Injury not serious, so Dolphin goes home


Miami Dolphins rookie linebacker Bryan Cox, who left his first NFL game on a stretcher with a spinal injury, was released from the hospital yesterday after tests found no paralysis.

Cox was one of the few Dolphins to star in their preseason opener Friday night, a 6-0 loss to the Chicago Bears. The fifth-round draft choice from Western Illinois made six solo tackles, but was hurt on the game's final play.

Cox lay motionless until he was carefully placed on a hard stretcher and taken to an ambulance.

"There was a real scare there on the field for a period of time," Dolphins coach Don Shula said.

The injury initially was diagnosed as a severe contusion of the nerve root of the cervical spine. Yesterday, Shula described it as a pinched nerve in the neck.

* Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has picked up the pace of his behind-the-scenes efforts to settle the Freeman McNeil lawsuit, which seeks unlimited free agency for NFL players, before it goes to trial in Minneapolis on Feb. 19, an NFL club executive told The New York Times last week.

The club executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Tagliabue had been negotiating with Jim Quinn of the Manhattan law firm of Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Quinn, whose firm is representing McNeil and four other players, was instrumental in the settlement of a similar suit against the NBA in 1988 that led to the present collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players.

The club executive said Tagliabue was trying to put together a package that would include some kind of free agency, a four-tiered salary cap and a form of revenue sharing.

* CHARGERS: John Friesz threw two touchdown passes to Steve Hendrickson in a 26-17 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals in a controlled scrimmage in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Friesz and Hendrickson had scoring plays of 4 and 2 yards, as the rugged H-back shook off tackles on both touchdowns.

* SEAHAWKS: Quarterback Kelly Stouffer passed his first test Friday night, completing five of nine passes for 117 yards and a touchdown in a scrimmage against the Atlanta Falcons at Civic Stadium in Portland, Ore.

Stouffer is the forgotten man among Seattle quarterbacks. He is fourth on the depth chart, behind starter Dave Krieg, backup Jeff Kemp and first-round pick Dan McGwire.

* OILERS: Defensive tackle Jeff Alm, who earned a starting job this week, will return to Houston for arthroscopic knee surgery, team officials said.

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ray Childress had been moved back to defensive end, allowing Alm to play left defensive tackle. But ,, the 6-foot-6, 269-pound player was injured in Thursday's scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys in Austin, Texas.

Tests on Friday revealed a probable tear of the posterior cruciate ligament. He will undergo surgery Tuesday or Wednesday and will be sidelined for a minimum of two to four weeks.

* John McKay, the first coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence early yesterday after running his car into a pole, Tampa, Fla., police said.

McKay, 68, was driving near his home when he lost control of his car and struck a light pole at 1:57 a.m., Lt. Jesse James said.

"He knocked down the pole," James said.

McKay was charged with DUI and released from the Hillsborough County Jail shortly before noon yesterday on $1,000 bond, a jail official said.

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