The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 3, 1997 · Page 60
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December 3, 1997

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 60

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Wednesday, December 3, 1997
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THE PALM BEACH POST WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3. 1997 5C ' Pro football Baseball Aikman to play Monday despite bad thumb B Pittsburgh Steelers: Linebacker; Greg Lloyd will miss at least one more t game with a staph infection in his ankle. Steelers coach Bill Cowher said there is no sign Lloyd's injury is nearly that bad, J even though the five-time Pro Bowl line-1 backer has been hospitalized for almost a week. ' "I've not been led to believe that,".' said Cowher, who was asked if Lloyd's' injury is far worse than the Steelers previously let on. "He's taking antibiotics 3 ... and he's week-to-week." Lloyd, who has been hospitalized for; almost a week, missed the Steelers' 26-20 overtime victory last Sunday at Arizona j and also won't play in Sunday's pivotal J AFC game against Denver. BSan Francisco 49ers: Said All-; Pro receiver Jerry Rice will participate ir.j limited practice today, returning fromj what doctors said could have been a season-ending injury. Rice, the NFL's all-time leading re-' ceiver, tore the anterior cruciate ligament 1 and medial collateral ligaments in his lefts knee during the first half of San Francisco's 13-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Bucca--neers on Aug. 31. Buccaneers, who trail Green Bay by a game. And if Minnesota can defeat the 49ers at San Francisco Sunday, Green Bay will have the inside track for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. San Francisco (1 1-2) has a one-game lead over Green Bay (10-3) for the NFC's best record. After their wobbly play early in the season and a huge upset loss to Indianapolis 2Vi weeks ago, the Packers again look ready to prove they're the NFL's best. "I think we're starting to jell," safety Eugene Robinson said. "Last year was somewhat different, but with the effort we're putting forth the last couple weeks, it sure feels like last year." B Minnesota Vikings: Quarterback Brad Johnson has a herniated disc in his neck and is scheduled to see a neurosurgeon today, threatening his status not only for Sunday's game against San Francisco but for the rest of the season. B New York Jets: Signed Deron Thorp, a 6-foot-8, 330-pound tackle, from the New York Giants' practice squad. Thorp spent last spring with the Barcelona Dragons of the World League. Palm Beach Post Wire Services IRVING, Texas The last thing the Dallas Cowboys wanted to hear Tuesday was a bad injury report on quarterback Troy Aikman. But that's what they got. "Our trainer (Jim Maurer) is concerned right now because Troy has a very swollen right thumb," Dallas coach Barry Switzer said. "He will play (Monday against Carolina) but he might not practice. It's going to be day-to-day just like his back spasms." Switzer said Aikman hurt his thumb sometime during the 27-14 loss to Tennessee on Thanksgiving Day. "Troy kept looking down at his hand," Switzer said. "We were wondering about it." Aikman barely made the kickoff because of back spasms during the warmup. He rushed from the locker room to the field just in time for the Cowboys' first possession after the Oilers had punted. He then threw an interception, one of three during the day. While Aikman will likely play, corner-back Deion Sanders, who has a fractured right rib, is doubtful. "Deion probably won't play," Switzer ;d FSps file L PHILLIPS A chronology of running back Lawrence Sept 10, 1995: Phillips, a star junior running back at Nebraska, is arrested in Lincoln. Police say Phillips climbed to the third-floor apartment of quarterback Scott Frost and found his ex-girlfriend, Kate McEwen, a sophomore basketball player, inside the apartment. "Allegedly, he was dragging her and hitting her in the apartment or hallway," Police Lt. Kent Woodhead said. Sept 19, 1995: Pleads no contest to misdemeanor charges of trespassing and assault. A third charge, damaging property, was dropped. Dec. 5, 1995: Sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to attend a domestic-violence prevention class and I VA2I They Said "I don't believe there is a down side to Lawrence Phillips. You just have to clear that picture up for yourself, and that is what we are in the process of doing." - Jets Personnel Director Dick Haley in 1996, when New York was considering drafting Phillips with the No. 1 pick. J z: C problerrfO said. "We would like to think he could run around fast and stick one arm in there. But he's having difficult breathing, sneezing and laughing. He's in a lot of pain. I know about those things. I had one." Later Tuesday in Fort Worth, Switzer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge and was assessed a $3,500 fine and one year deferred adjudication. He also agreed to serve 80 hours of public service. Switzer was arrested carrying a loaded pistol in his luggage at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport en route to training camp this summer. B Green Bay Packers: Even as defending NFL champions, the Green Bay Packers are on a mission to prove themselves. First, they trounced Dallas 10 days ago, the Packers' first win in eight tries against their longtime playoff nemesis. Then, they beat Minnesota 27-11 Monday night, coach Mike Holmgren's first road victory over the Vikings. Next up, a shot at winning the NFC Central title again, which the Packers could accomplish with another road win this weekend against the Tampa Bay pay $359 in restitution. Also, is still barred from contact with McEwen. Dec. 26, 1995: Three-month suspension from the Cornhuskers ends when coach Tom Osborne announces Phillips will start against Florida in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship. Jan. 2, 1996: Rushes for 165 yards and two touchdowns and catches a TD pass as Nebraska beats Florida 62-24 for the national title. Jan. 9, 1996: Announces he will leave Nebraska early for the NFL Aug. 16, 1996: McEwen sues Phillips, , accusing him of beating, threatening and sexually assaulting her during a two-year relationship at Nebraska. The lawsuit says Phillips beat and threatened McEwen repeatedly, only to reconcile later. June 13, 1996: Is arrested in Los Angeles County after police saw Phillips speeding in a gold Mercedes-Benz with a flat tire. According to court reports, Phillips' blood-alcohol level was reported as 0.16. June 17, 1996: Misdemeanor drunken-driving charges are filed against Phillips. He is charged with driving under the influence with an .08 percent or higher blood-alcohol level. "Whoever drafts him, there will be women out there picketing. But do we get paid to win games or to have nice people around?" - Ravens director of personnel Ozzie Newsome before the 1996 draft. "I'm ready to move on, try to get in the NFL and do the best I can. I feel pretty comfortable about my anger and the way I'm going to control myself." - Phillips before the draft. July 4, 1996: Pleads innocent to misdemeanor drunken driving in Los Angeles. Jury 30, 1996: Signs a unique three-year, pay-as-you-play contract with the St. Louis Rams of the NFL Because of his off-field problems, the Rams insist that Phillips earn his pay ala carte. His $5,625 million deal includes zero bonus money. Sept 5, 1996: A county attorney in Lincoln, Neb., asks a judge to revoke Phillips' probation and resentence him for the September '95 assault of McEwen. Lancaster County Attorney Gary Lacey says Phillips might have violated his probation order in June when he was arrested in California on suspicion of drunken driving. Sept. 26, 1996: Settles the lawsuit filed against him by McEwen after a federal judge in Kansas City, Mo., decided to make the lawsuit a public record. The judge also criticized Nebraska's handling of the episode. Dec. 23, 1996: Pleads no contest to the Los Angeles drunken-driving charge and placed on probation for three years. Feb. 16, 1997: Is arrested and ticketed for disorderly conduct after a disturbance at an Omaha, Neb., hotel. Police "There's going to be negative reaction because of what he's done. Not everybody will like him, until they see him play." - Tom Braatz, Dolphins Director of College Scouting, before the draft. "When coach Vermeil came here, he got a lot of criticism for not coming down hard on Lawrence. Some said, 'If you're such a taskmaster, you should get rid of Lawrence Phillips.' That would have been the dumbest thing in the world. He's handled Marlins see new places next season By Dan Graziano Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Five teams will make their first visits to South Florida next season, i as expansion and realignment add ! three teams to the schedule and interleague play enters another sea-! son. ' . The Florida Marlins hope to re-r lease their 1998 schedule by the end of the week, but several other teams ;! have released theirs. From that in-' formation, some things are known about who the defending World Se-i ries champs will play. HThe expansion Tampa Bay . Devil Rays, managed by former Marlins pitching coach Larry Rothschild, will play the Marlins in a four-game, home-and-home interleague series June 22-25. The first two games will be in St. Petersburg on June 22 and v23, and the next two will be in Miami on June 24 and 25. D The Boston Red Sox and To-ronto Blue Jays will visit South Flori-da for interleague series in 1998. v The New York Yankees and Balti-t more Orioles will host interleague series against the champs. The Red Sox will play at Pro Player Stadium on June 26-28. The Milwaukee Brewers, who ;r moved to the National League from ; the American League, will play at ; Pro Player Stadium April 3-6, in the ' second series of the season. ; BThe Brewers and the expan-; sion Arizona Diamondbacks both will be regulars on the Florida schedule as the newest members of the NL. Trade winds: Talks aimed at ; trading Gary Sheffield to the New York Mets broke down last week after the teams couldn't agree on the amount of Sheffield's salary the Mar-' lins were to pay. The Mets wanted as ' much as $24 million of the contract's total value of $61 million. And be-' cause of the size of the deal and the lack of interested teams, it looks , more likely Sheffield will open the , 1998 season as a Marlin. , The Marlins still are trying to trade starting pitchers Al Leiter and ! Kevin Brown, as well as relief pitcher Dennis Cook, but those deals are all on hold for a variety of reasons. a If Florida trades Brown and I Leiter, that would leave Livan Iler-;5 nandez as the only returning starting - pitcher from 1997. l The San Diego Padres want Brown as a top-of-the-line starter to compete in the ever-improving NL A West. The Marlins have asked the s Padres for Rafael Medina and Matt ' Clement, two top right-handed pros-f pects, but the Padres don't want to l deal both of them. Other teams interested in Brown 1 include the St. Louis Cardinals, who backed off an earlier deal for reasons ' similar to San Diego's, and the Colo- rado Rockies. Colorado is trying to i sign Houston free agent Darryl Kile, and if it does, Houston would be-1 come interested in Brown. If the Rockies don't sign Kile, they could offer the Marlins a package deal that includes right-hander Jamey Wright and 22-year-old outfield prospect Derrick Gibson. The Marlins had Leiter traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Esteban Yan, but Yan got picked by the Devil ' Rays in the expansion draft. The Rays are trying to land a top starter, and with their offer to free agent Wilson Alvarez having been laughed . at by agent Scott Boras, they may be looking into trades. They could have Leiter if they would trade Yan. Other teams interested in Leiter include San Francisco, which has little left to deal, and Baltimore, which already may have blown its chance. Rockies' Castilla gets $24 million deal The Associated Press DENVER Vinny Castilla, who had been eligible for free agency following the 1998 season, agreed Tuesday to a $24 million, four-year contract with the Colorado Rockies. Castilla gets a $1 million signing bonus, $4.5 million in 1998, $5.5 million in 1999, $6 million in 2000 and $7 million in 2001. Marlins fifth in salary: The average salary increased 19.3 percent to a record $1,336,609 last season. The Yankees were No. 1 at a record $2,303,437. Baltimore was second at $2,205,890, with Cleveland at $1,912,062 and Atlanta at $1,817,543. The world champion Marlins, 19th in 1996 at $842,729, rose to fifth at $1,793,766. But the Marlins have traded Moises Alou, Devon White, Robb Nen and Jeff Conine since winning the World Series. B New York Yankees: The New York Times reported that the Yankees and free agent Chili Davis are close to a contract agreement. B Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The Devil Rays will open their innaugural season March 31 at home against Detroit. found Phillips with five other men and several women having a party. Police said Phillips "started getting belligerent with the officers, cursing and yelling, and it got to the point where we had to arrest him." Feb. 20, 1997: Two people at the party with Phillips file lawsuits in Omaha, Neb., accusing him of assault, battery and false imprisonment Feb. 22, 1997: Charged with property damage, leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a revoked license. Police said he drove his HumVee into a 5-foot tall pillar at the entrance to his Forest Hills Country Club neighborhood in west St Louis County on Jan. 30. March 10, 1997: Pleads innocent to a disorderly conduct charge in Lincoln, Neb. March 11, 1997: Sentenced to 30 days in jail in Lincoln, Neb., for violating probation. He serves 23 days because of good behavior. Nov. 20, 1997: Waived by the Rams, a day after missing a team meeting and practice. Dec. 2, 1997: Signs two-year contract with Dolphins. Lawrence in a super way. He's given him a chance, and Lawrence has responded. He's been a pleasure to work with." - Rams offensive coordinator Jerry Rhome in training camp last summer. "I'd love to see him go to the Miami Dolphins. Jimmy Johnson would be good for him. He'd be in contrast to me." - Dick Vermiel, the week after releasing Phillips. ROB BARGESlaff Artist Vermeil was asked if the former sixth pick in the draft likely found this experience jolting. "If it's not, the next thing is electrocution or castration, something," he said. "It's got to be. I know Jimmy will not spend much time. He'll (Phillips) either do it, or he'll be gone." Phillips apparently has redeeming traits. While a Ram, he bought a schoolbus for disadvantaged children, and bought 12 season tickets for two youth groups. Even after his release, he called to ensure their attendance at the Rams' Nov. 30 game. Phillips mostly kept to himself, but a few Rams, including quarterback Tony Banks, spoke on his behalf after his release. Now the Dolphins are his teammates. One veteran Miami player, at the facility Tuesday on his off day, said the team was talking more about the next game than about Phillips. He asked if Phillips had been signed. "I hope it works out for him, because. I think he can help us," said another player, who preferred anonymity. "But I don't want to babysit." B Tickets available: There are about 6,500 tickets remaining for Sunday's 8 p.m. game with the Detroit Lions. Because the cable network ESPN is telecasting the game, it will be blacked out only within 35 miles of Pro Player Stadium, so Palm Beach County will see the game regardless. no film at 1 1 sage to society should consider the alter native. How does society benefit from receive ing a Lawrence Phillips, turned loose with his troubles? If Johnson can help him fix himself, then the benefits will affect more than the football world. The downside risks are really minimal. Johnson has insisted, after all, that this is the 53rd player on a 53-man roster. The greatest peril belongs to Phillips, himself, and the hone is he will realize that. T Phillips' second year salary in Miami incentive driven 4 PHILLIPS From 1C assessment of Dolphins tight end and former Phillips' teammate Troy Drayton that Phillips tuned out the Rams' "rehabilitation" efforts. Of Phillips' visits to anger management counselors, psychologists and the like, Feldman said, "That consumed his day, that's all it did." According to Feldman, Phillips will benefit from Johnson's direct approach: you play by my rules, or you're gone. Johnson, however, has shown a propensity to bend if he believes a player can help him. Charles Jordan and Lamar Thomas, both of whom have erred on Johnson's watch, are still in Miami, and recently productive. For Phillips to be productive, he must be healthy, and at the right weight. Two weeks off have helped heal his lingering turf toe, but he is still a few pounds over his ideal weight of 225. He was given an "F" by the Rams' training staff, is known for his fondness for food, and he has a chronically puffy knee, though that might benefit from a switch to a grass home field. Dick Vermeil, the Rams' coach, expressed fondness for a player he gave up on. Vermeil played phone tag with Johnson last week, and ultimately spoke with Running back M0FFETT From 1C unless someone else's ground game goes bust, of course. Maybe it was best for everyone that Lawrence Phillips did not pose for his signing that the first glimpse of him as a Dolphin will be working at practice today. Nothing he can say will satisfy Johnson or his detractors, who are many. It all comes down to performance now. Words mean nothing. How he conducts 1996 FILE PHOTO Lawrence Phillips helped Nebraska trounce Florida in the Fiesta Bowl after being declared eligible to play by coach Tom Osborne the week before. Dolphins defensive coordinator George told of Phillips' signing. "I'm pleased. He I lill. Vermeil also spoke with Mike I lolm- deserves another chance. I think that's all gren, whose Green Bay Packers were he needs. I've said all along I expect him interested. to excel, if not right away, then next "Super," Vermeil said Tuesday when year." 1 J with Miami, this great experiment in upside potential. Whether you agree with his decision to try Phillips, you must allow that no coach is better qualified for such a project. Again, the Dallas Cowboys were thought to be an unusually athletic Kiwanis Club until Johnson left and Barry Switzer took over and all hell broke loose. If Phillips cannot reinvent himself under Johnson, then it likely cannot be done. Those who criticize the coach for being permissive, or sacrificing principle in the quest to win, or sending the wrong mes Phillips signs himself as a player and, more imortant, how he conducts himself as a citizen will determine how he is judged and whether he can be accepted. Johnson, before offering him a job, told Phillips the conditions of his hiring: No special treatment. No baby-sitter. No exceptions. One mistake and the deal is over. If Phillips is not a model Dolphin, he will not be a Dolphin at all. That is how Johnson is appioaching

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