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By the time Patriots coach Bill Parcells had made the fifth
wisecrack of his postgame press conference and before team owner
Bob Kraft had bear-hugged his ninth passerby, rookie wide
receiver Terry Glenn had already disappeared into the cold,
black New England night. Just minutes after the Patriots had
clinched a playoff berth with a 34-10 win over the hapless Jets,
Glenn was walking out of the locker room, up a flight of stairs
and through a side door of Foxboro Stadium, striding
purposefully toward his car.

It's not that Glenn, the seventh pick in the 1996 draft, didn't
have reason to stick around and celebrate. His seven catches
gave him 74 this season, a record for rookie receivers. More
important, the win moved New England, which had started with two
losses, to 10-4 and into first place in the AFC East; with one
more victory the Pats will host a playoff game for only the
second time in franchise history.

It's just that life has taught the 22-year-old Glenn to be wary
of success and just about everything else. Glenn was 13 when his
mother, Denetta, was beaten to death in Columbus, Ohio. He did
not know his father and so was left to bounce between aunts for
nearly two years before a friend's family took him in. A late
academic qualifier, he had to walk on at Ohio State, where he
used his 4.29 speed and his huge hands to snatch up most of the
Buckeyes' receiving records and a six-year, $12 million contract
from New England. "[My mother's death] made me stronger than
most people my age, but it made me different, too," says Glenn.
"I know I can never be totally happy. In the back of my mind I
keep waiting for something bad to happen. Every time something
good has happened, something bad has happened."

A case in point: Shortly after reporting to New England, Glenn
pulled his hamstring, missing most of training camp and the
first week of the season. A frustrated Parcells, still stinging
from the decision by Kraft and director of player personnel
Bobby Grier to choose Glenn rather than a defensive player in
the first round--a move that helps explain why the coach remains
unsigned for 1997--used the injury as a way to question Glenn's
manhood, referring to him as "she." "I've had some tough times
this year, just like everybody else on this team," says Glenn.
"But it's those tough times that are holding us together right
now. We're young, but we've proven we'll fight to the end."

Young and talented, the Patriots definitely are. A Super Bowl
contender? Not this year. Just five of New England's regulars
are older than 27, and only four have started more than one game
in the postseason. Against teams with winning records, the
Patriots are just 3-3, including a 34-8 whitewashing by the
Broncos in Week 12. "This is a team that if it doesn't play
well, it can't beat anybody," said Parcells last Friday. "Three
weeks ago we got knocked out in the first round [by Denver].
I've only had a few teams in my entire coaching career when I
knew it would take a real good team to beat us, and we're not at
that stage yet."

In fact, this is a squad that looks as if it was built from the
same blueprint responsible for the AFC's 12-year Super Bowl
losing streak. The Pats certainly have a high-flyin' offense
with Glenn; Drew Bledsoe, 24, the youngest quarterback ever to
throw for 14,000 yards; and running back Curtis Martin, 23, who,
after carrying 21 times for 94 yards and a touchdown, became
only the 15th player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in
each of his first two seasons. But they can't control the clock,
and their defense ranks No. 23 in the league--two huge strikes
against them in the playoffs. A third strike may have come early
in the second half on Sunday, when 235-pound fullback Sam Gash,
who leads the way for Martin, left the game with a severely
sprained left knee that may keep him out of action for the rest
of the year. Without Gash's power, the Patriots could not run
against the Jets' 24th-ranked D.

Though Parcells did a slow burn as his offense struggled, the
Pats were never in trouble. A 38-yard interception return for a
TD by cornerback Ty Law with 2:24 to play in the third quarter
made the score 27-10 and ultimately sparked the locker-room
celebration that went on for nearly an hour after the game.

But Glenn decided to skip that revelry, perhaps afraid of
jinxing both his and the team's finest hour in '96.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO Martin made it two for two in 1,000-yard rushing seasons, but he may have lost his lead bulldozer. [Curtis Martin and others in game]

COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT TROYANOS [Eddie Kennison in game]

COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES [Mark Brunell in game]

COLOR PHOTO: PHIL HUBER [Ty Detmer in game]



Kansas City has a score to settle, specifically, 10-7. That was
the tally when Indy upset the Chiefs in the '95 divisional
playoffs. To knock off K.C. again, the Colts will need to clamp
down on the two-headed rushing attack of Marcus Allen and Greg


Will New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe and the league's
highest-scoring offense (27.8 points per game) riddle Dallas's
top-rated defense? More likely his counterpart, Troy Aikman,
will bombard a Patriots D that is 28th in sacks and 29th against
the pass.


San Francisco quarterback Steve Young's grueling season
continues with a turn against the AFC's most punishing pass
rush. Fullback William Floyd (two rushes for two yards on
Sunday) must come through if the Niners are to snap Pittsburgh's
11-game winning streak at Three Rivers Stadium.


Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy's young defense, which has given up
the fewest yards per game (259.9) since Week 9, will try to cool
off Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson, who has tossed seven TDs
and zero interceptions in his last two games.


Class of '83 quarterbacks Jim Kelly of Buffalo and Dan Marino of
Miami duel one another for the 21st time in a regular-season
game. Kelly & Co. hold a 14-6 series advantage.



At his current pace of 15.7 yards per punt return, Eddie
Kennison of the Rams is in position to break the Super Bowl-era
rookie record (16.9) set by Denver's Floyd Little in 1969. Like
former Cowboy Bob Hayes, whose 20.8 average in 1968 is the Super
Bowl era's best, Kennison lines up at wide receiver and has a
track pedigree. At LSU, where he once returned a punt 100 yards,
Kennison also ran the opening leg on the Tigers' NCAA champion
4x100 relay team.

Kennison has two TD returns this season, one a 78-yarder. "He
has very good speed, good vision, and he's a big, strong guy
[6-feet, 191 pounds] who's not afraid," says Rams special teams
coach Nick Aliotti. "You combine all those things, and you
probably have the ultimate return man."


FLOYD LITTLE, Denver Broncos '67 16.9
EDDIE KENNISON, St. Louis Rams '96 15.7
DENNIS MORGAN, Dallas Cowboys '74 15.1
JIM BERTELSEN, Los Angeles Rams '72 14.5
LYNN SWANN, Pittsburgh Steelers '74 14.1


America's team? In the last 12 months the NFL has suspended 13
players for drug-abuse infractions. Six of them played for the
Cowboys, including defensive tackle Leon Lett, who has been
suspended twice....Oilers running back Eddie George needs 93
yards to become the fifth rookie to rush for 1,300 yards. The
other four--Earl Campbell, Billy Sims, George Rogers and Barry
Sanders--were all, like George, Heisman Trophy winners....Since
the NFL began awarding byes in 1978, 92 teams have been forced
to play first-round playoff games (excluding the '82 strike
year). Only one, the '80 Oakland Raiders, has won the Super
Bowl....In his previous three seasons, with the Broncos,
Detroit's Glyn Milburn became known as one of the league's
premier multipurpose backs. This year, though he ranks second in
the NFL in kickoff returns (26.7 yard average), Milburn has not
caught one pass or attempted one rush....The Ravens, who have
held a second-half lead in their last nine games, are 2-7 over
that stretch....Packers specialist Desmond Howard is 69 yards
from breaking the record for single-season punt return yardage
(692) set in 1985 by Fulton Walker....If the season ended today
the Redskins would land an NFC wild-card playoff berth despite
being ranked last in the league in defense; since the AFL-NFL
merger in 1970, no team with the NFL's softest D has made the
playoffs....Five alumni of the World League--Brad Johnson
(Vikings), Paul Justin and Kerwin Bell (Colts), Doug Nussmeier
(Saints) and Jamie Martin (Rams)--combined to complete 63 of 96
passes for 632 yards and six TDs, while throwing only one
interception on Sunday. Their aggregate quarterback rating: a
superb 100.7....Seahawks wide receiver Joey Galloway needs 103
yards to become the fourth player, and the first since the
Chargers' John Jefferson in 1978 and '79, to have back-to-back
1,000-yard seasons in his first two years in the league.


This year's two breakthrough quarterbacks--Philadelphia's Ty
Detmer and Jacksonville's Mark Brunell--are close friends who
talk every few weeks during the season and vacation together
with their families during the off-season. They have more than
that in common, though. Since they were teenagers, their careers
have developed along remarkably parallel lines. Take a look:


Earned All-America Father factor Earned All-America
honors under Dave, honors under Sonny,
his high school's AD his high school coach

Washington, '92 College BYU, '90 Heisman
Rose Bowl MVP Trophy winner

Fifth-round pick Drafted Ninth-round pick
of Green Bay in '93 of Green Bay in '92

12 completions Packers career 11 completions

"'94: Was the Is somebody's "'94: Served as
Packers' 2nd QB" media guide Packers' No.2 QB"

In 1995 Courted by In 1996

In 1995 to Jax via Left Lambeau In 1996 to
trade Philly via free

'96 base salary: Bargain '96 base salary:
$800,000 basement $500,000

Average gain per '96 stat line Average gain per
pass attempt: pass attempt:
7.8 yards 7.5 yards

Two, ages one and Kids Two, ages one and
four three

Hunting boars, Off-season Hunting boars,
golfing with Ty highlight golfing with Mark