The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on August 4, 1991 · 750
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 750

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Location:
Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 4, 1991
Page:
750
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PRO FOOTBALL Ditka embarrassed after 21-7 loss to 49ers ' ' Associated Press AMERICAN BOWL: 49ers running back Dexter Carter is stopped by Bears tackle Ron Rivera in the first half at Berlin Saturday DJ Dozier turns back on football Baseball is future — for now By TIM PANACCIO Knight-Ridder News Service NORFOLK Va — There was a time when Deke Junior Dozier had so much self-confidence he boasted to his father that he would become a three-sport star — baseball football and basketball DJ Dozier was 12 years old then with every reason to believe in himself He did go on to play all three sports in high school in Virginia Beach Va He lettered in basketball and baseball and was all-state in football He then became one of the finest running backs in Penn State history leading Penn State to a Fiesta Bowl victory over the University of Miami and the 1986 national championship With much fanfare was picked in the first round of the National Football League draft by the Minnesota Vikings in 1987 But those days seem long ago and that golden confidence has diminished a little Norfolk is where you find DJ Dozier these days and he's playing baseball This is the home of the Class AAA Tidewater Tides It is also Dozier's home for now "I came here because I had the desire to play baseball again" said the three-sport star who now may be down to one sport "If I make it I'll be glad If I don't I'll know I gave it all I can" From the dugout steps at Met Park Rich Miller Tidewater's baserunning and outfield coach watches the newest Tide during practice and sips water from a paper cup "DJ's out to prove something maybe to himself" Miller said "I guess he wants to make an impact on something in his life He hasn't done it in football Maybe it'll be baseball Either way I hope he finds it" So do the New York Mets who are pulling for the former All-American football player — and unsigned Vikings running back — to make it in baseball In the middle of July the Mets moved Dozier up from their Class AA affiliate in Williamsport Pa to Tidewater In 74 games at Williams-port the outfielder had batted 278 scored 49 runs hit 1 1 doubles six triples and eight home runs driven in 30 runs and stolen 25 bases He also had committed six errors and struck out a team-high 87 times "A year ago I probably would have said the odds were pretty long that DJ would make it in baseball" said Gerry Hunsicker director of baseball operations for the Mets "Now there's an amazing change in his favor It made no sense for us to baby him (We said 'Let's bring him up and see what he can do'" If Dozier 25 is going to reach the majors he has three years in which to do it Hunsicker said The scouting report on him holds that he is strong on talent short on experience The big questions: Can he hit breaking pitches play every day without injury and improve his arm strength? The Mets say that Dozier's arm — he throws right-handed — is below average that he will have to stay in left field His stint with the Tides brings Dozier full circle geographically Virginia Beach where he went to Kempsville High is only 12 miles away from Norfolk After playing three sports at Kempsville he played only football at Penn State During those college years he didn't seem to need other sports Dozier preceded Blair Thomas another all-America as Penn State's premier running back As a pro he was making $550000 a year with Minnesota but his playing time decreased after the Vikings traded for Herschel Walker two years ago "Did they give me a chance in Minnesota?" Dozier said "It's not the greatest system to run the football It's a passing offense We're in the entertainment business and Walker sells tickets" With the Vikings going to a one-back offense for this coming season Brett Senior Dozier's agent asked for a trade The Vikings say they have not offered Dozier a contract Senior said they have decided to try to trade Dozier Senior said the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Raiders have expressed interest in Dozier and the agent believes that Dozier will be back in football — but not with the Vikings — by fall Dozier said he had not given up on a football career but it is clear that baseball is a hedge against an uncertain football future Dave Rosenfield Tidewater's general manager remembers seeing Dozier play baseball at Kempsville He says Dozier was the best prospect the Mets ever scouted in Virginia "He could have signed for $100000" Rosenfield said "If baseball ever had a chance to sign him it ended with Joe Paterno Penn State's football coach When Paterno visited the kid himself I knew it was over" Paterno offered Dozier a scholarship an education and Penn State's track record of sending players to the NFL "It was impossible for me to turn Penn State down" Dozier said "I figured I could play football get an education and maybe play baseball too I could do all three" Dozier's NFL experience has been one long slide from grace His best season with the Vikings was his rookie year in which he rushed 69 times for 257 yards and tied for the club lead with five touchdowns A hip injury caused him to miss seven games in 1988 Since then he has been bothered by minor injuries and has played sparingly In 1989 after his number of rushing attempts dwindled to 46 he asked Senior to call major-league baseball teams "We called every club in baseball" Senior said "Even the Phillies They never heard of Dozier But the Mets were interested" Why would the Mets gamble on a guy who hadn't picked up a bat since From Herald Wire Services Chicago Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh hopes to remember the food the fans and the excitement of a week in Germany What he wants to forget is Saturday's exhibition loss to the San Francisco 49ers Harbaugh completed seven of 14 pass attempts for 77 yards but the Bears got their only touchdown on a reverse as they were defeated 21-7 in Berlin's Olympic Stadium "I had a good time here except for tonight" Harbaugh said "We just didn't do enough good things to win" Bears Coach Mike Ditka also failed to enjoy his evening "We more or less embarrassed ourselves out there today" Ditka said "We didn't execute When we did have people open we didn't throw the ball that well There's a lot of room for improvement" San Francisco Coach George Sei-fert also had some complaints especially with a running game that gained only 25 yards on 13 carries in the first half "As far as the running aspect goes we weren't as effective as we had to be so it's an area that we've got to continue to work on" he said The 49ers were rescued by quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young each of whom threw for a touchdown as San Francisco improved its pre-season record to 2-0 The Bears are 1-1 ROUNDUP Montana threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice and Young had a four-yard scoring toss to San-jay Beach The 49ers also got a two-yard touchdown run from fullback Keith Henderson Chicago's only points came on a 22-yard reverse by wide receiver Glen Kozlowski Montana completed 12 of 18 pass attempts for 136 yards as San Francisco won its first overseas game after exhibition losses in London in 1988 and Tokyo in '89 Young completed nine of 1 1 for 72 yards The game drew 66876 to the stadium in which Jesse Owens destroyed Adolf Hitler's theory of Aryan supremacy as Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics Former East German skating star Katerina Witt tossed the coin before the game but there also was plenty of Americana Hamburgers were sold alongside bratwurst and one concession stand offered Original Amerikanische Chicken Wings mit Barbecue Sauce Late Friday Andre Ware and rookie Cedric Jackson ran for second-quarter touchdowns to lead the Detroit Lions to their sixth consecutive exhibition victory a 24-20 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals at Pon- tiac Mich Ware scored on a 11 -yard keeper to tie the score at 10 Jackson scored on a 15-yard run to put Detroit ahead for good 2:52 before halftime Cincinnati strong safety David Fulcher left the game in a wheelchair after suffering a hip pointer on the last play of the first quarter He did not return Gaston Green ran for 84 yards including a 43-yard TD in barely more than one quarter of action to spark the host Denver Broncos past the Indianapolis Colts 10-3 Green acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in April and replacing holdout Bobby Humphrey in Denver's starting lineup got the game's only TD when he took a pitchout from John Elway off the right side cut left juked defender Keith Taylor and kept his footing across a muddy baseball infield to score with 4:22 left in the opening quarter Lynn lost authority Mike Lynn learned that he was being stripped of his authority before choosing to "resign" as president of the World League of American Football two NFL sources said Lynn was told at the NFL owners' meetings in Dallas on July 1 1 that he wouldn't be in charge of the league's finances in 1992 "He had spent a lot of money the board of directors a group of NFL owners was not aware of" a source said "And he had made 10 different deals with 10 clubs There was no uniformity in what one franchise had to pay and what another one paid He was told at the meetings that all expenses would have to be approved by the board" So Lynn chose to step aside and announced his resignation Lynn said that he -would spend more time with the Minnesota Vikings but a member of that club's board of directors Wheelock Whitney has already said Lynn will have no voice in the club's operations Reasons puzzled Linebacker Gary Reasons is one of several New York Giants puzzled by Bill Parcelis' total disappearance "I was a bit upset he didn't make an effort to come to our "Super Bowl ring ceremony" Reasons said "He obviously was a big part of our success "I didn't understand his motive for not being there When you have a guy who supposedly was a players' coach who just up and goes without addressing the team that's a bit out of character" Washington Redskins left end Charles Mann finally practiced after the arrival of a brace for his right knee but it was a limited workout He has had six operations and some question whether he can make it back to Pro Bowl form His sacks fell from 9l2 to 5 xh last season ' ' ' ' ' '''' SPORTING GESTURE: DJ Dozier of the Class AAA Tidewater Tides signs autographs Dozier is a former first-round pick of the Minne- high school? "D J has that rare combination of speed and power" Hunsicker said In March 1990 Dozier signed a standard minor-league contract — $25000 per year Last season Dozier played 93 games of Class A ball for St Lucie and was named to the Florida State League's all-star squad He also played 29 games for Jackson Miss in the Class AA Texas League He was moved to Williamsport this spring before joining the Tides Going into Tuesday he had played 12 games for Tidewater batting 294 (10 for 34) with two runs batted in "At this point I need to focus on myself and not look who's ahead of me" said Dozier who is ranked by Baseball America as the Mets' fourth-best minor-league prospect "I know I have to fine-tune some things I just want to do what makes me happy Playing baseball makes me happy Next week who knows?" Tidewater Manager Steve Swisher is working with Dozier in the batting cage on identifying pitches With Doner in a batting stance Swisher throws four pitches announcing what each one is Then Swisher throws four more and asks Dozier to identify each sota Vikings "Hitting a baseball isn't as easy as it looks" Dozier said "I can't say this is coming easy to me But I'm getting great instruction and learning as I go on "Being away from the game six months is hard for some guys but being away for five years is a lot tougher There's no pressure here That's something people put on themselves" Dozier hasn't ruled out resuming his football career in September after Tidewater's season ends "A lot depends on what happens here" he said "I'll know what I have to do" His dad Deke is just happy to have his son near home again where he can see him perform He remembers the 12-year-old boy who had so much talent and promise "As a kid he used to say 'Dad some day I'm gonna play three sports'" Deke Dozier said "It's wonderful to see him home again" DJ Dozier may have had headier days as an athlete but none have been more intriguing than the ones he's going through now He is at a pivotal stage He could be in for a short stay with the Tides — one that could take him further up the baseball ladder or send him back into football Or he may be nearing the end of the dream

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