Last week, for the first time since the 1970 merger, the Jets and the Giants, both at 6-3, held undisputed possession of first place in their divisions at the same time. Here's a look at their week alone atop the NFL world.
Monday. In New Jersey, as the Giants prepare to play the Oilers in Memphis, they have one eye on the Jets. "We want to stay ahead of the Jets," says rookie strong safety Sam Games. "Everybody in this locker room knows how well they're doing." Before practice, coach Jim Fassel senses the potential distraction, telling his staff, "You guys stay positive. I'm going to ride their butts." At the workout Fassel blisters ears. Focus improves.
About 30 miles to the east, at the Jets' practice site at Hofstra University on Long Island, something strange is happening. Coach Bill Parcells, who leads the league in decisiveness, can't make up his mind whether incumbent Neil O'Donnell or spunky backup Glenn Foley will start at quarterback against the Dolphins in Miami.
The Big Apple is abuzz. The Rangers are slumping, the Knicks have lost their home opener, and the Yankees are in a salary brouhaha with Bernie Williams. But of the first 19 callers to WEAN's popular Mike and the Mad Dog talk-radio show, 18 opine on Foley-O'Donnell.
Tuesday. It's an off day for players on both teams. Giants quarterback Danny Kanell, fullback Charles Way and cornerbacks Jason Sehorn and Phillippi Sparks go to Times Square for a taping of HBO's Inside the NFL and soon realize they're not exactly Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor walking down Broadway. As Sehorn, who looks more Malibu surfer than receiver-draper, wades through the masses, somebody says, "Who are these guys?"
Upon returning to the town house that he shares with Sehorn, Kanell takes a two-hour nap. Feeling the pressure of an NFL starting role, Danny? Later, as he lounges on a Naugahyde couch, Kanell stifles a yawn and says to Sehorn, "See where we're underdogs again this week?"
"Yeah, by 4�," Sehorn replies. "Hey, it's fair. You get three for playing at home, right? We've still got to prove ourselves. The papers say we're doing it with smoke and mirrors."
Wednesday. First thing, Parcells meets with each of his quarterbacks separately to tell them that Foley will start against Miami. Foley calls his wife, Jen. She screams in glee. O'Donnell thinks he's getting shafted but won't say so as he does interviews for the noon newscasts.
About two hours later Fassel announces that Kanell, who stepped in for the injured Dave Brown on Oct. 5, will be the starter for the rest of the season. "Never thought about what the Jets were doing," Fassel says with a shrug.
Thursday. The tabloids have a heyday with the Jets' quarterback story. Post: FOLEY COW! TUNA GOES WITH GLENN. Daily News: FOLEY SMOKES! GLENN GETS NOD. In both papers Fassel's decision gets a little less attention.