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Packers’ Wolf: Don’t Expect Another Replay

From Associated Press

Ron Wolf, the Green Bay general manager, was characteristically blunt after the use of replays was voted down at the NFL meetings for the seventh straight year.

“I don’t think it’ll raise its head again,” he said.

He’s right. Barring some egregious error in a Super Bowl or conference championship game, it’s unlikely to be reconsidered for at least a couple of years.

Everybody is for the concept, stated by commissioner Paul Tabliabue as: “We want to make sure we can correct a call on which the season turns.”

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One play last season that could have used a review was the juggling interception by Bryant Westbrook of Detroit against the New York Jets that helped put the Lions in the playoff and knock the Jets out. Replays showed that Westbrook was juggling the ball as he went out of bounds.

But replay opponents remain unconvinced. For one thing, there is the limited scope.

It doesn’t apply to penalties, including pass interference, which can often be the most calamitous play in a game for a defense. The traditionalists are following the lead of the late commissioner Pete Rozelle, who used to say in the days before replay was considered:

“What do we do if we look at the replay and we see a penalty that wasn’t called?”

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But the more relevant objection is that there’s no real way to keep the flow of the game.

Can some system work or is it time for a moratorium?

“Maybe,” says Tagliabue. “I don’t know.”

When in doubt, put it aside.

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KRAFT-PARCELLS, CHAPTER XXVIII: When first asked if he would match the Jets’ six-year, $36 million offer to Curtis Martin, Patriots’ owner Bob Kraft didn’t mince words.

“The guy’s been hurt at the end of the last two seasons,” Kraft said. “He was hurt his senior year in college. Would you match the offer?”

Then he added: “Besides, it was Bobby Grier who recommended we take him, not Bill Parcells.”

Yes, the Kraft-Parcells war--or Patriots-Jets if you prefer--is definitely alive and well.

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Opinion around the NFL is divided over whether the Patriots did the right thing in letting Martin go.

A lot of football people think Martin lacks durability and isn’t worth the money. But others wonder what the Patriots will do without a proven running back -- they lose when Drew Bledsoe has to throw 50 times a game.

WASTED ENERGY? San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard flew from Orlando to Spokane, Wash., last week to watch Ryan Leaf work out.

Why?

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“I haven’t seen him throw in person,” Beathard replied.

Beathard probably leads the travel-happy NFL in airline miles--millions in 35 years in the league. And he’s certainly used them to good advantage. He’s had a hand in building Super Bowl teams in Miami and San Diego and put together a Washington team that won three titles under Joe Gibbs.

But if Indianapolis, as expected, takes Peyton Manning with the first pick, who else will Beathard take. He’s already traded up to the second spot so he can get the quarterback he desperately needs, and Manning and Leaf are 1 and 1a.

Whatever, private workouts staged for top picks for agents now seem to be the rule.

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“We’re going so the coaches can see the guys live and in person.” says Bill Polian, the Colts’ president,

“I’ve seen the guys; that’s my job. The scouts have seen them; that’s their job. The fact that this cottage industry--organized workouts--has grown up is fine. But I don’t have to buy into it.”

Maybe it’s a fail-safe maneuver.

In 1991, two quarterbacks were picked in the first round--Dan McGwire by Seattle and Todd Marinovich by the Raiders. Neither did anything in the NFL.

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In the second round, Atlanta took a guy named Brett Favre . . .

And traded him to Green Bay the next year.

So much for overanalysis.

AND . . . Here’s why it’s silly to grade drafts the minute they’re over.

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The Carolina Panthers, with Polian doing the drafting, were given high grades their first two years, when they used first-round picks on Kerry Collins, Tshimanga Biakabutuka, Tyrone Poole and Blake Brockermeyer. All started early but are now question marks or worse.

Collins, the Panthers’ first pick ever, had a miserable season last year after quarterbacking the Panthers to the NFC West title in their (and his) second year. He was hurt and lost his receivers. The Panthers are hoping he’ll rebound this year.

Biakabutuka, the team’s top pick the second year, tore up a knee and looked like he’d lost a step last season. He was replaced by Fred Lane, a free-agent rookie who is ahead of him on the depth chart.

Poole, a cornerback, has started for three years, but was beaten often last year and is extraneous now that the team has signed Doug Evans to pair with Eric Davis. Brockermeyer, another first-rounder in 1995, has been a major disappointment at offensive tackle and has complained continually about his role.

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THE MOSS MYSTERY: There’s not a soul who’s seen him play who doesn’t think Randy Moss has immense talent as a wide receiver. But he’s certainly the wildest card in the draft--a player who could be a superstar or a total flop.

So while he’s no worse than the fifth best player in the draft--behind Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf, Andre Wadsworth and Charles Woodson--he won’t go fifth unless Chicago, which has the pick, persuades some team to trade up for him.

The Bears don’t want him and neither do the Rams, who pick sixth. St. Louis has already been burned by Lawrence Phillips, like Moss, a player with off-field problems and a questionable attitude.

Many teams are convinced they have to break Moss of the habit of going less than all-out on plays when he’s not the primary receiver.

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Here’s a scenario.

Dallas drafts eighth and desperately wants a wide receiver to take the heat off Michael Irvin. Moss is available and . . .

More fun at the Cowboys Cafe.


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