbishing that passed Sept. 12.
"We've listened to the fans from Day 1," Harlan said. "We will do what they want. And if they say yes, we'll work strenuously with the city to make it successful."
Brown County residents passed the hotly debated stadium renovation referendum with 53 percent of the vote, and a new half-penny sales tax to fund the project went into effect this month.
The team and city would split any naming rights fees, with the Packers using their share to pay players and the city using its portion for tax relief on the stadium renovation.
Although the Packers are keeping mum on Tuesday's vote, it's no secret they'd love to get millions of more dollars into their coffers.
"I think you've got to explore ways to raise money," said kicker Ryan Longwell, the only player who has been willing to speak out publicly about the issue.
Because the Packers are a publicly-held team, owned by 110,812 stockholders, they don't have an owner with deep pockets.
"We're already at a disadvantage the way our team is set up," Longwell said. "Not that it's a bad way, but just not having an owner, we don't have a guy like a Jerry Jones or a Daniel Snyder who throw a ton of money and run it as a business.
"We're owned by the people of this area and so we have to work it differently and ways to make money are a lot more limited than elsewhere."
The stadium opened as New City Stadium in 1957 and was renamed in 1965, shortly after team founder Curly Lambeau's death.
Harlan used to say that tradition-rich Lambeau Field, like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, should never be tagged with a corporate title.
But that was before the Packers began a fast slide down the NFL revenue ladder as other teams built new stadiums and infused their payrolls with tens of millions of dollars in naming rights fees.
If naming rights to Lambeau Field were sold for $120 million over 20 years, city finance director James Blumreich said the city would shave $55 million off the cost of the stadium renovation and end the county sales tax in mid-2012 rather than 2014.
"I understand that raising anybody's taxes is a heated issue," Longwell said. "It's a heated issue in the presidential election. Obviously, it's a huge issue in the stadium vote. So, I think you have to look at ways to ease that burden and this could be a way to do it."
Longwell said he would hope that a buyer could keep "Lambeau Field" in the name somewhere.
"I know they have Oriole Park at Camden Yards. We could have Lambeau Field at whatever," Longwell said. "I think there's a way to do it without losing the name Lambeau Field."
That, however, would not be a requirement for a potential buyer.
If the voters give Green Bay the go-ahead to seek offers and the city can find a bidder in the $120 million range, the name would be changed in the fall of 2003, when the stadium renovation is scheduled to be completed.
Georgia merchants to reap rewards of 2005 Super Bowl
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) -- Southeast Georgians are already counting the money they expect to make when the Super Bowl is held in nearby Jacksonville, Fla., in 2005.
If the annual Georgia-Florida football game in Jacksonville is worth $2 million to Georgia merchants, then the Super Bowl should be worth at least $4 million, said Bill Tipton, director of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Visitors Bureau.
"You can double it because it's four days," Tipton said.
NFL owners awarded the Super Bowl to Jacksonville this week, choosing the north Florida city over Miami. The game will be played in February 2005, bringing many visitors to Georgia's coast during what is usually the off-season.
"To have something of that stature within 60 miles of us in February is outstanding," said Kevin Runner, general manager of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. "I think it's tremendous news."
Runner's hotel and other resort hotels in southeast Georgia were asked to provide letters saying they would have rooms available for the Super Bowl. Jacksonville also plans to use cruise ships as floating hotels to accommodate the crowds.
Pat Duncan of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, a former director of marketing for the Jekyll Island Authority, lined up the 28,000 hotel rooms needed for the event.
Most of the rooms in Jacksonville will be booked in blocks to accommodate teams, sponsors and other VIPs, while the Georgia hotels will house members of the general public lucky enough to get game tickets, he said.
Tipton said most hotels in the Brunswick area will offer no less than a four-day booking.
Earlene Crews, director of the Kingsland Visitors and Convention Bureau, said the game will have a huge economic impact at a time when Jacksonville Jaguars football -- always a big draw for Kingsland 25 miles to the north -- is usually over for the year.
Hotels in the Kingsland area have 1,200 rooms, and have all signed agreements that they would not inflate prices, she said.
Kingsland's proximity to Jacksonville is a real advantage, Crews said. "We're about half an hour away. We're excited about it."