PRO FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : Ryan Won't Be a Winner This Season

Associated Press

Buddy Ryan doesn't regret making the "You've got a winner in town" statement when he became coach and general manager of the Arizona Cardinals before the 1994 season.

Trouble is, the Cardinals were 8-8 last year, and they won't have a winning record this year. They're already eliminated from playoff contention going into today's game (1 p.m., Channel 11) in San Diego against the defending AFC champion Chargers (6-7), who still have a shot at the playoffs.

"I am a winner and I always have been," Ryan said in defending his statement. "All you've got to do is check the record. I've been to three Super Bowls with three different teams, we've always won where I've been, so to me that's just telling the truth."

The Cardinals are 4-9 and coming off a 10-6 loss to the Giants in which they outgained New York 342 yards to 199, but failed to score a touchdown for the fourth time this season.

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When John Gerak grew up in the small northeast Ohio town of Struthers, he could always count on steel and football.

Today, Gerak will line up at right guard for the Minnesota Vikings in a game (9:30 a.m. PST, Channel 4) at the Metrodome that could be one of the last for the Cleveland Browns, the team he cheered for as a boy in that crumbling blue-collar world.

"People are definitely [Pittsburgh] Steelers fans or definitely Browns fans," Gerak said. "There's nothing in the middle, and that's where it's hit the most. But they're a proud area that's going to bounce back. They'll still follow the Browns when they're in Baltimore, they just won't be able to go to the games."

The Vikings (7-6) are averaging more than 123 yards rushing since Gerak became a starter, including a season-best 190 last week against Tampa Bay. The Browns (4-9), who are 0-5 since Art Modell announced the move to Baltimore, are trying to get through the season.

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Houston Oiler quarterback Chris Chandler, who has been ailing for two weeks and lost 10 pounds, has mononucleosis. The Oilers probably won't determine his playing status Sunday until just before the game against Detroit. Coach Jeff Fisher has said backup Will Furrer would start if Chandler can't, but he hopes to get rookie Steve McNair into the game. . . . The Bears took another step toward leaving Chicago, suspending negotiations over the city's proposed $156-million renovation of Soldier Field. Talks scheduled for Friday to discuss personal seat licenses at the aging lakefront stadium, an arrangement that would require fans to pay for the right to buy tickets, were canceled.

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