Ever the showman, Ditka would undoubtedly love to start Collins this Sunday at Carolina, but such a move makes no sense in the wake of the Saints' 9-3 upset of the Bucs. Tolliver played a smart game (20 completions in 32 attempts for 216 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions). "He manages the game well, and he doesn't make mistakes," Ditka said afterward. "Gotta stay with him." Then he smiled a sly smile, and said, "But you never know what I'll do." Collins dearly wants to be on the field. "You don't know how badly I want to play in that game," he said after the win over the Bucs. But he's not going to make waves. In fact, look for him to blend in just fine on the Saints' sideline.
Trying to Escape LT's Shadow
In 13 seasons Giants outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor had 142 sacks (including 9½ from his rookie year, before the NFL began keeping the stat) and was voted to 10 Pro Bowls. In 13½ seasons itinerant outside linebacker Kevin Greene, who's back in Carolina this season for his second tour of duty with the Panthers, has 144 sacks. He has been voted to just four Pro Bowls.
Greene, who leads the league with 11 sacks and is on pace to break Mark Gastineau's season record of 22, doesn't claim he has had the impact on the game that Taylor had—nor should he. In stopping the run and pursuing the passer, Taylor was peerless. But Greene is peeved by the lack of recognition he has received and wonders why he isn't considered one of the best defenders of his day.
Enmity among his fellow players has apparently hurt Greene. Since 1995, Pro Bowl rosters have been determined by a vote of players, coaches and fans, but before that, only the players cast votes. Greene, 36, may have alienated some of his peers with his attention-grabbing professional-wrestling persona. (He has even made some money as a guest star in the ring.) But aren't Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin look-at-me guys, too? Also, rumors of steroid use might have cost Greene the respect of some players, though he has never tested positive for any banned substance. "I've never done steroids and never will," he says. "It's a cop-out for someone to say that's hurt me."
Whatever the reasons, the snubs have been obvious. On two occasions Greene wasn't voted to the Pro Bowl even though he had more sacks than any of the three outside linebackers who made it. This season marks the ninth time that he will finish with a double-digit sack total. He led the league in '94 with the Steelers and in '96 with the Panthers, and he is in excellent shape as he pursues an NFL-record third sack title. By comparison, Taylor led the league in sacks only once.
Gentlemen, Start Your Firing
A prediction on the order of NFL coaching terminations: the Ravens' Ted Marchibroda; the Redskins' Norv Turner; the Eagles' Ray Rhodes; the Rams' Dick Vermeil, who, if fired, would have to be paid a total of $5.7 million for the final three years of his contract; the Cardinals' Vince Tobin; and the Seahawks' Dennis Erickson, if Seattle falls short of the playoffs. Also on the hot seat are the Bears' Dave Wannstedt, who probably must win seven or eight games to keep his job, and the Bengals' Bruce Coslet, who needs to show by December that the Bengals aren't as hopeless as they appear now. Interim Chargers coach June Jones will be judged strictly on his development of Ryan Leaf.
Couch Weighs His Options
One college scout who watched Kentucky extensively in October says junior quarterback Tim Couch is significantly ahead of where Leaf and Peyton Manning were at this time last season. But Couch, the scout says, is discouraged by the hard time Manning—who ushered him around the Tennessee campus on a recruiting trip four years ago—is having adjusting to the NFL. Couch will have to weigh whether it would be more advantageous to come out in 1999, when the Browns will have a topflight organization and riches to spend on free agents, or in 2000, when he would probably be drafted by the worst team in the league....
Panthers defensive end Sean Gilbert, who last April signed the richest contract for a defensive player in NFL history, hasn't had a sack since Sept. 13.
The End Zone
Beware, Ralph Lauren
Backup Steelers running back Richard Huntley likes to sew and makes his own pajamas.