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PRO FOOTBALL : Meyer, Perkins Headed for Unemployment?

MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE

This is the second time around for Ray Perkins and Ron Meyer. Perkins left the New York Giants for Alabama in 1983. The New England Patriots fired Meyer in 1984.

Both wanted to return to the NFL in the worst way. So they took two of the worst jobs. Perkins went with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Meyer joined the Indianapolis Colts. With their personal blessings, Perkins and Meyer have let their owners set up their potential firings this season. The Bucs and the Colts once again are disasters waiting to happen.

The time bomb in Indianapolis exploded this month. General manager Jimmy Irsay activated that bomb in April when he traded two Pro Bowl-caliber players -- tackle Chris Hinton and wide receiver Andre Rison -- to the Atlanta Falcons to put him in position to draft quarterback Jeff George. George received $2 million a season. Disaster followed.

Quarterback Chris Chandler expressed his displeasure. Halfback Eric Dickerson turned into a verbal terrorist. Center Ray Donaldson, the only remaining high-quality blocker on the offensive line, told management he had too many personal duties to handle to meet the Thursday reporting date. If he could, Donaldson would try to make camp Sunday.

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Suddenly, Irsay and Meyer found themselves with an offense that has a raw quarterback, George, and an aging but versatile running back, Albert Bentley.

To make matters worse, Irsay totally mismanaged the Chandler affair and might be forced by the courts to let him escape as a free agent. The Colts refused to pay Chandler his $50,000 workout bonuses. Chandler attended the workouts, but the Colts contend that he was there in body, not spirit. Chandler sued, but his intent is to break his contract with the Colts.

In the free market, Chandler could be a hot commodity. The Bucs reportedly were willing to give a second-round choice to the Colts to acquire Chandler as a backup. If he played, the Bucs would surrender a No. 1 choice next year.

Chandler’s agent, Mike Sullivan, said that former Oakland A’s pitcher Catfish Hunter became a free agent when owner Charlie Finley fudged on a postseason workout payment.

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“This was a willful breach of contract,” Sullivan said.

Way to go, Jimmy. The young Colts general manager already has taken heat for trading away the franchise’s future to acquire Dickerson, linebacker Fredd Young and George.

For those three players, Irsay sacrificed four first-round and two second-round choices, linebacker Cornelius Bennett, Hinton and Rison.

Young hasn’t been their best linebacker, Dickerson wants out and no one knows whether George will be an instant star.

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“If Jimmy Irsay’s father wasn’t the owner of that team, no way would he be running it,” Dickerson said. “He deserves to be a general manager about as much as Daffy Duck does. It’s a terrible football team. They couldn’t beat some of the worst Canadian League teams. That’s how bad it is.

“Two years ago, I thought we had a team that could go to the playoffs every year, but they’ve dismantled the team slowly but surely. With what they’ve got left, there’s probably not a chance they’ll win five games. Without me, it might be zero.”

The Colts will have trouble winning more than five or six games this year. Defensive end Jon Hand and linebacker Jef Herrod are expected to have long holdouts.

Worst of all, if the Colts have the worst record in the NFL, the Falcons get the first choice in the draft.

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Look for Meyer to get fired.

Down in Tampa, usually cheap owner Hugh Culverhouse started spreading some money to players this off-season. He traded for halfback Gary Anderson. He took chances on top, expensive athletes in the draft who could produce big dividends -- namely linebacker Keith McCants and halfback Reggie Cobb.

Maybe this is the Bucs’ year?

“I’m about as excited as I’ve ever been about any team in Tampa,” Culverhouse said. “I predict we will go 11-5 or could go 12-4 with a few breaks. I can’t sit here and tell you we’ll be as good as any team in the league, but I think we will. I know we will be in the top six, seven or eight teams in the league.”

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But they aren’t. So Perkins, who has never won more than five games in a season with the Bucs, should be joining the unemployment lines. Meyer and Perkins wanted to get back to the NFL in the worst way and they did.

The Green Bay Packers are puzzled by the Don Majkowski negotiations. They have offered him a two-year, $2.4 million contract, but his agent, Randy Vataha, won’t come down at all in his demand for $2.8 million a season.

Majkowski, who became a one-year sensation last season, wants a $3 million signing bonus included in the contract.

“He started out asking for the universe,” Packers general manager Tom Braatz said. “Now, he’s at Mars. I hope he comes back to Earth.”

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The Denver Broncos have serious contract troubles with defensive end Ron Holmes. The former University of Washington defender wants $1 million a season. Speaking of Huskies lineman, tackle Dennis Brown, all 310 pounds of him, had a weight clause included in the contract he signed with the San Fransisco 49ers Friday.

Broncos receiver Ricky Nattiel is still troubled by the cracked right kneecap that kept him ineffective last season.

The San Diego Chargers camp is off to a bad start. Guard Leo Goeas, a third-round choice, suffered a foot injury that might keep him out for the season.

Wide receiver Ron Walker, who caught 24 passes as a rookie, blew out a knee and will miss the season. First-round choice Junior Seau won’t come down from his $1.5-million-a-year contract demand and is buckled in for a long holdout.

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If Steve Beuerlein’s holdout persists, the Raiders might sign Doug Williams for help. That might not be too critical, though. Jay Schroeder is having a great camp.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Albert Lewis is trying everything possible to force a trade. Last week, he criticized president Carl Peterson for having an Eastern, arrogant attitude.

Jeff George has been throwing well in the Colts camp. Some compare his throwing style to former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

Like Bradshaw, George puts his right index finger at the back point of the football.

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The trade value of Houston Oilers halfback Mike Rozier has dropped so much that the Eagles rejected a straight-up trade for quarterback Don McPherson.

Eagles coach Buddy Ryan never minces words. He told Philadelphia writers that he wanted to steal a first-round choice from the Seahawks in a trade for holdout middle linebacker Byron Evans.

Ryan said that Seahawks coach Chuck Knox was fighting for his job and needed a solid middle linebacker for his new 4-3 defense. What he didn’t tell the writers was that the Seahawks weren’t interested.

Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula is willing to take chances. In May, he signed cornerback Reggie Sutton, who has had a history of drug problems. Sutton had to be released when he failed to show up for a drug test. Last week, he added halfback Tony Collins, another player with a drug history. Collins has been impressive in camp.

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The Cincinnati Bengals are expected to stay in Seattle for a week after they play the Seahawks Oct. 1 because they visit the Los Angeles Rams the next week.

The Broncos washed their hands of halfback Lorenzo Hampton by trading him to the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional sixth-round pick.

Hampton, a Plan B acquisition, practiced 11 days and collected $155,000 in signing and reporting bonuses. The Broncos aren’t impressed with another expensive Plan B acquistion, tight end Chris Verhulst.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas loves Bart Simpson. Each day in practice, he’s worn a different Simpson T-shirt. Among the early selections: “Bart is my hero”; “Bart isn’t an underachiever”; “Bart can achieve anything he sets his mind to, good or bad”; and “Bart’s a radical dude.”

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Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Jim McMahon is causing a stir. Each day, the controversial quarterback has worn a different jersey. The Eagles refused to give him his customary No. 9 because that belongs to holdout quarterback Don McPherson. The first day, McMahon wore a question mark on the back of his jersey. The second day he wore the No. 12 of starter Randall Cunningham. He followed that with Jerome Brown’s No. 99. On the fourth day, he wore a black jersey with no number at all.

Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien golfed this summer with Phoenix Cardinals return specialist Vai Sikahema. During their round, the conversation turned to Timm Rosenbach, another product of the Washington State quarterback fraternity. “We started talking about Timm, and Mark said, ‘If Timm ever gets his head out of the bar and into the playbook, he’ll be a good quarterback,’ ” Sikahema told Phoenix reporters this week. When asked by reporters about Rypien’s comments, Rosenbach replied bitterly, “I’m a 23-year-old single male. I have a life. I’m tired of it. I’m sick of the crap, everyone saying I can’t do this and I can’t do that. That’s a bunch of b.s. I know I can play in this league. I know I can win. I’ll show everybody.” Rosenbach had nine completions in his rookie season.


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