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THE NFL
Peter King
December 23, 1991
Coming of Age
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December 23, 1991

The Nfl

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Relax the anticelebration rule. Tagliabue admits that the league "overreacted" last March, when it banned almost all endzone celebrating and postgame fraternizing, even for prayer. Next March he's going to ask the rulemakers to lighten up.

Dispatches
Last year only 1% of the players on World League of American Football rosters were on loan from NFL teams. But the NFL's contribution could reach 30% next year if NFL owners approve a plan that calls for each team to donate four players to a pool that would help stock the spring league in 1992. Such an influx would mean that 112 of the 372 players on the World League teams would be from NFL rosters, and the heads of both leagues think this move would make the WLAF's game more credible. A lot of backup quarterbacks and developing players at other positions in the NFL would get added experience by playing in the WLAF, and one guy the World League really wants is Raider backup quarterback Todd Marinovich.... Nine-year-old Justin Glanville, son of Jerry, the Atlanta coach, has written Tagliabue asking for an explanation. He wants to know why he is barred from the Falcon sideline under an NFL rule that prohibits persons in the bench area who serve no "game-related function." The letter begins, "Dear Mr. Taglabo."

Stats of the Week

•Only one Lion player, kicker Eddie Murray, had been born when Detroit last played a postseason game at home, in 1957. On Sunday, the Lions, now 11-4, clinched a home playoff game by beating Green Bay 21-17.

•The Oilers had 14 players on the field for an offensive play against the Browns and, amazingly, weren't flagged. Houston won 17-14.

Game of the Week
Detroit at Buffalo, Sunday. This will be the first meeting between superbacks Thurman Thomas of the Bills and Barry Sanders of the Lions. Fittingly, the game could decide the rushing title, with the only other competition coming from Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys. But there's more. While he was a standout at Oklahoma State, Thomas helped recruit Sanders, who eventually became his successor in State's backfield. Then last season they became the first players from the same college to finish one-two in the NFL in rushing. Here's how Thomas, who will play Sunday despite a sprained left ankle, and Sanders are dominating:

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

The End Zone

Ten years ago the Colts, who were 1-14 and already owned two first-round choices in the 1982 draft, met the 2-13 Patriots on the final weekend of the regular season, and the overall No. 1 pick was on the line. That game also was the last for Mike McCormack as coach of the then Baltimore Colts and Ron Erhardt as coach of New England.

This Sunday the Colts once again are 1-14 and will have an extra first-round pick in hand when they face the 2-13 Buccaneers, and again the top selection in the next draft will be up for grabs. Moreover, the game is expected to be the last for coaches Rick Venturi of Indianapolis and Richard Williamson of Tampa Bay.

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