Wyche: Mea Culpa
Apparently, not only is there golf to be played and tennis to be served, but there are also confirmation hearings to be watched. Bengal coach Sam Wyche, who after his team fell to 0-3 made the point that losing a football game was no reason to quit living life to its fullest, joined much of the nation last week in watching segments of the Clarence Thomas hearings on TV. Wyche felt a kinship with the embattled jurist. " Judge Thomas is going through some things on a much larger scale that I go through on a miniscale," said Wyche.
One major difference, though: Wyche agrees with the allegations of his accusers. "I think it's me," said Wyche, after Cincinnati dropped to 0-6 with a 35-23 loss to Dallas. "I've got to do a better job coaching. Figure it out. We've got good players, and we're playing good teams. If we were in a little better position to win, maybe we'd win some."
Those on a Wyche watch should know that Cincinnati's management is notoriously slow to pull the trigger on coaches. But in the seasons when the Bengals got off to their two previous worst starts, 0-8 in 1978 and 0-6 in '79, they did make coaching changes. Wyche, 61-61 in seven-plus seasons in Cincinnati, including an 0-5 start in 84, will probably finish the year, but then general manager Mike Brown will have to decide whether Wyche's frequent and caustic detours into media-bashing and his devotion to helping the poor, even during the season, are too distracting to the team.
"You name it, we're screwing it up," said Bengal quarterback Boomer Esiason after Sunday's loss. "We're making more little mistakes that teams kill us with than I've ever seen in my career." Case in point: Against the Cowboys, left tackle Anthony Munoz was neutralizing Dallas defensive end Jim Jeffcoat as Esiason, back in the pocket, scanned for receivers. When he found one to his left, he threw, but the ball came within the reach of Jeff-coat, who stuck up a paw and deflected it. The ball landed in linebacker Dixon Edwards's hands, and he ran it back for the clinching TD.
A Really Close Shave
The black cloud that floats over the Patriots is raining on them again. Last week the NFL had to help mediate an ownership fight between razor king Victor Kiam, who owns 51% of the Pats, and businessman Fran Murray, who owns 49%, and only one scenario seems certain: When this chapter in New England's history is closed, Kiam will own Remington Products Inc. or the Patriots—but not both. A club source says Kiam doesn't have the cash to keep both.
In October 1988, Kiam and Murray bought the Patriots for $85 million, with the proviso that within three years Murray could cash in his 49% share of the club for $38 million. Murray has since become part of a group trying to bring an expansion team to St. Louis, so in July, Murray told Kiam that he wanted the $38 million by Oct. 10. When that deadline came last week, Kiam surprised Murray and the league by claiming that he had a 30-day closing period to come up with the money. He said he would have it by Nov. 9.
"Victor's coming up with the money, even by then, is very doubtful," says the source. Murray, who disputes the 30-day closing period, wants his money now and is considering court proceedings to get control of the team. Under terms of the 1988 ownership agreement, if Kiam can't raise the $38 million in time, Murray can take over the Patriots and then sell the team within 120 days.
The league is not inclined to go to extremes to save Kiam, who made a terrible situation (the Lisa Olson sexual-harassment case last season) worse with derogatory remarks about the incident and with a joke about it at an off-season banquet.