Esiason eager to control 'Tempo' in revised no-huddle offense


The Cincinnati Bengals plan to use a revised form of their no-huddle offense in tomorrow's season opener in Denver. The Bengals call it "The Tempo."

It allows quarterback Boomer Esiason to call a play with a hand gesture or a single word.

"Now we find out how much we're committed to it," Esiason said. "We've used it for a few quarters here and there. I just hope we give it time and stick with it for four quarters."

Esiason used the new wrinkle during the preseason, as he directed the Bengals to 11 scores. Coach Sam Wyche's new scheme allows the Bengals to run their no-huddle at different speeds, keeping the defense from getting into a rhythm.

In the old version, Esiason would go to the line of scrimmage and try to beat the clock while calling the play. Now, he can get the ball snapped with one word or a simple signal.

* PACKERS: Tim Harris' agent and team officials talked again, but they did not settle the contract differences and the linebacker remains a holdout.

Harris, the Packers' sack leader the past five seasons, and the team were reportedly $700,000 apart. Harris has been asking for $1.5 million per season.

* ESPN: Chris Berman's Super Bowl ring is being returned to sender -- 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., that is.

Berman, the ESPN sports anchor, acknowledged last week that he received a championship ring from DeBartolo, whom he counts as a close friend. ESPN staffers have said that professional flak in and out of the office created by his acknowledgment -- accepting the ring is considered a breach of journalistic ethics and a conflict of interest -- has forced Berman, the host of ESPN's "NFL Gameday" segments, to think twice about hanging on to the expensive piece of jewelry.

"This was a personal gift from Mr. DeBartolo, not the 49ers," Berman said in a statement released by the network. "Nothing has ever swayed what I see or what I say when I report on the ers, the NFL or anything else in the world of sports, for that matter.

* USFL: Six years after the Jacksonville Bulls folded, the company that owned the team still has about $12.4 million in judgments and liens against it.

The Jacksonville (Fla.) City Council moved this week to write off as uncollectible a $64,653 debt owed by the Bulls for use of the Gator Bowl and its stadium club.

Fred Bullard, a Jacksonville developer and owner of the Bulls, said: "I can't afford to do that right now. I have far more other obligations that I have to take care of."

Bullard said he was the Bulls' big loser. "We dropped $20 million in the process of playing football here," he said.

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