QB Hebert ends holdout, becomes a Saint again


Quarterback Bobby Hebert ended a 1 1/2 -year holdout yesterday by signing a new contract with the New Orleans Saints.

Hebert, who sat out all last season after demanding in January 1990 to be traded, said at a news conference that he had signed a two-year contract with no option.

He would not discuss terms of the contract, which reportedly is heavy with incentives.

Nor would Hebert discuss his holdout or his often stormy negotiations with Jim Finks, president and general manager. Hebert alluded only once, with a hint of sarcasm, to the Saints' apparent refusal to trade or release him.

"Why is it that pro football is the only business in America where you don't have a contract and they still own you?" he asked, rhetorically.

Neither Finks nor Mora was at the news conference, held at the Saints training camp.

"Business is business. What has been done, that's in the past," said Hebert, who will be 31 in August.

"I'm just glad this is behind me. All I want to do is play football. Come Sept. 1, my goal is to be the starting quarterback."

The development threw the quarterback picture into chaos. The team traded with the Dallas Cowboys in 1990 for Steve Walsh, who started most of New Orleans' games last season and immediately was labeled the club's quarterback of the future.

Hebert's signing leaves the Saints with four quarterbacks -- Hebert, Walsh, journeyman John Fourcade and Mike Buck, a sixth-round draft choice in 1990.

After the news conference, the Saints issued a statement from Walsh.

"My attitude for training camp and the 1991 season is that I need to strive to be the best quarterback on the team," Walsh's statement said. "My goal is to be the starter, and now the competition is between four players rather than three."

* GIANTS: Coach Ray Handley acknowledged what has been apparent -- but left unsaid by the organization -- since Mark Bavaro underwent major left knee surgery on Feb. 26: The staff isn't counting on the talented tight end's services for 1991.

"I think you have to be very optimistic to count on him for this year," Handley said on the final day of his rookie minicamp. "He's in there doing rehabilitation. I think he's making good progress. It's just presumptuous for us to be counting on him for the season. It would be a real bonus if Mark were able to come back."

Handley has seen Bavaro working out at Giants Stadium, but the two have not discussed the injury.

"I've just gone with the lead of our medical people," Handley said. "He's in there rehabilitating all the time. We should all work so hard. I would never count him out, but I don't think it would be very intelligent on my part to count him in."

* WLAF: The World League of American Football is confident itfirst championship game will outdraw the first Super Bowl.

Officials believe Sunday's World Bowl between the London Monarchs and the Barcelona Dragons at Wembley Stadium in London will attract a bigger crowd than the 61,946 who watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Jan. 15, 1967.

They're hoping for a sellout of 80,000.

"Tickets have been selling at the rate of 1,000 an hour," Bob Payton, American restaurateur and World Bowl organizer, said Tuesday. "It's got to be the hottest ticket in town."

* CFL: Quarterback Major Harris said he's looking to land a job with another Canadian Football League team after his release by the British Columbia Lions.

His agent, Ed Abram of Oakland, Calif., has been in discussions with the Calgary Stampeders, Harris said.

Harris said from his home in Pittsburgh that he talked with Lions coach Bob O'Billovich about two weeks ago and "we got everything cleared up" about Harris' future.

"Then the next thing I know, some reporter called me up and said they put me on waivers [last week]," he said.

O'Billovich said Monday that off-season negotiations produced nothing positive and "rather than beat a dead horse, we said the heck with it."

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