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Nobody has bought the movie rights to the Eagles, but it's only a matter of time.
5. What learn is in the best position to handle football's new era?
The New England Patriots—if the team is sold by February. Don't laugh. This storm-tossed franchise has finally been thrown two life preservers: coach Bill Parcells and the salary cap. "I'm not here to build a competitive team," Parcells said when he was hired last winter. "I'm here to build a championship team." And he is attacking his team's personnel shortcomings the way his good buddy Johnson did with the Cowboys in 1989. The Patriots had scouts at 56 of the 61 NFL exhibition games this summer, scoping out players who might be cut this month and free agents who might be available next spring.
When players do become available, the Patriots will be free to bid aggressively for them. If the 1994 salary cap turns out to be in the neighborhood of $31 million dollars, as many anticipate, then about two thirds of the teams in the league are either near or already over that amount. The Pats' payroll is presently at a bargain-basement $20 million, and that leaves Parcells lots of dollars to wave in front of free-agent talent.
Still, Parcells's talents will be wasted if the team is not sold, because owner James Orthwein is just biding his time in the hopes of being awarded an expansion franchise in St. Louis. The Pats have a proven winner in Parcells. Now they need an owner who is committed to winning football in New England.
6. Which stars will emerge this year?
We like three: New England linebacker Vincent Brown, a five-year veteran who will become Parcells's new Harry Carson; Miami Dolphin wideout Irving Fryar, who will lead the AFC in touchdown receptions and receiving yards; and Phoenix Cardinal defensive tackle Eric Swann, the 310-pound man-child who is finally ready to throw his weight around.
Brown is 6'2" and 245 pounds. Carson, the former Giant inside linebacker, played at 6'3", 245. Both have granite upper bodies. Both are bright and thoughtful. "There are a lot of parallels," says Parcells, who wants to mold Brown into the classic run-stuffer and inside force that a Parcells defense requires.
Parcells spent the summer teaching Brown the fundamentals of inner defense, and one day Carson, now a New York City TV commentator, showed up on an assignment and wound up tutoring Brown. "I used to love watching Harry play because he'd read and react so quickly," says Brown. "I thought, That's the kind of linebacker I want to be." Brown has been a terrific player on some awful Patriot teams, and finally, at 28, he should get some of the spotlight he deserves.
Fryar, too, knows the Curse of the Patriot. The No. 1 pick overall in the 1984 draft, he averaged 40 catches a year in his nine seasons in New England, but scouts say that he has always possessed 75-catch ability. Now, at 30, he has maturity to match his potential. Fryar was dealt to Miami in April, and the Dolphins expect him to be Dan Marino's big-play guy, a more athletic version of Mark Clayton. "Marino to Fryar sounds good," says Fryar. "I hope it's said about 90 times this year."