Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, who on April 20 bought an option to purchase the team from owner Ken Behring, issued an ultimatum last week: He gave local politicians until Dec. 15 to shorten the time remaining on the Seahawks' lease at the Kingdome from 10 years to three. Allen believes the franchise needs a better stadium to compete financially with other teams. He claims that when he bought the option, King County officials told him the lease would be shortened; if it is not, Allen now says, he will drop his bid to buy the Seahawks.
That would be bad news for the NFL, which views Allen, who also owns the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, as the potential savior of pro football in the Pacific Northwest. Without him, the franchise could be headed to Cleveland or Anaheim. "Without Paul." says Bob Whitsitt, Allen's liaison to the Seahawks and the president of the Blazers, "there is no other owner in Seattle. The attitude in this town is if Paul Allen can't get it done with the money he has, how can anyone else get it done?"
Erickson is a Seattle-area native who was lured back to the Pacific Northwest last year to coach the Seahawks. Now he's not sure where the team will be playing. "If it's Cleveland, if it's Istanbul, I can deal with it," he says. "But not knowing really bothers you as a team. I can see the progress we've made, but do we have the money and the commitment to keep it intact? And can you convince the players to stay?"
Seattle has two key players who are eligible to become free agents—linebacker Terry Wooden and strong safety Robert Blackmon. The franchise's uncertainty could reduce the chances that both players will re-sign. "It'll play a part in my decision, no question," Wooden said on Sunday. "I'd like to know if I'm playing here, or if I'm going to be a Cleveland Seahawk or an Anaheim Seahawk."
Rallying Around Reeves
Giants coach Dan Reeves will have owners lining up to hire him if, as expected, he is fired after this season, because there's not a better motivator in the pro game. Case in point: Last week, with the Giants' season a disappointment, the reborn Cowboys coming to town and the New York papers predicting his firing, Reeves read his players Man in the Mirror, an anonymous poem about being true to yourself. "I didn't do a very good job reading it," Reeves said on Monday. "I got a little choked up. But it seemed there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and I wanted to stress if we did the absolute best we could to prepare for this game, we could win it."
The Giants beat the Cowboys 20-6. When the team gathered to say the Lord's Prayer after the game, linebacker Jesse Armstead asked to say a few words. He had recovered a fumble and planned to keep the ball, but instead he handed it to Reeves. "You stuck behind us. You inspired us. We wouldn't have won this game without you," Arm-stead said. The two embraced. Several Giants followed with bear hugs for Reeves, who took a minute to compose himself.
"I've gotten a lot of game balls in my life," Reeves told his team. "But none of them mean as much as this one."
Garrison Hearst had 23 carries for 67 yards on Sunday in the Bengals' 41-31 win over the Falcons; a healthy Ki-Jana Carter had zero. Cincinnati will probably tag Hearst as a franchise player or transition player so it doesn't lose him to free agency in the off-season.... The verdict is in on Buccaneers quarterback Trent Dilfer. First-year coach Tony Dungy has seen enough in the last seven games to realize he has a quarterback for the long term. Dilfer has been a 62% passer during that stretch, and the Bucs are 4-3.
The End Zone
Jennifer Heck, wife of Bears tackle Andy Heck, had triplets last week. Teammate Curtis Conway and his wife, Leoria, have twins, so someone asked Conway what advice he had for Heck. "Run," Conway said.