White has super reason for putting off retirement

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When defensive lineman Reggie White signed his four-year, $17 million deal with the Green Bay Packers in 1993, he said it would be his last contract.

After all, he'll be 35 at the end of the 1996 season and should be near the end of the line by then.

But White, who has never missed a nonstrike game in his career and made the NFL's all-time team last year, is having second thoughts.

"I've been praying and evaluating a lot," he said. "The last couple of years I've been talking retirement, but I might have said that out of frustration. Next year could be my last year, but I'm not going to say that [anymore] because it might not be. It's going to be according to how I feel."

Right now, he says he feels fine.

"It seems like the older I get, the harder I work," he said.

The Packers also say he's as good as ever.

"The way he is now, there doesn't appear that there's any difference in his play. He's the same player," general manager Ron Wolf said.

So would White remain in Green Bay? "This team would be my first option," he said. "But you never know. I'd have to go where I feel comfortable."

Nobody would be surprised if Dallas and San Francisco showed interest. One thing White hasn't done in his career is win a Super Bowl.

The chance to do that could make the Cowboys or 49ers enticing.

Bashing Jerry

Carmen Policy, president of the 49ers, continued to knock Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last week for making his own deals and announcing he's going to pull the Cowboys out of NFL Properties when the contract expires in 2004. Policy even compared Jones to a drug addict.

"If we let the mavericks go out on their own, they'll destroy the league," Policy said. "Is [Jones' deal-making] going to be a temporary fix like a drug addict shooting up heroin, where you know you're going to die one of these days? Down the road, the league will die."

Policy is getting a bit carried away. Even Jones can't kill the NFL.

But Jones can continue to annoy his colleagues.

Jones got another chance recently when Apex, which made the clothing for six NFL teams, went bankrupt. The company was the victim of too many bad deals, such as paying coach Bill Parcells of the New England Patriots $350,000 to wear its jackets on the sidelines.

Four of the six teams that Apex dealt with quickly signed deals with other firms licensed by the NFL.

One of the other two was the Cowboys, who have yet to sign a new deal. NFL officials are worried that Jones will sign with a company not licensed by the NFL, such as Nike.

Irsay asking questions

When Jim Harbaugh, backup quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, was brought into the media room Thursday night after the team beat the Chicago Bears, 29-7, the first person to ask him questions wasn't a reporter.

Owner Bob Irsay did the honors, congratulating Harbaugh and asking him if he still wanted to be a starter. Some things never change.

Longtime Irsay watchers say it was his best performance since he held a Christmas party a year or two ago at his home in Indianapolis and told the guests how much he liked it in Baltimore. He quickly added that announcers make that mistake all the time.

Running it up

Sam Wyche, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach who once beat the Houston Oilers, 61-7, when he was in Cincinnati, was at it again last week.

He ran up the score on the Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason game.

With the Bucs leading 17-7 and 2:19 left, Wyche ordered a fake punt, and Reggie Roby threw a 14-yard pass to Tony Stargell for a first down on the Pittsburgh 31. That play set up a 44-yard field goal by Michael Husted.

Wyche said he looked for Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher to shake his hand after the game, but couldn't find him.

After the game, Wyche reminded the reporters that he had beaten the Steelers six straight times during his tenure as Bengals coach.

Wyche said, "I understand Bill was real upset after the ballgame. I don't understand that one. I guess I'm upset, too, when I get my butt kicked."

Cowher said, "I have absolutely no comment. But it didn't surprise me, knowing [Wyche]."

The TV battle

The Cleveland Indians play in their new baseball-only Jacobs Field while the Browns are stuck in that dump by the lake called Cleveland Stadium.

Browns fans also don't like coach Bill Belichick. He was booed when his picture was flashed on the scoreboard at an Indians game. They still haven't forgiven him for releasing Bernie Kosar.

But the Indians still haven't taken the town away from the Browns.

In a head-to-head TV match, a Browns-Falcons preseason game easily beat an Indians-Brewers game. The Browns got an 18.5 rating (percentage of TV sets tuned in) and a 40 share while the Indians got a 15.4 rating and a 27 share.

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