The NFL's Trials
As the trial of Freeman McNeil v. The National Football League resumed this week, things were not looking very good for the league. While the lawyers for McNeil and the seven other player-plaintiffs are arguing that NFL players should have the right to free agency, the owners' lawyers are trying to convince the Minneapolis jury that free agency would do serious economic damage to a league that netted $330 million over the past two seasons.
The trial's outcome may well hinge on the testimony of two expert witnesses, one for the players, Roger Noll of the Stanford Business School, and one for the owners, George Daly of the University of Iowa's College of Business Administration. Noll was persuasive on the stand three weeks ago, stating that free agency would not harm the league's economic well-being. A week later Daly testified that free agency would spell economic ruin for the NFL.
Toward the end of his scorching cross-examination, players' attorney Jeff Kessler asked Daly if he knew Bill Windauer. Windauer, who played 19 games for four NFL teams in the mid-'70s, has been the director of development for the Iowa business school since 1983. "Yes, of course I know Windauer," said Daly. He had hired Windauer and is now Windauer's boss. "Do you remember telling Mr. Windauer in a conversation in a car on a business trip that free agency would not damage the NFL?" Kessler asked. "I do not," Daly replied, shaking his head, his face reddening. "I never said that."
If the players' lawyers call Windauer to the stand to further discredit Daly, the owners' lawyers would undoubtedly try to undermine his testimony by suggesting that he has an ax to grind. They would point to a lawsuit in which Windauer sued the Miami Dolphins, the last team he played on, for disability benefits. Windauer, along with two other players, lost, but if events in Minneapolis continue to develop the way they have so far, McNeil et al. probably won't.
After the Hurricane
Hurricane Andrew ravaged South Florida last week, but though teams were inconvenienced, facilities damaged and coaches' and players' houses destroyed, the sports world was, on the whole, very fortunate.
•The Cleveland Indians' new spring training complex in Homestead—the city hardest hit by the storm—was devastated. Although the Indians, who have trained in Arizona for the past 46 years, still hope to work out in Homestead next spring, it will cost about $10 million to repair the facility.
The city of Cleveland is chipping in to rebuild Homestead. "Their support has been overwhelming," says Homestead city manager Alex Muxo. "It's as though they consider Homestead their second home."
•The Dolphins, who were scheduled to open their season on Sunday at Joe Robbie Stadium against the New England Patriots, had the game postponed until Oct. 18, when both teams had an open date. The stadium is usable, but it is needed as a base for relief organizations. Its concession machines are producing 35,000 pounds of ice per day for people who have no electricity.
Dolphin linebacker John Offerdahl, who owns three bagel stores in Broward County, worked through the night of Aug. 25 baking bagels to be given to people in Dade County. And quarterback Dan Marino and two dozen other Dolphins spent Sunday delivering goods to storm victims.
•After canceling practice for three days, the University of Miami football team moved its workouts to Vero Beach, 100 miles north of Miami. The team will practice there at least until it leaves for its season opener at Iowa on Saturday.
The storm destroyed the homes of four Miami coaches, and three players from Homestead were unable to join the team until last weekend. Freshman defensive lineman Marvin Davis, who is also from Homestead, was unable to locate his mother and two sisters until four days after the storm.
The Fight Goes On
Last week the NHL's board of governors trumpeted what it described as its new policy of getting tough with brawlers. Instead, the governors should have hung their heads in shame. At their meeting on Aug. 25, rather than adopt a tough measure that called for any player involved in a fight to be ejected from the game, the governors settled for a milder rule that calls for any player instigating a fight to be ejected.
Until now a player instigating a fight was subject to a two-minute penalty that was tacked on to a five-minute penalty for brawling. But in only 26% of the 772 fights in the league last season was an instigator identified—usually because officials could not determine who had started the fight. If anything, the NHL's so-called get-tough policy may result in even fewer penalties: With instigators facing ejection, officials may be reluctant to invoke the penalty.
Marino (right) and his teammates handed out food and supplies.
DAVID E. KLUTHO
In the NHL, fighting is still in.
They Said It
Yogi Berra, after Milwaukee Brewer manager Phil Garner told him that he had said a Yogi-ism: "What's a Yogi-ism?"