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The NFL
Peter King
November 22, 1999
Back in Stride The Vikings showed some of their old firepower in a win over the Bears
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November 22, 1999

The Nfl

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One team sure to be looking for its quarterback of the future next spring is 3-6 Baltimore, which, in addition to its own first-round pick, has 2-7 Atlanta's first selection. However, there's good news for quarterback-needy teams such as the 49ers, who, with Steve Young's future in limbo, desperately need a passer. Most of the clubs that will probably be picking high—the Browns, Bengals, Redskins (who also own the Panthers' and Saints' first-round choices), Cardinals and Eagles—have recently addressed their quarterback situations.

NASCAR's TV Contract
A Good News, Bad News Deal

In the wake of the $412 million-a-year deal, running from 2001 through '06, that Fox, NBC and Turner Sports signed with NASCAR last week, the good news for the NFL is that the rival football league that NBC and Turner had been considering is now dead. On the drawing board since the two networks lost out in the bidding for the NFL broadcast package in 1998, the prospective league would've played its games in the spring and summer and finished its season around Labor Day. But the idea lost much of its momentum this year when it got a lukewarm response from advertisers and prospective cities.

The bad news for the NFL is that the league might have lost a bargaining chip in future TV negotiations. The current contracts run through 2005, though the NFL has an option to reopen the bidding in '03. NBC and Turner's agreement with NASCAR calls for about five months of Sunday afternoon programming, ending around Thanksgiving. (Fox will broadcast races only in the first half of the NASCAR season, avoiding a conflict with its NFL package.) At NBC last week, part of the rejoicing was over the possibility that the NFL, whenever it reopens negotiations, won't have an outside bidder that can drive up the price—as Fox and CBS have done in recent rights auctions.

"They can say what they want," one NFL executive says of NBC's decision, "but you watch: NBC will want to get back in, and it will be feeling out NASCAR to switch racing to Saturdays near the end of its contract"

Dispatches
Young to 49ers: I'll Play in 2000

Steve Young, still not cleared to play because of the cumulative effect of concussions, will not be deterred by suggestions that he should retire. Last week he told 49ers coach Steve Mariucci that he intends to suit up in 2000....

Yes, Ravens coach Brian Billick admitted, he made a mistake in the week leading up to his team's Nov. 7 game against the Browns, when he said his players shouldn't expect any close calls to go their way because the league wanted Cleveland to win. Yes, Billick called Jerry Seeman, the NFL's senior director of officiating, and apologized. But that doesn't excuse the league's handling of the Billick episode: First the NFL office waited 10 days to take action, and then it fined Billick only $10,000. How does impugning the integrity of the game merit the same fine as Bucs coach Tony Dungy received for saying that the instant-replay review system stinks?...

Browns president and 49ers expatriate Carmen Policy on being 1-8 before Sunday's upset of the Steelers: "I've been able to appreciate how valuable a win is and not take it for granted. I'm not saying stop and smell the roses, but admire them as you run by."...

The Chargers have no quarterback. Offensive and defensive players are bickering during games. The Ryan Leaf headache hangs over the organization. "I don't know if we could beat a high school team right now," defensive tackle Norman Hand said after San Diego's 28-9 loss to the Raiders....

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