Eagles still can't shed Ryan legacyBuddy Ryan...


Eagles still can't shed Ryan legacy

Buddy Ryan still haunts the Philadelphia Eagles.

Two years after Ryan was fired as coach of the Eagles, his legacy is still very much a part of the franchise.

The Eagles recently filed tampering charges against Ryan, who recently was hired as the defensive coordinator of the Houston Oilers, for suggesting Reggie White will sign with the Oilers.

The Eagles' action came after Ryan told reporters: "I think if I'm not mistaken the Houston Oilers are [White's] top pick to go to right now, as soon as he finds out I'm going there."

That's typical Buddy bluster, and the NFL's reaction is likely to be a shrug, but the Eagles couldn't let it pass.

It's just another example of the impact Ryan had on the Eagles. It also explains why the team he built there is now being dismantled.

Ryan always took the players' sides in holdouts and helped foster the idea that Braman was cheap.

When the Eagles lost Keith Jackson after a long holdout, that image of Braman was reinforced.

The revelation during the antitrust trial last summer that Braman paid himself $7.5 million one year reinforced it even further.

It explains why four of the team's top defensive players -- White, Seth Joyner, Eric Allen and Clyde Simmons -- were lead plaintiffs in the successful lawsuit filed by the players.

When judge David Doty gave preliminary approval Friday to an out-of-court settlement that opens the way for free agency, the Eagles' lawyer objected -- to no avail.

Braman is so resigned to losing those four defensive players that he used his first three designations on White (franchise player), Allen and Joyner (transition players) and will use his final transition slot next year on Simmons. He can't stop them from leaving, but he's arguing with the league he should get a No. 1 draft choice for each one of them from a special compensation pool. That would give him seven No. 1 picks in the next three years -- four for compensation and his own three.

It also means the Eagles can't protect Keith Byars this year and won't be able to protect Randall Cunningham when his contract expires. But Braman is going to try to use those seven picks -- if he gets them -- to build a new team.

Meanwhile, he's working on damage control. In an attempt to change his reputation, he recently opened his books to The Philadelphia Inquirer. He showed what he spent on each player, starting with Cunningham's $3,005,713.99 salary. He said his total payroll last year was $31,938,482.99, which is more than he'll be able to spend once the salary cap kicks in.

He said out of that $7.5 million he paid himself, he only netted $103,701 because of taxes and money he put back into the team.

"I hear all those snide remarks about our 'frugal' nature and I grind my teeth," he told the Inquirer.

He said a league audit showed the Eagles were second in payroll costs from 1988 to 1992. Assuming the San Francisco 49ers were first, that means he spent more than the Washington Redskins, who have a free-spending reputation.

The expansion derby

Don't call us, we'll call you.

That's the word from commissioner Paul Tagliabue to the five expansion cities.

Now that the league seems committed to naming two expansion teams this fall, the five finalists (Baltimore; St. Louis; Charlotte, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Jacksonville, Fla.) are eager to kick their lobbying efforts into high gear. But Tagliabue told them in a letter last week to cool it.

He said it was the NFL's policy that the representatives of the TC expansion cities shouldn't contact any of the owners. He said they'll be given a chance to make a presentation to the members of the expansion committee and possibly to all the owners in the future.

Herbert Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said he has no problems with the policy of not contacting owners. Belgrad said, though, he's already working on the presentation the city will make.

He recently met with representatives of the three ownership groups for a planning session and said they've all been very helpful.

"I couldn't ask for more cooperation than I've received from each group," Belgrad said. "They're putting the community interests ahead of their personal interests."

Belgrad said the city also is planning to put together a new video as part of its presentation.

Tagliabue hasn't set a date for the presentations yet, but said there will be no presentations at the March meeting in Palm Springs, Calif. Tagliabue is allowing each group from each city only two representatives at that meeting and is continuing his ban on hospitality rooms.

Since league officials have been so busy working on the new collective bargaining agreement, they won't be ready to take major steps on expansion next month. The cities can only plan and wait for the league to take action on expansion.

The quarterbacks

The college draft is still two months away, but two quarterbacks -- Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer -- are the favorites to be the top two picks.

The Seattle Seahawks, picking second, want Bledsoe, but are convinced the New England Patriots are going to take him with the top pick so they seem to be resigned to taking Mirer.

The big game

The Green Bay Packers' 26-17 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals in the 1988 finale is not exactly a memorable game, but its impact is still being felt.

The victory dropped Green Bay to second place in the draft order, and they took offensive lineman Tony Mandarich. He was a bust and the Packers cut him Friday.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys, who would have picked second behind Green Bay if the Packers had lost that game, selected Troy Aikman.

4( You know what Aikman did last month.

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