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September 01, 1997 | Volume 87, Issue 9

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Vinny Testaverde Cover - Sports Illustrated September 01, 1997

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Two things we learned while at the Broncos' training camp this summer:

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Everything but the Big OneJohn Elway was the first player selected in the 1983 NFL draft, heading the quarterback class that has became infamous for its Super Bowl failures. The group's 0-9 Super...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
A fast start is important for a team that plays four of its last six games on the road. The Broncos could be 5-0 when the Patriots visit Mile High on Oct. 6 for a Monday-nighter. That game should...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Not only was Andre Rison's attendance at meetings perfect in the preseason, but the Chiefs' new wideout also remained awake during them. What's up with that? What has become of the malcontent who...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
A Nose for the BallCornerback James Hasty, a 10-year veteran, is the only active player with at least 20 interceptions and 20 fumble recoveries. But he doesn't just fall on those loose footballs:...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
The Chiefs bolted to a 4-0 start in '96, then hit the wall, losing four of their last five games and missing the playoffs for the first time since '89. How Kansas City handles its first six...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Al Davis figured that if his team was going to miss the playoffs, as it has in four of the past five years, it might as well miss them playing . So he fired Mike White, his coach of the last two...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
A Disappointment, by GeorgeJeff George, whom the Colts selected first in the 1990 NFL draft, has hardly turned out quarterback of the decade. After seven NFL seasons he arrives in Oakland with the...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Who says Al Davis has no friends in the league office? The Raiders open with six games against teams who missed the playoffs last year. If they can win, say, five of those, the Silver and Black...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Every summer the Chargers share their training site, the UC San Diego campus, with a group of husky adolescents who attend a camp designed to teach them how to manage their weight. The campers...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Charging AheadKevin Gilbride will be one of three rookie coaches to begin the 1997 season. In a profession with an ever-decreasing margin for error, the grace period for Gilbride, the Giants' Jim...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
The Chargers don't get any early breaks, with five of their first seven on the road. They do play five of their final seven at Qualcomm Stadium, site of the Super Bowl, but by the time the coin is...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Ho hum. Five days after reporting to training camp, rookie cornerback Shawn Springs jogged onto the field at 3Com Park in San Francisco for his first NFL play. It was the second quarter of...

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Beware the pairSome crafty trading landed the Seahawks the third and sixth selections in the 1997 draft, choices they used to secure cornerback Shawn Springs and offensive tackle Walter Jones....

September 01, 1997 | Austin Murphy
Seattle, which has sleepwalked through two straight Septembers (2-6), plays four of its first six games at home. After spending more than $46 million on free agents in the off-season, new owner...

September 01, 1997
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Here's a very iffy pick: The Redskins will unseat the Cowboys as champions of the NFC East. These are the ifs:

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Making 'Em CountHenry Ellard knows how to move the chains. Last season 49 of his 52 receptions resulted in first downs, including every one of his 15 catches on third down.

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Last year the Redskins broke on top with a 7-1 start, and they'll have to come out flying again because the first six games stack up like this: Carolina and Pittsburgh on the road, Arizona at home...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Lost in the never-ending turbulence surrounding the Cowboys—Troy Aikman's and Emmitt Smith's and Michael Irvin's miseries last year, the imported consultants, the extra security measures in...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Career CowboysJackie Slater spent his 20-year career with the Rams, the longest stint by a player with a single NFL team. The active players closest to that record are each embarking on their 15th...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
The hightlight is the Nov. 23 trip to Green Bay: the Cowboys have won eight straight over the Packers, the last seven in Dallas. The game comes three weeks after a crucial stretch in which the...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
When your center makes more money than any of your quarterbacks, you're serious about wanting to get people blocked. The Eagles' first free-agent pickup this off-season was center Steve Everitt,...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Empty NestHas any personnel move in the NFL this decade been worse than Eagles' decision to waive wide receiver Cris Carter six days before the start of the 1990 season? Since catching on with the...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
The Eagles could dig themselves into an early hole with four of their first six games away from home. They open on the road against the Giants, return home for the Packers, then travel to Dallas...

September 01, 1997 | Richard Deutsch
SEPTEMBER 13, 1976

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
The last time a homegrown quarterback was drafted by and started for the Cardinals was early in 1992, when Timm Rosenbach got the call. Since then the position has been a revolving door—Chris...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Bad Run off CardsThe Cardinals have not won a playoff game since 1947-the year the franchise, then in Chicago, last won the NFL championship. In the four major North American professional team...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
October and November will be the cruelest months for the Cardinals, when five intradivision game are crowded into six weeks. Two are at home, against the Giants and the Eagles, and three are in...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Quarterback Dave Brown remembers a December 1995 game against Washington when the windchill hit-10° and the winds were swirling around Giants Stadium. "I walked by the Redskins' quarterback, Heath...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Handing It OverTyron Wheatley has been unable to supplant the Giants' alltime rushing leader, Rodney Hampton, as the team's featured back. One reason is fumble frequency—Wheatley led all running...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
A split of their first two games—home against Philadelphia and at Jacksonville—would put the Giants in good shape heading into the softest part of their schedule: home against Baltimore, at St....

September 01, 1997 | John Walters
Saturday 8/30PRO BASKETBALLWNBA Championship GameAstronomy lessons, 1997: 1) Elton John was right—Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids; and 2) If you're going to follow a Comet to...

September 01, 1997 | John Walters
Rowdy one Hank Williams Jr. is joined by the cast of Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk to update the musical intro for Monday Night Football (ABC, 9 p.m.) this season. An inspired idea, this,...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
For years football sages like Marv Levy and Dom Capers have been telling us that the performance of special teams is as important to the outcome of a game as the play of the offense and the...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Here's the KickerPenn State's Brett Conway, whom Green Bay chose in the third round with the 90th selection, was the only kicker selected in April's NFL draft. Since 1980, seven kickers have been...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
With only two games at Lambeau Field after Nov. 9, Green Bay won't have much of a tundra-held advantage late in the season. Nevertheless, one of those games—on Nov. 23, when the Cowboys come...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Maybe they had spent too much time in the stifling Florida heat, but as the Buccaneers went through training camp two-a-days this summer, they were talking like a playoff team. If Tampa Bay, which...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
A Losing Streak with a Silver LiningWhen Tony Dungy began his NFL head-coaching career with five consecutive losses, including a 34-3 defeat by Green Bay in the 1996 season opener, he joined some...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
We'll know after four weeks whether Tampa Bay is for real. Between home games against playoff contenders San Francisco and Miami are division games at Detroit and Minnesota. The Buccaneers were...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
The trash talking from the secondary comes early in a game, and often. "Ain't happenin'! You're gettin' nothin' today!" is among the nicer things a receiver might hear from a Minnesota defensive...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Humble BeginningsPerhaps Dennis Green should pick up a Few pregame-pep-talk tips from Ray Rhodes. In 1996 Minnesota was the only NFL team that did not score a touchdown on at least one of its 16...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
The Vikings play five of their first eight on the road, including a Sept. 21 date with the Packers. For a young team that lost four of its last six away from home in '96 and needs early success to...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Bobby Ross's first training camp as coach of the Lions was unlike anything Detroit players had seen in recent years. Ross's predecessor, the ultraloose Wayne Fontes, would pick up kids in his golf...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Two Steps Forward, One Step BackBarry Sanders, the '96 NFL rushing champion, also was in the league last season in rushes of 20 or more yards and in rushes for negative yardage—the third...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
The Lions can't use the schedule as an excuse. Despite playing six games against teams that were in the playoffs last season, Detroit has the NFL's easiest schedule. Seven of the first eight games...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
As quarterback Rick Mirer struggled to learn the offense this summer, there was grumbling among the coaches and the players that Mirer—the son of a high school football coach, the former star at...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Bad Stats, Good Omen?Rick Mirer's 56.6 passer rating last year was the worst in the NFL and the fifth-lowest single-season mark in this decade for a quarterback who has averaged at least 14...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Pity the Bears. In the first five weeks they play at Green Bay, at New England and at Dallas. Then they come home for emotional games against Mike Ditka's Saints and the rival Packers. With...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
It was by all accounts one of the most unusual sights of the 49ers' training camp. During an afternoon workout, new coach Steve Mariucci had his quarterbacks take snaps, drop into the pocket and...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
The Ones Who Got AwayFive 49ers made it to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl in February. But San Francisco had more former players selected to last season's all-star game (six) than any other team....

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
The first eight games are against teams that were a combined 42-86 in 1996. The only winning team that San Francisco faces in that span is Carolina, in a Monday-nighter on Sept. 29 in Charlotte....

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
They are the Panthers' version of Grumpy Old Men, and you can often find them near the trainer's room at Ericsson Stadium, where they like to soak in the therapeutic tubs while cracking jokes...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
Long in the ToothLast season, at the age of 37, Sam Mills started all 16 regular-season games and was the NFC's starting middle linebacker in the Pro Bow I. Cowboys center Ray Donaldson was the...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
Are the Panthers the team to beat in the NFC West? We'll have a good idea after they host the 49ers in a Monday-nighter on Sept. 29. Will the Panthers be a serious playoff threat again? We'll know...

September 01, 1997 | Edited by Richard O'Brien and Hank Hersch

September 01, 1997 | Edited by Richard O'Brien and Hank Hersch
9,923Games played in NFL history.

September 01, 1997 | Edited by Richard O'Brien and Hank Hersch
Eddie Murray's 21-year career has been one of top-level consistency. When the first baseman joins the L.A. Dodgers next week, he'll try to add to a lifetime home run total that is the highest of...

September 01, 1997 | Edited by Richard O'Brien and Hank Hersch
Maybe there is and maybe there isn't, but what's pictured here is no extraterrestrial. It's Australian swimmer Susie O'Neill wearing a revolutionary, Speedo-designed cap with built-in goggles to...

September 01, 1997 | Edited by Richard O'Brien and Hank Hersch
The Brett Favre Bar, which was unwrapped last week, is one of four chocolaty treats featuring athletes and made by Michigan's Morley Candy Makers. We sampled the sweets. Here's our gut reaction.

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
During a 74-second span of their Aug. 15 preseason game against the Cowboys, the Rams showed just how bad—and how good—their passing attack can be. With 1:22 left in the first half, second-year...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
Sideline SabbaticalsDick Vermeil returns to the coaching ranks after a 14-year hiatus, the third-longest interval between full-time head coaching stints in NFL history. Only 15 players who were...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
In the first seven weeks of the season, St. Louis travels to Denver and Oakland and twice faces San Francisco, which has won the last 13 meetings between the two teams. Even though they are tied...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
Moments after the January press conference at which Dan Reeves was introduced as the Falcons' coach, running back Jamal Anderson grabbed a TV cameraman and walked up to his new boss. "Coach...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
Mr. AutomaticMorten Andersen's missed 30-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the Falcons' 1996 finale was significant for three reasons: It cost Atlanta a win, it sent Jacksonville...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
Six of Falcons; first seven games are against playoff contenders, Then, in November, Atlanta plays five teams that had losing records in 1996, which turns out to be the trickiest part of the...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
As you might expect, the intensity at Saints practices has increased now that Mike Ditka is in charge. Last season, after they finished their stretching exercises at the start of practice, the...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
Running LowOf the 27 NFL teams that were in existence before 1990—this includes all but the Jaguars, the Panthers and the Ravens (the former Cleveland Browns, who became a new franchise when they...

September 01, 1997 | David Fleming
New Orleans could easily be 1-5 when coach Mike Ditka returns to Chicago for a Sunday-night game on Oct. 5. With games against Carolina and San Francisco looming later in October, this one carries...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Several free agents who signed lucrative contracts with new teams in the off-season will be under pressure to produce immediate results. Among them are these notable newcomers to the AFC West:...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
Tackling Barry Sanders

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
The biggest handicapping mistakes I've made have come when I based my opening week picks on what I saw in the preseason. The coaches who leave their first-stringers in just a little longer than...

September 01, 1997 | Michael Silver
A QUINTET OF STRONG-ARMED, AGILE QUARTERBACKS WITH TONS OF ABILITY HAVE RISEN TO PROMINENCE IN THE AFC CENTRAL, BRINGING NEW LIFE TO A POSITION SORELY IN NEED OF STAR POWER

September 01, 1997
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and CNN team up on the Internet to offer up-to-the minute sports news and stats as well, as stories and photos from the magazine. You can also find SI articles and photos on...

September 01, 1997
Neither Patriots wideout Terry Glenn (88) nor Broncos corner back Ray Crockett snagged this pass last season, but the two men will battle for the ball again when Denver hosts New England on Oct. 6.

September 01, 1997 | Steve Lopez
The players' union prevailed over Disney in the Tony Phillips case, but who's the real loser?

September 01, 1997 | Michael Bamberger
ABA alumni gathered to celebrate the renegade league 30 years after its birth

September 01, 1997 | Michael Bamberger
Professional participants in "Magic: The Gathering," a fantasy card game played at tournaments and in comic hook stores, have formed a players' union.

September 01, 1997 | Michael Bamberger
Monte Clark Former Detroit Lions coach on how to relate to today's players: "The key to this whole business is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made."

September 01, 1997 | Tom Verducci

September 01, 1997 | Ivan Maisel
Syracuse whomped Wisconsin and served notice that it will be a force to reckon with

September 01, 1997 | Tim Crothers
Pitching stopped Philadelphia's ran at a historically bad year, A forecast for expansion lineups, A hurler is born

September 01, 1997 | Tim Crothers
The expansion Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays might be better than some existing major league clubs, based on two things: 1) their deep pockets for free agents like Kenny Lofton...

September 01, 1997
Your article on the 100th-best athletes deserves to be read by everyone. These athletes are the true role models.—JONAH RICHMAN, WOODMERE, N.Y.

September 01, 1997
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED sometimes carries ads containing perfume or cologne samples. Subscribers who would prefer copies without scent strips should write to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, P.O. Box 60001, Tampa,...

September 01, 1997 | Peter King
WITH THE SECONDARY BOLSTERING THE PASS RUSH AND LINEMEN DROPPING INTO COVERAGE, THE ZONE BLITZ HAS BECOME THE NFL'S HOT DEFENSE

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
This season the zone blitz will be the blue plate special for many teams. So what are the NFL's offensive brain trusts doing about it? Here are seven ways they believe it can be beaten.

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Offense is action, defense is reaction. At least that's how things used to be, until the 46 defense and now the zone blitz started dictating terms.

September 01, 1997
Wild-Card PlayoffsJaguars over Dolphins Patriots over Chiefs

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
It seemed too good to be true. Pete Carroll, the Jets' 42-year-old defensive coordinator, was going to be promoted to head coach for the 1994 season. The players couldn't believe their good luck;...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Tough Act to FollowPete Carroll is the eighth coach since 1961 to take over a team that had gone to the championship game (including the AFL title game) the previous year. Three of those coaches...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Yes Bill Parcells returns with the Jets on Sept. 14, watch out for the game preceding it: at Indianapolis. The Pats could be ripe for an upset if they look ahead. There's also a potentially...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
This is the second year in Jimmy Johnson's three-year plan to get the Dolphins into the 1999 Super Bowl, which will be played in...Miami, naturally. The first year? Johnson finished 8-8 despite...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Fresh FishLast Year Stanley Pritchett and Zach Thomas became the first Dolphins rookies since 1990 to start every game. In Don Shula's 26 seasons with the organization, only 10 players started...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
The Dolphin's 1997 opponents went 121-135 in '96, and there's only one potential cold-weather game on tap: at New England on Nov. 23. But that game against the Patriots comes on the heels of a...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
When the Bills' wide-open K-gun offense was eating up yardage in huge chunks in the early and mid-'90s, Jim Kelly made an interesting observation. He had been one of the original run-and-shoot...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Signal-calling StabilityWith Jim Kelly retired, Man Levy finds himself in a position he has largely avoided in his 11 years as Bills coach: needing to break in a starting quarterback. Todd Collins...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Two series of games will determine how the Bills fare this year. With a schedule that opens against the Vikings, at the Jets and the Chiefs, and back home versus the Colts, there's no reason...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
In the old days an offensive line would stay together for five years, maybe longer. Free agency has ended that. Linemen move around now if they're young and skilled, going wherever they can earn...

September 01, 1997 | Paul Zimmerman
Quarterback U?In 1987 Bears VP of Player personnel Bill Tobin used a first-round draft choice to select a quarterback from Michigan, a school that had produced only three players with as many as...