Dec. 8, the day after a 34-27 loss to the Rams: "I'm not going to get excited anymore. It doesn't matter. It's only a football game. Six billion people don't care about it. And that's only this world. What about the other ones? There must be one out there somewhere. They keep making movies about it."
Head of the Class
The NFC and AFC leaders in class, grit and overachievement retired under very different circumstances last Saturday. Panthers linebacker Sam Mills had a 13-tackle day against the Rams, while in Green Bay, Bills wideout Steve Tasker, the most decorated special teams player in NFL history, was ejected for bumping an official 97 seconds into Buffalo's game against the Packers.
At the end of the Carolina game, Rams linebacker Roman Phifer waded into the crowd that had assembled around the 38-year-old Mills and said, " Mr. Mills, Mr. Mills!" before shaking his hand. Later Phifer explained his deference to the 5'9" linebacker: "That's respect, man." After getting cut by the Browns and the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, Mills stood tall for 12 seasons with the Saints and the Panthers. The end left him drained. "I'm all cried out," he said.
Tasker, 35, had to chuckle after the emotions that fueled his kamikaze 13-year career betrayed him against Green Bay. Angry when officials ruled that a punt he didn't field grazed the back of a teammate—the Packers recovered the ball for a touchdown—Tasker charged the crew. When he bumped back judge Tom Sifferman, Tasker was tossed, as the rules mandate. "I want to apologize to my wife," he said afterward. "It was her last game too."
Brett Favre Stat of the Year
John Elway set a Broncos record with 27 touchdown passes this season. In the last four years Favre has had 33, 38, 39 and 35 scoring tosses.
The End Zone
The Panthers" nightmare season began last summer when linebacker Kevin Greene held out during training camp, was released by Carolina and signed by the NFC West rival 49ers. It ended on Saturday with a listless 30—18 loss to the Rams amid a sea of empty seats at Ericsson Stadium. As if a 7-9 finish wasn't bad enough for a team that reached the NFC Championship Game last season, the Panthers suffered the indignity of seeing Greene pictured on tickets distributed for the game against the Rams.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]