Family Time Takes on New Meaning for Falcons

Chris Chandler didn’t play for the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, putting a simmer to a family feud that has brewed inside the Georgia Dome.

The dispute apparently started when people in the family section cheered an injury to Chandler the previous weekend, wanting him to be replaced by rookie Michael Vick. Chandler’s wife, Diane, confronted the heckling fans, an argument broke out and someone threw a can at her.

Now, Chandler fears for his wife’s safety and wishes she would stay home when the Falcons are playing at home.

“It’s not real fun for me to know they’re getting hassled for no reason at all,” Chandler said earlier this week.


His wife is the daughter of former NFL star John Brodie.

“She’s a lot like her father,” Chandler said. “She’s pretty tough and has a will of her own, so it’d be hard to keep her away.”

Vick feels caught in the middle and condemned anyone who would cheer an injury.

“It’s kind of annoying sometimes. They start chanting, ‘We want Vick! We want Vick!’ while Chris is out there,” the rookie said. “I can’t run up in the stands and make them shut up.”


Cornerback Ray Buchanan, the team’s most vocal player, said he helped to smooth any ruffled feelings.

“Me being one of the leaders, I was one of the guys who stepped up and talked to a few guys about it,” he said. “One thing I know: We’re not going let it tear this team apart.

“You’ve got your diehard Vick fans, and you’ve got a lot of people who like Chandler. But people shouldn’t take it that far.”

Chandler said he holds little hope that he’ll be fully accepted by the Atlanta fans--especially with Vick around.


“What do you have to do?” Chandler said. “It’s pretty obvious ... the level of respect I’m probably going to get is about what I’ve been getting.”

Getting His Kicks

Because the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t practice in their new stadium, kicker Kris Brown doesn’t get enough time to familiarize himself with his new surroundings.

At Coach Bill Cowher’s suggestion, Brown had a private kicking session at Heinz Field this week.


He took holder Josh Miller and long snapper Mike Schneck with him and tried to boot away the pain of being the first NFL kicker in four years to miss four field goals in a game the week before in a 13-10 loss to Baltimore.

Brown was 11 of 13 this season before the misses and said he’s not going to tinker with mechanics now.

“The first thing you’ve got to do is believe in yourself. You’ve got to go out there believing you’re going to get the job done,” he said. “Nothing needs to be changed. Nothing needs to be looked at and scrutinized. The bottom line is that I didn’t get the job done. It was unfortunate that I cost us the game, but I’ve got to move on.”

He did, kicking five field goals, including the game-winner in overtime, for a 15-12 victory against Cleveland on Sunday.


Future Shock

Winless and looking toward the future, Detroit Lion Coach Marty Mornhinweg insists he has not given up on this season, despite his decision to temporarily bench quarterback Charlie Batch while Mike McMahon, a fifth-round pick from Rutgers, gains some experience.

“We knew we were going to do this clear back to fall camp,” Mornhinweg claimed. “Honestly, we were going to do this regardless of what our record was.”

Just like the 7-1 St. Louis Rams probably are ready to panic because their No. 3 quarterback Marc Bulger has yet to see the field, let alone throw a pass.


Batch said he doesn’t necessarily agree with Mornhinweg’s decision to play McMahon, but he understands it.

“We are [winless], so he’s going to try to get younger guys playing time,” Batch said. “Why wouldn’t you?”

McMahon threw one pass Sunday and it fell incomplete. Batch was 21 for 39 for 239 yards. Guess the experience can wait after all.

Retirement Plan


Flaky Denver Bronco receiver Eddie Kennison shocked his coach and teammates by announcing he was retiring the night before Sunday’s game against San Diego.

“He said his heart was not in it and he wanted to retire,” Bronco Coach Mike Shanahan said. “I’ve never had a guy retire the night before a game. It caught me by surprise.”

Shanahan said Kennison, 28, can’t return to the team.

Kennison, who was in his sixth NFL season, also played for St. Louis, New Orleans and Chicago and ruffled feathers and burned bridges with his mopey attitude at times, especially with then Saint coach Mike Ditka.


Shanahan was upset that Kennison quit after taking part in all of last week’s practices.

“To do that the night before the game is something that is inexcusable,” Shanahan said. “I’m very disappointed in the way it happened. Obviously, we move on.”

Ironman Shelved

Seattle Seahawk defensive tackle John Randle was listed as inactive for Sunday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders because of a sprained left knee.


It was the first game he has missed in his 12-year NFL career.

Randle, 33, had played in all 183 games in his career, including 140 consecutive starts.

“It’s a pretty good streak,” Randle said earlier this week. “It’s not a Cal Ripken thing, but it’s a nice little something I have going.”



Compiled by Jim Barrero