PRO FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE NFL : Oilers’ Gilbride to Have Cancer Surgery

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride of the Houston Oilers will miss the next three to six weeks after he has a cancerous tumor removed from his right kidney.

Gilbride said doctors have told him the tumor appears to be contained in one kidney, and he hopes to resume his duties as soon as possible. He was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston on Wednesday and is scheduled to undergo surgery today.

“They seem to feel that they can get it all and that it is confined,” Gilbride said. “I’m going to do everything I can to recover and get back on the job.”


Receiver coach Chris Palmer will take over Gilbride’s duties on the sidelines, with help from running back coach Frank Novak.

Defensive back LeRoy Butler of the Green Bay Packers was suspended for one game by the NFL for a blow to the head of quarterback Andre Ware of the Detroit Lions during Sunday’s game at Milwaukee.

It was the first suspension of an NFL player for on-field action since 1988, when Mark Brown of the Miami Dolphins was suspended for one game after a similar hit on quarterback Pat Ryan of the New York Jets.

In 1986, three players were suspended, including Charles Martin of the Packers for two games after dropping quarterback Jim McMahon of the Chicago Bears on his head. Greg Townsend of the Raiders and Otis Wilson of the Bears were suspended for one game that year.

Jim Harbaugh will regain his starting quarterback spot for the Bears in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending the last two weeks watching Peter Tom Willis direct the offense.

Coach Mike Ditka said he wasn’t disappointed in Willis but benching Harbaugh was intended to be just a temporary move.

Ditka also said many of the Bears will not be with the team next year. Chicago (4-9) has lost six consecutive games.

“To be honest, you have to say there are going to be a lot of new faces, regardless,” Ditka said. “We’ve got to go out and not totally dismantle, but we got to bring in some people and we’ve got to get some other people on the field.

“I’m not going to say who’s going and who’s staying. The way we’ve been playing, we should all be gone.”

Ditka said some players will be playing for their jobs in the next three weeks. The Bears are out of the playoffs for only the second time since 1983.