PRO FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : AFC : Cowher, Officials Fined by League

Times News Services

Bill Cowher counted 11, and Ben Montgomery counted 12. By the NFL's count, it adds up to $14,335.

Cowher, the Pittsburgh Steeler coach who angrily reacted to an incorrect too-many-men penalty by stuffing a photo into a referee's shirt, was fined $7,500 Tuesday by the NFL.

The two officials involved in a miscalculation that cost Pittsburgh three points in a 44-24 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 24 also were penalized. Montgomery, the line judge who incorrectly counted 12 Steelers, and referee Gordon McCarter, who upheld the call, were suspended for a game apiece.

The one-game suspension will cost McCarter $4,009 and Montgomery $2,826.

"Our officiating crews perform at the very highest levels of skill, and basic procedural errors of this type are not acceptable and will not be tolerated," NFL director of officiating Jerry Seeman said.

Cowher was fined for violating the NFL policy against public criticism of game officials.


Neil O'Donnell is ready to play, and Deon Figures may be ready soon, yet the Steelers' injury problems aren't history.

Fullback John L. Williams may not play again for a month--or longer.

Williams, who has barely played this season, had arthroscopic surgery to repair right knee damage last week and initially was listed week to week. However, Cowher said Tuesday he probably won't be ready for weeks.

With only the oft-waived Steve Avery left at fullback, the Steelers signed Tim Lester, who made 10 starts since 1992 for the Rams. He was waived earlier this season.

O'Donnell, out because of a broken finger since the Sept. 3 opener, is expected to start Sunday in Jacksonville unless he has problems with the snap from center.

Meanwhile, Figures' injured left knee has improved, but apparently not enough to displace Willie Williams or Alvoid Mays at cornerback.


Jeff Blake, 24, who emerged as the Cincinnati Bengals' starting quarterback last season when David Klingler was injured, signed a contract extension through the 1999 season. Terms of the contract, which also renegotiated this year's deal, were not disclosed.


The experiment with the Bengals' defensive line apparently is over, and Dan Wilkinson is back where he began his professional career--at tackle.

"He was drafted to be a defensive tackle. That's his position," said defensive assistant Tim Krumrie.

Wilkinson, the No. 1 pick in the draft a year ago, had lobbied for a more flexible role.

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