Cost, not talent, is deep in NFL expansion pool


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OK, Carolina and Jacksonville, you've got $14 million worth of players apiece, now what? What made yesterday's expansion draft for the Panthers and Jaguars strange is they had to spend $14 million in salaries with their pool selections. Like the entry fee wasn't mind-blowing enough.

Jax coach Tom Coughlin's suggestion that only 12 of his team's 31 picks would make the team makes one wonder why he didn't pull a Paul Richards. Tall Paul, involved in a baseball expansion while working in Houston, looked at the list of availables and tossed it back, saying, "No way. Put some players on there."

* Of course Nancy Kerrigan pulled a smart move, saying she vetoed a $5 million offer to engage Tonya Harding in a skate-off. The Super Bowl-type television rating these figure skaters ran up during the Winter Olympics last year translates into such a meeting being worth two or three times that, not to mention ancillary rights, foreign rights, book and movie rights, closed-circuit, pay-per-view, parking, concessions, subsequent endorsements and promotional considerations paid by the Goodyear Blimp.

* You know high school girls basketball has "arrived" when an afternoon game is called off near its end due to a fight breaking out in the stands and spilling onto the floor. Good Counsel of Wheaton was playing Elizabeth Seton of Bladensburg when, reportedly, an adult attacked a student during an argument. Counsel's first-year coach Billy Langloh, who was a terrific player at Virginia years ago and undoubtedly was involved in numerous highly charged ACC battles, said, "I have never seen anything like it."

* The Yankees are moaning that tickets for spring training games in Fort Lauderdale are moving at a Kevin Duckworth pace because, well, guess. Maybe a contributing factor is the ballclub charges $6 for a bleacher ticket there, just 50 cents less than they are in the Bronx.

And speaking of Duckworth, three cheers for the Washington Bullets' suspending him for "failing to maintain adequate physical conditioning." He weighed 275 during his best playing days and now, past 30 and with leg problems, answers to 325-plus. A physical exam today or tomorrow will determine the outcome of his grievance. A mile run for time might be a better idea.

* Golf hasn't laid claim to a Sullivan Award winner in 60 years, since Lawson Little took the honor given to the top amateur athlete in the U.S., but Tiger Woods could change that at the award presentation Feb. 27. Tiger, a guy who carried a 4.0 GPA into Stanford last fall and the youngest national amateur champ ever at age 18, is among 10 finalists, along with Maryland gymnast Dominique Dawes.

* The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's "Save the Bay Campaign" is $1,000 richer as a result of Sylvain Cote's winning an Alka-Seltzer Plus Award as the top plus/minus player on the Washington Capitals. Cote was on the ice for 31 more goals by his team than the opposition, the mark of a good defenseman. He's an Annapolitan and the Bay Campaign is his favorite charity.

* Because he has coached a half-dozen different teams in two pro leagues (NBA and ABA), Kevin Loughery, just banished from the bench by the Miami Heat, probably will be remembered as one of those retread coaches or managers who always seem to come up with a job. Fact is, and it's especially true with Loughery, these guys always land on their feet because they are very good at their jobs. In Kevin's first full season coaching, his team went 55-29 and breezed through the playoffs to a championship with a 12-2 mark. Of course, the ABA New York Nets possessed Dr. J at the time.

* Poor Charles Barkley, he must see himself as a latter-day Muhammad Ali. Someone tell the guy Ali is probably the only athlete ever who could rail on about anything and anybody and get away with it, and affirmative action had nothing to do with it. Believe us, Sir Charles, you're no Muhammad Ali.

* Do you suppose we'll ever see the return of big-time college hoop doubleheaders outside the NCAA tournament and those holiday "classics" in Rangoon? Years ago, they were the greatest, providing the chance to see more teams live. They made the kind of fans who stuck, not the kind who show up looking for the TV cameras.

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