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To us, this all looks like another case of the NFL's established franchises gouging the new kids on the block. The Panthers and the Jaguars have already been forced to cough up $140 million each in expansion fees; now they're being asked to compete with players who are overpriced, over-the-hill or both. And though there are a few potential gems in the draft—Dallas Cowboy defensive back Dave Thomas is a rangy special-teamer, while the Arizona Cardinals' Steve Beuerlein has all the makings of a classic cannon-fodder quarterback—there's no one to build a team around. Of all the players chosen in the six expansion drafts in NFL history, only two, Seattle's Dave Brown and Minnesota's Grady Alderman, ever lasted a decade with their new teams. Don't expect that trend to reverse itself.
He Said' Em
It wasn't so much the things he did and said, but the way he did and said them. Ron Luciano, the umpire who struck back, made his calls with great histrionics and made his opinions known with similar flair. Anything refracted through his world view, an outlook that was equal parts Berra and Berle, came out so skewed that it somehow made perfect sense. "When I started, baseball was played by nine tough competitors on grass in graceful ballparks," he once said of the 11 years he spent wearing American League blue. "By the time 1 finished, there were 10 men on a side, the game was played indoors on plastic, and I spent half my time watching out for a man dressed in a chicken suit who kept trying to kiss me."
Luciano said much more before last week when, at 57, perhaps out of loneliness, perhaps out of despondency over his mother's Alzheimer's disease, he asphyxiated himself in his garage in Endicott, N.Y.
On himself: "I like to hunt, but 1 never hit anything. I don't see too well."
"A double play takes 3.8 seconds. Even as dumb as I am, I can concentrate that long."
"I never called a balk in my life. I didn't understand the rule."
On his craft: "Umpiring is best described as the profession of standing between two seven-year-olds with one ice-cream cone."
"There are a lot of sails and brikes that I have to call balls and strikes."
"An indecisive umpire is as vulnerable as the rich sky diver who allows his only heir to pack his parachute."