In the six years since he won the Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame, receiver-returner Tim Brown has been underused by the Raiders, but he is finally emerging as one of the NFL's premier players. Brown has kept the Raiders in the playoff chase with two superb games. On Dec. 5 he humbled the Bills with a 10-catch, 183-yard show in a 25-24 win, and his 74-yard punt return for a touchdown broke open a one-point game with Seattle on Sunday, giving the Raiders a 27-23 victory that improved their record to 8-5. "The more time we spend together, the more I realize how good he is," quarterback Jeff Hostetler says. "We'll get better together."
AL BUNDY DOES COLOR?
A new TV partner could be on the horizon for the NFL, starting in 1994. After meeting last week with Rupert Murdoch and others from his Fox network, league officials are considering moving Fox into the Sunday slot occupied for the last 24 seasons by NBC. Fox has become a serious player in the negotiations the league is conducting with the networks.
One thing Fox could do for the NFL is attract young fans, which the league desperately needs. The network specializes in such adolescent fare as Beverly Hills 90210 and The Simpsons, so it might offer a hipper brand of game telecast than cither CBS or NBC, and it would undoubtedly promote games during its prime-time schedule. NBC, which has threatened to abandon the NFL if rights fees aren't rolled way back, apparently isn't bluffing, and the combination of irreverent Fox and conservative CBS could make an interesting three-year package.
STATS OF THE WEEK
•At Stanford he was Touchdown Tommy Vardell; at Cleveland he has one touchdown in 27 career games.
•Only 531 days until the Jacksonville Jaguars play their first game, and they have already sold 45,000 season tickets.
JUST ASK US
•The smartest thing that Jacksonville owner Wayne Weaver could do—aside from pursuing San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard to be his football czar—is to insist when he meets with commissioner Paul Tagliabue in January that the NFL exercise its option under Article XXXI, Section 2 of the new collective bargaining agreement. That's the provision that gives the league the right to grant expansion teams an extra pick in every round of the 1995, '96 and '97 drafts. Three quarters of the teams must vote yea for additional picks to be granted, and Tagliabue should persuade them to do so. Jacksonville and Charlotte have paid an enormous toll to enter the league—$140 million apiece in franchise fees—yet they will receive only a half-share of the TV revenues for their first three years, which will leave them each with an estimated $55 million less than the other teams will receive in that time period. The least the NFL should do for the Jaguars and the Panthers is give them a big assist toward becoming competitive.
•Unknown players deserving first-time selection to the Pro Bowl: San Diego center Courtney Hall, Pittsburgh tackle John Jackson, Jet linebacker Mo Lewis and Green Bay strong safety LeRoy Butler. Lewis, who has had double-digit-tackle games in 10 of the Jets' 13 outings, is probably the team's defensive MVP. He speaks for this unsung group when he says, "Sometimes when I pass newsstands, I look at the guys in the pictures and the headlines and I think, I'm playing better than these guys. Why aren't they writing about me?" Soon, Mo. Soon.