Says Damian Bisch, whose New York advertising firm specializes in sports products, "Ask Andy Warhol. Maybe the Fridge only has five more minutes of fame. Or perhaps it's over.
"There are two reasons. First, the party atmosphere of the Bears has soured. They were unhappy last year, but they appeared happy. This year, they don't appear happy. They're unhappy," says Bisch.
"In addition, the novelty of the Fridge was his versatility. He showed the world that the idea of a 'skill position' was all baloney. Skill was acquired, and even a 308-pound man could run with or throw the football. He hasn't done enough of that this year."
The Raiders seem to have waged a disinformation campaign involving a knee injury to All-Pro defensive end Howie Long. And Long is unhappy about it.
First, Raider officials said Long was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Nov. 16 for simple draining of fluid from above his left knee. That procedure does not normally require the use of an operating room or anesthesia. But when contacted in his hospital room the next day, Long said he had a blood clot in the knee.
"It was surgery—they knocked me out," Long says. "Then [the Raiders] said it was my thigh. The bruise was in my knee. The clot was in my knee. The scar is on my knee. And my knee is where it hurts."
Dr. Robert Rosenfeld, the Raiders' chief orthopedist, admitted that Long had been operated on for a clot above the knee, which he described as "massive." Pressed for a more specific description, he said it was "teaspoon-sized." Said Long, "Yeah. He said it was a teaspoon. About 10 of 'em. The clot was the size of my fist."
So why the secrecy, when the NFL requires full disclosure of all injuries? "I wish I knew," says Long, who believes that if he hadn't gone public about his surgery, the Raiders would have continued to downplay it. Long, who sat out the Nov. 20 game against San Diego, may be back this week against Philadelphia.
"It's a medical matter and not something we feel is relative to the press," says Al LoCasale, the team's executive assistant.
Says coach Tom Flores, "You have to understand the way we are."