Ryan smiles as Jackson slams Eagles management

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Only Buddy Ryan can stir up a controversy simply by smiling.

The Philadelphia Eagles' rambunctious coach can do as much by smiling as Jerry Glanville does when he calls Jack Pardee a jerk.

The advantage is that Ryan doesn't have to worry about getting any letters from commissioner Paul Tagliabue threatening a fine. How can you fine a man for smiling?

Ryan's smile spoke volumes, though, when tight end Keith Jackson ended his holdout Wednesday night.

Ryan first alerted reporters that Jackson was arriving that night to end his holdout, even though the front office was telling reporters Jackson wouldn't arrive until Thursday.

When Jackson arrived, he said, "I came in here with the idea of taking [owner] Norman Braman and [team president] Harry Gamble over the coals."

Jackson said Ryan talked him out of it, but he then proceeded to do it anyway. He said Eagles management cares nothing about winning.

Ryan, at the back of the room, simply smiled -- a smile that sent a message he was agreeing with Jackson, who said: "I'm back for the team and Coach Ryan. I heard rumors that there was some conspiracy going on upstairs to get Coach Ryan fired. I figured if I come in and we win, there's no way they can get rid of him."

Of course, there's been a lot of talk in Philadelphia about Ryan getting fired. Not because of any conspiracy, but because the team is 0-2 and could be 0-3 after playing the Los Angeles Rams today.

But Ryan hasn't lost any of the bluster despite the setbacks. He's still taking on the front office.

Meanwhile, Jackson's agent, Gary Wichard, handled the heavy artillery. He called Braman an "egomaniac" and "the same loser and fraud he's always been."

Braman hasn't fired back. When he was asked about Ryan's status, he said he didn't want to talk about it except to say, "It's not how you start, but how you finish."

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Now that Jackson's in camp, the six remaining veteran holdouts are Bobby Hebert of the New Orleans Saints, Frank Minnifield of the Cleveland Browns, Jesse Solomon of the Dallas Cowboys, Rick Graf of the Miami Dolphins and Rich Karlis and D.J. Dozier of the Minnesota Vikings.

Dozier is taking a fling at baseball.

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The Indianapolis Colts are on the verge of another crisis.

The rumors are starting to swirl that coach Ron Meyer is on his way out.

Unless the Colts upset 0-2 Houston today, they may be looking at an 0-9 start because they play the Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Dolphins, New York Giants and New England Patriots the next six games.

Mike White, the former Illinois coach who is now an assistant with the Los Angeles Raiders, is being mentioned as a replacement for Meyer, who made sure he didn't hire any obvious successors when he put his staff together.

The Colts drew only 49,256 to their home opener and Bill Benner, an Indianapolis Star columnist who often criticizes the team, called them "bums" and a "collection of mismanaged losers" and added, "The good citizens of Baltimore don't know how well-off they are."

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Eric Dickerson, the Colts' suspended running back, didn't get any satisfaction at his hearing Monday before Tagliabue, although he argued he shouldn't have been sidelined for six weeks by the team.

One of Tagliabue's aides told Dickerson and general manager Jim Irsay that he'd prefer it if the two sides settled it themselves.

Since the impasse remains, Tagliabue eventually may be forced to hand down a ruling. He held a hearing for Clarence Kay of the Broncos several weeks ago and has yet to make a ruling.

Unless Tagliabue rules otherwise, Dickerson won't be eligible to return until after the trading deadline. The Colts then presumably would have to decide whether to take him back or cut him.

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The owners will meet Tuesday in New York to decide whether to approve the new three- to five-player practice squad that was negotiated by Tagliabue with attorney Joseph Yablonski, who represented the developmental squad players in a lawsuit against last year's $1,000-a-game salary.

Tagliabue seemed to have the votes to pass the measure when the clubs were in favor, 24-4, in an electronic vote last week.

It seems to be a good move for the league because the teams can use the practice players.

But there was enough grumbling by the teams that Tagliabue decided to call a meeting to discuss the matter.

Some owners fear they would be seen as caving in by giving the players a minimum of $3,000 a game because they recently offered them $2,000 a game and were turned down. The agreement also didn't settle the lawsuit about the 1989 players, so they may get money, too.

Not all the leaders of the National Football League Players Association like the agreement, either, because the limit of between $225,000 and $325,000 for the three to five players sets an informal salary cap.

But the agents for the players put heavy pressure on the NFLPA to get a deal because it means between 82 and 140 jobs.

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If the proposal passes, Charley Casserly, the Washington Redskins general manager, said he'd sign five players.

But it really would help the Redskins for only a week because the five players they put on injured reserve after the 47-man roster was set are eligible to start practicing after the fourth week of the season. No more than five practice or IR players can work in the drills.

The IR players aren't supposed to practice the first four weeks, but it may not have been a coincidence that coach Joe Gibbs closed practices to members of the media the first two weeks, then announced last week he was closing them for two more weeks through the fourth week of the season.

Although the NFL remains officially committed to expanding by only two teams in 1993, there was some support for a four-team package when the committee on expansion and realignment met a week ago in New York. There was even support mentioned for a six-team expansion, although that's considered very unlikely.

In the next step, the committee will make a report to the owners at their Oct. 16 meeting in Chicago. The committee is likely to meet again the day before that meeting.

The committee members also will attempt to get input from the rest of the owners on expansion, including whether they favor two or four teams.

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Buffalo is having trouble living down its "Bickering Bills" nickname. Coach Marv Levy made an attempt this year to stop the players from popping off to members of the media.

"We set up certain guidelines for them and goals in terms of talking to the media. We told them to be positive," he said.

Levy apparently forget to advise them not to argue with him on the sidelines.

When Levy yanked his starters with 7 minutes, 34 seconds left during the 30-7 loss to the Dolphins last week, defensive end Bruce Smith got into an argument with him, and three other players, Leonard Smith, Nate Odomes and Kirby Jackson, were slow getting off the field.

They felt Levy was giving up, but he felt he was lessening the chance of injury to his starters.

Bruce Smith was fined $500 and Leonard Smith, Odomes and Jackson each were fined $100.

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Statistic to remember for all the 0-2 teams: No team has started 0-2 and gone to the Super Bowl, and only one team in a non-strike year since 1984 -- the Pittsburgh Steelers last year -- started out 0-2 and made the playoffs.

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Statistic that Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer would like to forget: He's 0-6 against John Elway as a head coach and 0-10, including his days as an assistant coach.

"Maybe we could get him a winning lottery ticket and induce him to retire," Schottenheimer said.

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Statistic that Elway won't forget: He's brought the Broncos from behind to win 17 times in the fourth quarter. Roger Staubach did it 23 times for the Cowboys, and the San Francisco 49ers say Joe Montana has done it 25 times, although no official records are kept on it.

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Statistic the Vikings would like to forget: They go to Chicago today with a 1-10 record in their past 11 outdoor games.

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No football column would be complete without a Mike Ditka note. The Chicago Bears' coach is opening a chain of short-order restaurants called "Ditka Dogs" on Oct. 18, his 51st birthday. The special of the house will be the Hall of Famer -- a jumbo all-beef hot dog with all the trimmings. No word on the hot dog yet from Ralph Nader.

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