Pro Football Spotlight

Pro Football Spotlight compiled by Bob Cuomo, Jim Hodges, Houston Mitchell, Ara Najarian and Larry Stewart


When Jimmy Johnson finally made his much-hyped, orchestrated and expected announcement Sunday on Fox’s NFL pregame show that he was forgoing coaching offers to stay in television, colleague James Brown asked:

“You’re going to feel comfortable walking away from $3 1/2 million?”

Brown apparently knew what he was talking about. A television source close to Johnson said the Philadelphia Eagles recently offered him a base salary of $2.5 million with another $1 million coming from TV and other ancillary deals.

Other sources estimated that Fox, which has signed Johnson to a new three-year contract, would pay him in the $800,000-$900,000 range, with HBO chipping in other $300,000 or so.


Talking with reporters after he got off the air, Johnson said: “I’ve found something at this stage of my life I love more than coaching football.”

He said the problem with coaching is the amount of time he feels he must devote to it.

“In Dallas, I lived three blocks from my office, and there wasn’t one day during the year when I didn’t go into the office,” he said. “I just don’t want to again devote my entire being to thinking of nothing but winning football games.”

Might he change his mind?

“Can any of us predict what we will be doing or how we will be thinking three years from now?” he said. “I plan to fulfill my contract with Fox.”


In the end, there was, well, the end.

After Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre dived over the goal line for a touchdown that beat the Atlanta Falcons, 21-17, with 14 seconds to play, he saluted the fans of Milwaukee.

“I hope they really enjoyed it,” Favre said, “because I sure did.”

The Packers have played a portion of their home schedule in Milwaukee every year since 1933. But in a revenue-generating move, the product of 108 luxury boxes, they decided to play all their home games at Lambeau Field, 120 miles away in Green Bay, beginning next season.

The Packers finished with a 107-63-1 record at Milwaukee and went out in style.

When Green Bay Coach Mike Holmgren left the field, he climbed a pile of snow near the first-base dugout, pumped his fists into the air and blew kisses to the crowd of 54,885 at County Stadium.


“Thank you, Milwaukee! Thank you,” he hollered over and over.


Losing to the New England Patriots, 41-17, hurt Buffalo Bill Coach Marv Levy deeply, but then again, he has had practice at it. There were defeats in Super Bowls XXV-XXVIII, for example.

“We forget the Super Bowl the day after the day after it’s played,” Levy said again and again. “We look at every season as a fresh start.”

Oh yeah? How about Sunday?

“From my standpoint--other than the Super Bowl losses--I can’t remember a game where I’ve been more disappointed, or feel worse about, than this one,” Levy said.

Maybe it’s because he’s fighting the future, which looks as bleak as a Buffalo winter. Nostalgia doesn’t keep you warm.

“It’s a feeling of sadness that we are not the team we have been,” Levy said.


Cris Dishman of the Houston Oilers was a bleary-eyed father for the game at Kansas City, maybe because he remembered what happened to David Williams.

Dishman’s wife went into labor shortly before midnight Saturday, and he lined up a charter flight to Houston to be there for the 7:12 a.m. delivery. Then he flew back to Kansas City, arriving 90 minutes before the kickoff.


A year ago, Williams, an Oiler offensive lineman, missed a game and was fined a week’s pay when his wife went into labor.

Karen Dishman and Chris Jr. are fine, actually in better shape than the Oilers, who lost, 31-9.


The end justifies the Means: Natrone Means rushed for 73 yards in 23 carries, giving him a Charger-record 1,265 yards. He broke the mark of 1,225 set by Marion Butts in 1990. . . . San Diego won its second AFC West title in three years. The Chargers have won the division five times--the others were from 1979-81. They have never won the AFC championship. . . . New England became the first team in NFL history to have five receivers with more than 50 catches in a season. Vincent Brisby has 51 after making four catches Sunday. The other New England receivers with more than 50 catches are AFC leader Ben Coates with 93, Michael Timpson with 71, LeRoy Thompson with and Kevin Turner with 52. . . . Whoa, Nellie: Miami’s Keith Jackson claimed the Miami record for receptions by a tight end with his second catch of the day, topping the mark of 54 set by Bruce Hardy in 1986. New England’s Rickey Reynolds became the first opponent to return a fumble for a touchdown against the Bills since teammate Vincent Brown did it in November, 1992. . . . Thurman Thomas rushed for 77 yards, giving him 1,057 for the season. Thomas has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in six consecutive seasons, breaking a team record held by O.J. Simpson. . . . That guy Kenn, he’s a real doll: Atlanta tackle Mike Kenn, a 17-year pro, became the seventh player in history to play in 250 games. The others are George Blanda, Jim Marshall, Jan Stenerud, Earl Marshall, Jackie Slater and Pat Leahy. . . . Atlanta’s Craig Heyward surpassed 1,000 combined yards for the first time in his career. His eight touchdowns are the most by a Falcon running back since Gerald Riggs in 1986. . . . At least they only have to erase the first name in the record book: Brian Mitchell set a record for most yards on kickoff and punt returns this season with 1,792. He passed Arizona’s Stump Mitchell, who had 1,737 yards in 1981. . . . Henry Ellard had 60 receiving yards to move into fifth place for receiving yards in a Redskin season with 1,316. . . . Once again proving Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had no idea what she was talking about: The Redskins became only the sixth team in NFL history to go winless at home. The others were New Orleans and Seattle in 1980, Dallas in 1989, New England in 1990 and Indianapolis in 1991. . . . With one game remaining, Miami is still waiting to score its first touchdown in the first quarter. The Dolphins have been outscored in the opening quarter, 82-15, but have outscored the opposition in every other quarter. . . . Miami’s Dan Marino extended his league record of 4,000-yard seasons to six in the first half. Marino reached another milestone in the second half when he became the second quarterback in history to attempt 6,000 passes. Only Fran Tarkenton, with 6,467 in an 18-year career, attempted more. . . . Atlanta’s Terance Mathis has caught at least four passes in every game this season. . . . The Steelers’ Kevin Greene, who leads the AFC with 14 sacks, did not have one Sunday. His next one will be the 100th of his career.


Tampa Bay Buccaneer Coach Sam Wyche is in jeopardy of losing his job after his third losing season, and Tampa is in danger of losing the team to Baltimore.

With that in mind, Wyche was grasping at straws Sunday after the Buccaneers won their fourth game in a row, this at Washington.

Said Wyche: “It generates enthusiasm locally and contributes to the logic that we should keep the team together. The players, the coaches and the management want to stay in Tampa.”



Cleveland Brown owner Art Modell has joined the growing list of sports franchise owners who want a stadium with all the bells, whistles and luxury boxes, but Cuyahoga County and city officials say they don’t have $300 million for him.

After all, they just spent $447 million on the Gateway sports complex to house the Indians and Cavaliers.

And don’t ask the state.

“The governor believes there has to be local public and private financial support before the state should be asked to participate,” said Mike Dawson, a spokesman for Gov. George Voinovich, former mayor of Cleveland.

Then Modell might move the team, current Cleveland Mayor Michael White said.


Well, how about Anaheim, to replace the Rams if they move to St. Louis? There is precedent, after all. They were originally the Cleveland Rams.


Denver linebacker Dave Wyman reinjured his right knee Saturday and will require surgery that has finished his season. . . . The New York Jets lost quarterback Boomer Esiason because of a concussion when he was hit in the helmet by San Diego’s Junior Seau in the second quarter, but he is expected back Saturday against Houston. There was no penalty called. Even if he comes back, though, Esiason will share time with rookie Glenn Foley, Jet Coach Pete Carroll said. . . . Other Jet injuries: defensive end Kurt Barber (sprained knee) and tight end James Thornton (hamstring). . . . Atlanta quarterback Jeff George broke a finger on his left (non-throwing) hand and was replaced by Bobby Hebert in the first quarter of the Falcons’ game against Green Bay. . . . Buffalo special teams star Steve Tasker broke his right arm during the first half while covering a punt. . . . Philadelphia running back Charlie Garner’s season ended when he ruptured a tendon in his left knee.


“Did I think we would lose 13 games? No, I didn’t, but if we had won five games, do you think I would feel any better than I do now? No, I wouldn’t.”


--Washington Coach Norv Turner, who was brought from the Cowboys to rebuild the team and now finds he has some heavy lifting to do.

“I always get a little nervous when he starts running around, but he has made big plays doing that. There’s never a dull moment with these guys, is there?”

--Green Bay Packer Coach Mike Holmgren after quarterback Brett Favre scrambled nine yards to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 21-17, with 14 seconds to play and no timeouts left.

“Quitting is a tough word to use, but I question if some guys want to finish out the season. Nothing can change unless you change the ingredients. I’ve just got to play with the guys who are put next to me.”

--Linebacker Al Smith of the 1-14 Houston Oilers.

“We have one more game and the nightmare is over.”

--Oiler running back Lorenzo White, giving you an idea who Smith might be talking about.


6 p.m., Channel 7

The Saints are playing their best football of the season, but that probably won’t make a difference.


New Orleans (6-8) has won four of seven games, including the last two--the first time in 25 games that the Saints put together consecutive victories. Coach Jim Mora said after each of the last two games that it was his team’s best overall game of the season.

Mario Bates has given the ground game some respectability and Jim Everett has looked more like his old self each week. Everett has passed for 19 touchdowns and 3,350 yards. Last week, he connected with Michael Haynes five times for 103 yards and a touchdown.

But the Saints have not defeated an opponent with a winning record.

The Cowboys have lost only three games, but what is worrisome is that in last week’s loss to Cleveland they did not play well until it was too late.

Quarterback Troy Aikman threw two interceptions against Cleveland after throwing six all of last season. He has passed for 13 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. But the Saint defense won’t be as tough as the Brown defense, and Aikman will not have to pass much.

Look for Emmitt Smith to carry the ball about 30 times. Smith had 112 yards against the Browns and scored two of his NFL-high 21 touchdowns.