Maybe it isn't so odd. The early lesson here is that the star player isn't as irreplaceable as we had thought. Take the Eagles. Center David Alexander has said that this is the first year since he joined the team in 1987 that he has felt totally comfortable in the locker room, which had been a fractious place because offensive and defensive players didn't get along. Insiders think that coach Rich Kotite is glad to be rid of some of the high-profile players because they retained their loyalty to Buddy Ryan even after he was fired as coach.
New players like defensive end William Fuller and linebacker Bill Romanowski have been totally committed to Kotite ever since they arrived. " Keith Byars made one statement when he left that I couldn't believe," Kotite says. "He said, 'They're dismantling a great team.' How can you say that! We didn't win a playoff game with those guys."
Kotite is correct when he says the game "is played with heart and determination, not glitz and stars. The game has to be played from the neck up." You need talent, but less-talented players working in harmony might make teams better.
A Buddy Ryan-coached team hasn't allowed a 100-yard rushing game to a back since 1989. The streak continued Sunday, even in the Cowboys' 38-3 romp, when Emmitt Smith and Lincoln Coleman of the Cowboys were held to a combined 79 yard by Ryan's Cardinals....
Barring a surprising turnaround, the sun is setting on Jack Pardee's coaching tenure in Houston. In the first five weeks of the season Oiler players ripped offensive coordinator Kevin Gil-bride, and cornerback Cris Dishman said publicly that the Oilers weren't good enough to turn their season around after starling 1-4. How can Pardee allow such mutinous outbursts? Gilbride had been Pardee's heir apparent, but friction has developed with owner Bud Adams, who wants Gilbride to play tight end Pat Carter more. Gilbride has to be agonizing over the fact that the Oilers would not let him out of his contract to take the top job at the University of South Carolina last year....
Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf is one of the few league executives openly critical of the relatively generous plan that has been adopted to stock the two expansion teams. "The older expansion teams were never afforded this kind of opportunity," he says. "The new expansion clubs could be contenders by the second season and maybe even the first, and I don't think that what an owner paid for his franchise should play that big a role in determining how quickly his team can be competitive."
The End Zone
Maybe it really is time for the Rams to leave Los Angeles. Brian (Kato) Kaelin, who has parlayed living in the guest house on O.J. Simpson's property into his 15 minutes of fame, was a guest of the Rams at their game in Green Bay on Sunday. He flew home on the team charter after the Pack beat L.A. 24-17.