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Original Issue



When the 1996 NFL schedule came out in May, Fox-TV figured it
had the game of the year on Oct. 27: Cowboys-Dolphins.
Jerry-Jimmy. Aikman-Marino.

It's still a nice game, but Rupert Murdoch didn't pay almost
$1.6 billion in 1993 to televise nice games. Nate Newton, that
Southern philosopher who doubles as the Cowboys' left guard, put
the game in perspective on Sunday, after the Cowboys had
expended another of their nine lives in a 32-28 win over the
Falcons. "We're 4-3, the Dolphins are 4-3," he said. "What's so
gigantic about two 4-3 teams playing? Right now we're two
wild-card teams." Even that's a stretch.

Miami's three losses have come in the last four games; the
Cowboys are still underwhelming the opposition, particularly on
offense. Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson, divorced from the Cowboys
and owner Jerry Jones in March 1994, hasn't taken any shots at
his former boss in months, and vice versa. Through Sunday's
games Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman was the league's 11th-rated
passer, on the league's 25th-rated offense; for his part,
Miami's Dan Marino is expected to start against the Cowboys
after sitting out the last three games with a fractured right

Five months ago who would have thought the first Jerry-Jimmy
Bowl would be such a low-key affair? These guys used to go out
of their way to knock each other when they were on the same
team, but they zipped lips after their games on Sunday.
Following the Dolphins' 35-28 loss to the Eagles, Johnson
refused to discuss the impending showdown. Maybe he was miffed
about the four touchdown passes that Philadelphia wideout Irving
Fryar caught against his former team. (An unrestricted free
agent, Fryar signed with the Eagles in the off-season.) Or
perhaps it was the 173 yards rushing that Eagles back Ricky
Watters piled up. Meanwhile, Jones, after a peculiar day at
Texas Stadium, ducked all interviews for the first time in memory.

It's not unusual to see Jones on the sideline late in Dallas
games, uncannily positioned in camera range as he glad-hands
players. However, he made an early appearance against the
Falcons. After Aikman was creamed on a play in the first half, a
victim of poor blocking from the left side of his line, Jones
had a word with coach Barry Switzer. Then Jones walked over to
Aikman and said, "We're going to try to get you some blocking
help on that side." In the third quarter Jones helped restrain
Cowboys wideout Michael Irvin from venturing onto the field
while yelling at the team's defense. Jones even toweled himself
off at one point. Said linebacker Darrin Smith, "Jerry was just
very intense, very excited."

Kind of like Johnson used to be on the same sideline. Maybe in
his new role Jones can give his team some oomph.


In the wake of the long-anticipated firing of Bengals coach Dave
Shula on Monday, the organization's next step should be to hire
an experienced pro football executive to run the personnel and
scouting departments. But Cincinnati fans shouldn't hold their

Even before Shula was dismissed, Bengals president and general
manager Mike Brown sounded like a man who was prepared to stay
the course. "I don't plan to change," said Brown, the pilot of
the franchise since the 1991 death of his father, football
legend Paul Brown. "I plan to run this team the way we have run
it. There are up and down years in this business, and I firmly
believe we'll come out of it."

Down years, yes. But a down decade? With their 28-21 loss to the
49ers on Sunday, the Bengals, at 31-72, have the NFL's worst
record this decade, even after winning the AFC Central in 1990.
Interim coach Bruce Coslet, who served as offensive coordinator
under Shula, inherits a 1-6 team whose problems can largely be
traced to an offense that ranks 26th in the league. But there's
more to the coaching change than that. To trigger construction
on a proposed football-only stadium, the organization must sell
50,000 season tickets, including 40,000 personal-seat licenses;
80 luxury boxes; and 6,000 club seats by April 30. If this
massive sales effort fails, Brown may consider a move 235 miles
northeast. Cleveland, after all, is the city his father put on
the football map.

In the meantime, the best move Brown could make would be to
surrender his G.M. duties. Ken Herock, vice president of player
personnel with the Falcons, might be available at season's end;
former Browns player personnel director Mike Lombardi is also

Brown thinks much of scouting is duplication of work done by
leaguewide scouting services. Also, because coaches must work
with the collegians the organization signs, he believes it's an
advantage to have the coaches double as scouts. But he would do
well to rethink his system and hire an experienced scouting
staff to lighten the load on his coaches.


--The Jaguars outgained the Rams 538 yards to 204, had a 36-8
advantage in first downs, did not punt and controlled the ball
for more than 41 minutes. They also lost, 17-14.

--Despite a nagging groin injury, 49ers quarterback Steve Young
outrushed his running backs 45 yards to 33 in rallying the 49ers
over the Bengals.


The resignation of Saints coach Jim Mora, announced only hours
after Shula's dismissal, made for an unusual day. Until Monday,
in the past five years only one coach--the Oilers' Jack Pardee
in 1994--was replaced during the season. Mora's downfall? He
stubbornly stuck with offensive coordinator Carl Smith....
Remember the gloom in Carolina last month after the Panthers
lost rookie back Tim Biakabutuka for the season with a knee
injury? Understandable, because stand-in Anthony Johnson hadn't
had a 100-yard rushing game since his senior year in high
school, in 1985. In the three games since Biakabutuka went down,
Johnson has rushed for 102, 126 and 123 yards.


Dolphins wideout Fred Barnett caught two passes for 27 yards
against the Eagles on Sunday, 11 weeks after a body part from a
cadaver was used to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in
his right knee.

COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER Fryar burned his old teammate Terrell Buckley for one of his four TD catches. [Irving Fryar catching football in front of Terrell Buckley]


In a poll of G.M.'s and scouts for SI's annual midseason All-Pro
team, 16 of the 17 respondents made the Packers' Brett Favre the
closest thing to a unanimous pick. Jerry Rice (above) was named
on 14 ballots. More interesting, two defensive players--the
49ers' Bryant Young and the Steelers' Chad Brown--are stepping
from the shadows into stardom. Here are the results (votes in


WR-- JERRY RICE, 49ers (14) ; HERMAN MOORE, Lions (12)
TE-- SHANNON SHARPE, Broncos (10)
T-- WILLIAM ROAF, Saints (8) ; Erik Williams, Cowboys (6)
G-- LARRY ALLEN, Cowboys (13) ; STEVE WISNIEWSKI, Raiders (6)
C-- DERMONTTI DAWSON, Steelers (15)
QB-- BRETT FAVRE, Packers (16)
RB-- TERRELL DAVIS, Broncos (7.5)
FB-- LARRY CENTERS, Cardinals (7)


DE-- BRUCE SMITH, Bills (15); REGGIE WHITE, Packers (8)
DT-- BRYANT YOUNG, 49ers (9); SEAN GILBERT, Redskins (8)
OLB-- DERRICK THOMAS, Chiefs (10); CHAD BROWN, Steelers (6)
MLB-- JUNIOR SEAU, Chargers (8)
CB-- DALE CARTER, Chiefs (13); DEION SANDERS, Cowboys (6)
FS-- MERTON HANKS, 49ers (7)
SS-- (Tie) BLAINE BISHOP, Oilers; CARNELL LAKE, Steelers (4)


P-- DARREN BENNETT, Chargers (7)
K-- (Tie) JOHN KASAY, Panthers; JOHN CARNEY, Chargers (6)
Returns-- MEL GRAY, Oilers (5)
Special teams-- JOHN HENRY MILLS, Oilers (4)


MVP-- FAVRE (13)
Coach-- BILL COWHER, Steelers (8)
Offensive coordinator-- SHERMAN LEWIS, Packers (6)
Defensive coordinator-- DICK LEBEAU, Steelers (4)
Offensive rookie-- EDDIE GEORGE, Oilers (15.5)
Defensive rookie-- ZACH THOMAS, Dolphins (5)
Executive- RON WOLF, Packers (6)