Steelers' O'Donnell could move to greener pastures


If quarterback Neil O'Donnell takes Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl next month, it could be his last game in a Steelers uniform.

O'Donnell will be a free agent at the end of the season, and his agent, Leigh Steinberg, might be able to persuade a team to give him a deal in the $4 million-a-year range if he has a Super Bowl on his resume. If that happens, it's likely the Steelers would drop out of the bidding.

Although Steelers president Dan Rooney won't address O'Donnell's future specifically, he said, "I believe in the salary cap."

Rooney doesn't like the gimmicks that teams are using to get around the cap. He follows the letter and spirit of the cap.

If what happened this year is an omen, more teams might start following that philosophy.

Spending big money hasn't necessarily produced results this year. Look at the Miami Dolphins, who brought in several free agents, including tight end Eric Green, who was lured from Pitts

burgh with a $12 million deal. The Dolphins haven't meshed as a team, and their inept play may get coach Don Shula fired.

DTC Then there's cornerback Deion Sanders, who got the ballyhooed $35 million deal from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones but hasn't stopped the team from going 2-2 in its past four games.

San Francisco showed how to neutralize Sanders by putting its best receiver in the slot, and Washington copied it last week in upsetting the Cowboys.

Redskins tight end Scott Galbraith, a former Cowboy said: "Their problem is that [defensive coordinator Dave] Campo has tried to [create] some more man-to-man situations to allow Deion to do his deal, and it [messed] up the whole defense. Their linebackers aren't the brightest people, and they get confused."

When the Redskins put their best receiver, Henry Ellard, in the slot, Sanders was left covering such notables as rookie Jamie Asher and Olanda Truitt, who was selling cars a few weeks ago.

Asked Galbraith: "That's what you pay a guy $40 million for? To stop a rookie who was inactive the first nine games?"

Rumor du jour

Football teams usually get upset when irresponsible rumors are broadcast about their teams.

But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have no complaints about the false rumors that were broadcast in several cities last week that they're negotiating with Cleveland officials about moving there.

Even though no talks have taken place, the Bucs hope the reports might persuade Tampa to come up with a stadium proposal or even get Cleveland thinking about luring another team.

So far, though, Cleveland officials still are trying to save the Browns instead of stealing another team. They're even convening a meeting of mayors from around the country this week.

The NFL also is providing no help because it continues to take the position that the Browns are still in Cleveland, so league officials won't encourage the city to lure another team. The subject wasn't even mentioned Thursday with Cleveland Mayor Michael White met with league officials.

Cleveland also continues to stick to its idea of renovating Cleveland Stadium. What it needs is a plan for a new stadium.

Meanwhile, Cleveland has added a new supporter -- Henry Kissinger.

The former secretary of state, who once attended a practice with owner Art Modell, said: "I'm absolutely amazed because I always thought he was wedded to Cleveland. I don't know where the mistake was made because I never thought that it had occurred to him to leave Cleveland."

Two-team state?

Now that Washington owner Jack Kent Cooke apparently has a deal to build a stadium in Landover, it's popular to say that Maryland will have two NFL teams once the Browns move.

But even if the Redskins get that stadium, they'll still be a Virginia team 11 months a year because their training facility will remain in Ashburn. The only time they'll spend in Maryland except on game days will be when they go to Frostburg for training camp.

Cooke, 83, also said last week that Norv Turner will be the coach and Charley Casserly the general manager when they get their )) new stadium.

"Norv Turner is going to be the coach of the Redskins for the rest of my life and I intend to live to be 100. It's the same with Charley Casserly," Cooke said.

Cooke seems to be overlooking Turner's 7-22 record.

Who's the boss?

The Indianapolis Colts are releasing little information about the condition of owner Bob Irsay, who suffered a stroke.

It's uncertain who will run the club in his absence. The team has three vice presidents -- Jim Irsay, Bob's son and a vice president and general manager; Bill Tobin, a vice president and director of football operations; and, Michael Chernoff, vice president and general counsel. The future of coach Ted Marchibroda is up in the air because nobody knows who will decide whether his contract will be extended. It expires at the end of this season.

Losing the bet

San Francisco coach George Seifert, who played at Utah, and quarterback Steve Young, who played at Brigham Young, had a friendly wager on the Utah-BYU game. When Utah won, 34-17, Young had to send $500 to the Utah Alumni Association.

"Now I get preferred parking at all University of Utah sporting events," Young said.

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