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STILL A COLT
The news that Indianapolis general manager Jimmy Irsay had taken quarterback Jeff George off the trading block didn't seem to come as much of a surprise to George on Sunday afternoon. "There's nothing I can do about it," he said with a shrug.
On Sept. 22, Irsay sent a one-page fax to all 28 teams, telling them that George was not available. One source says that the day before, a team—believed to be the Raiders—had turned down the chance to acquire George for two first-round draft choices. After that the Colts decided enough was enough.
The uncertainty surrounding George, who had held out for 36 days during the preseason in a snit over his treatment by fans and the media, had become an intolerable distraction for the organization. So Indianapolis took the unusual step of informing every team in the league that it wouldn't be trading George. Irsay tried to put a positive spin on the decision. "If we traded Jeff, our biggest need would be a young quarterback," he said. "We already think we have a great young quarterback, so it wouldn't make much sense for us to trade him."
Had a trade been made, it would have continued a bleak period of dealing by the Colts, who since '87 have traded four first-round picks, two second-round picks, Andre Rison, Chris Hinton and Cornelius Bennett for George, running back Eric Dickerson and linebacker Fredd Young. George is the only one of the last three still in a Colt uniform; Rison, Hinton and Bennett have all made recent trips to the Pro Bowl. And though George is said to be eager to leave his home state, the Colts would be foolish to oblige him.
"He's a talented player, Marino-like," says the player personnel director of a team that had shown interest in George during his holdout. "He's in the top five in the NFL as a pure passer, and if he's not their guy behind center, they're a mediocre team. I've got him pegged as a spoiled kid who has been pampered all his life and packs it in if things aren't going his way. But I think if he gets back in there and wins a few games, he can get his career back to normal."
On Sunday in Indianapolis, George made a brief third-quarter appearance in the Colts' 23-10 win over Cleveland after quarterback Jack Trudeau, who was given the starting job during George's holdout, left the game for a series with a bruised thigh. George entered to a loud chorus of boos and only a smattering of applause. He played one series—in which the Colts ran the ball three times before punting—and wasn't seen again. When George jogged off the field to more boos, defensive end Sam Clancy slapped George's hand and hollered into the side of his helmet, "Keep your head up. You'll make the plays. Just don't have ears."
Good advice. It's tough to get ripped in your hometown, but George is going to have to get used to it.
BE LIKE MIKE
Who is the hottest receiver in football? Is it Rob Moore of the Jets or the other Moore, Herman of the Lions? Nope, it's Alvin Harper, who usually resides in Michael Irvin's shadow in Dallas. Over his last six games—including three in last season's playoffs—Harper has averaged 28.9 yards per catch, a phenomenal figure. Harper credits quarterback Troy Aikman, saying, "Troy's in such a zone. Every ball hits me right in the hands, right in stride."