Tagliabue makes penalties stiffer on drugs, alcohol


NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, acting without the advice or consent of the NFL Players Association, is stiffening league policy against players who abuse alcohol or drugs.

Tagliabue said yesterday that he has the authority to suspend for a period of four games, without pay, any player found guilty of a first violation -- either drunken driving or breaking a drug law.

Representatives of the players immediately lauded the commissioner for his zeal, but protested any action that is taken without consulting with the players.

Said NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw: "This is just another case of the NFL doing whatever they want to do." The players had authorized the commissioner to take disciplinary action after a second alcohol- or drug-related conviction.

Tagliabue didn't, however, change the rules on drunken driving by coaches.

* WLAF: George Shinn no longer will own and run the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks in the World League of American Football, and the future of the team remains in doubt, league officials said.

In a statement released by the team, Shinn and the league said that no decision has been made on whether the team will be operated by another owner, or whether the franchise will move to another location.

Shinn, who also owns the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA, said he thought new ownership might revitalize the team, which lost all 10 games it played last season.

* COWBOYS: Jerry Jones said he has negotiated the purchase of the remaining 5 percent of the club, a deal that would give him full control of the NFL franchise.

Jones said he would purchase the remaining 5 percent from Arthur "Buddy" Temple, a former Texas railroad commissioner and longtime Democratic Party activist.

Jones already owned 90 percent of the club and controlled another 5 percent owned by a business partner.

* GIANTS: Coach Ray Handley said the quarterback battle between Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler won't split the Super Bowl champions.

"I've stated all along I don't think it's a real big concern of the players," Handley said. "I don't think it will be, because I think they're very comfortable with either guy in there.

"Phil Simms has been here a long time. The older veterans who have played with him and seen the things that he's done, for them to have an opinion favoring Phil, to me, seems natural. But I'm not going to poll the team to see who they like, that's for sure."

Meanwhile, running back Ottis Anderson, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXV, agreed to a one-year contract worth $550,000 and reported to training camp.

* DOLPHINS: Missing two starters on defense because of contract disputes, Miami lost another to an injury.

Inside linebacker John Grimsley, obtained from the Oilers for a third-round draft choice during the off-season, hurt his left knee during a morning workout.

Tests indicated major ligament damage that is going to require surgery, and Grimsley will "in all probability . . . be lost for the year," according to a Dolphins statement.

Grimsley's position was already thin. Veterans Barry Krauss and Cliff Odom, starters in the past, and Plan B acquisition Ned Bolcar are trying to come back from serious injuries.

One week into training camp, the defense is thin elsewhere, too. Cornerback J.B. Brown, formerly of Maryland, is unsigned, and safety Jarvis Williams is holding out while he seeks a new contract.

* 49ERS: Offensive tackle Bubba Paris missed yesterday morning's workout because of an abnormality found in his pre-camp physical.

Coach George Seifert said Paris didn't fail the NFL-administered, substance-abuse test given all players before training camp. Nor was the problem necessarily career-threatening for the nine-year veteran.

"No, it's not [a result of] a drug test, nothing like that," Seifert said. "At this point, I really can't say a whole lot about it. We're thinking of Bubba's privacy."

Paris, 30, has endured scrutiny throughout his career because of a chronic weight problem.

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