In Rison, Packers run desperate pattern


Desperate teams tend to do desperate things.

Like signing wide receiver Andre Rison.

Desperate is about the best description of the Green Bay Packers' decision to claim Rison off waivers after he was cut loose by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It was an obvious overreaction to the team's disappointing loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.

Team president Bob Harlan said that general manager Ron Wolf came up to him on the bus after the game and suggested bringing in Rison. Harlan, who runs the administrative side and leaves the football decisions to Wolf, said it was his call.

The Packers, who tried to sign Rison as a free agent a year ago, showed no interest when the Ravens cut him last summer.

But coach Mike Holmgren was desperate after his injury-riddled wide receiving corps caught only seven of 21 passes thrown to them Monday night.

The addition of Rison, though, is likely to be a cure that's worse than the illness.

It's hard to imagine a worse fit for the Packers than Rison. It's hard to imagine him running the disciplined routes needed for the West Coast offense. His habit of being late or skipping meetings isn't likely to be popular in Green Bay, either.

Then there's his relationship with quarterback Brett Favre.

It was just last August that Favre said he was happy the Packers didn't sign him.

"We saved a lot of money, and a lot of heartache because he was a problem internally," Favre said.

Rison later replied that if he were a defensive player, "I'd try to break his face."

Rison also said of Favre, "Maybe a couple of years ago, I would have said he's a hillbilly jealous of a black man making money. But now I'm at this age. No comment."

Favre said this week: "I don't know how that story got started last year. We were just laughing about it now at practice. How things get blown out of proportion. I'm happy he's here."

That's the way things always start with Rison. He always says he just needs a fresh start.

Holmgren said he even brushed off Rison when he started to explain his past problems.

"I said, 'Stop. We're going to approach this from a different way here. You and I are together for the first time. We start new,' " Holmgren said.

Rison said: "You don't have to worry about any griping or arguing about getting the ball or this or that, because the opportunity is there for me now."

Rison said similar things last summer when Jacksonville claimed him. Nobody ever figured he'd be a good fit with Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin, whose no-nonsense approach figured to wear thin on Rison. It didn't help that Rison tested Coughlin's patience by running the wrong patterns in Jacksonville.

When Coughlin was asked a few questions about Rison on a conference call with Baltimore reporters, Coughlin finally cut it off by saying, "I'm not going to answer any more questions about Andre Rison."


Burnout candidate

The Philadelphia Eagles' Ray Rhodes is good, but don't figure him to last long as an NFL head coach. He is a leading burnout candidate. He simply can't cope with the losing.

Last Monday, the day after the Eagles lost to the Washington Redskins, he compared losing at home to someone "breaking into my place" and assaulting his wife and kids, although he used a stronger word than assault.

Owner Jeff Lurie immediately put out a statement saying, "As I've said so often, Ray is passionate and driven about winning. He's a coach who expects success, and it's hard for him to shake off the effects of a big loss. Knowing Ray as I do, however, I knew he'd realize afterward that he should have chosen his words more carefully and not use the analogy that he did. And that's exactly what he said when I asked him how his press conference went."

Wednesday, Rhodes apologized. "I'd like to start this thing off by apologizing to the fans, to the organization, the team, the family, mother and everybody else involved. I'm a very emotional person. I think everybody who has been around me for a few years knows that. I had gone about 24 hours without any sleep, and I was really frustrated about the game. I'm not here for the money. I'm here to win. I put a big premium on winning."

Maybe too big.

Getting the quarterback

After the Detroit Lions broke the leg of Seattle quarterback John Friesz last week, they got a visit Friday from director of

officials Jerry Seeman.

The topic was the Lions' tactic of going for the quarterback's knees and legs.

Assistant head coach John Teerlinck, who's in charge of the defense, recently had been called to New York to meet with commissioner Paul Tagliabue on the same subject. Although Teerlinck wouldn't comment, head coach Wayne Fontes says the Lions are simply aggressive.

"I'm upset about the whole thing. We have some big games left. To have an official come in here to talk to us about it is going to take away our intensity. He's coming in to talk to us about how to tackle a quarterback. We do not teach dirty tactics. We're going to keep going after the quarterback legally to try to knock him down. It's not going to ruin our intensity," Fontes said.

But defensive lineman Robert Porcher said the controversy has affected the Lions. "I think overall, as a defensive unit, guys have become more cautious," he said.

The Lions, who also knocked Warren Moon and Trent Dilfer out of games, go after Chicago's Dave Krieg today. He got the dubious honor last week of becoming the most sacked quarterback in history.

Krieg, who has been sacked 485 times, said: "It comes from getting tackled a lot when you have the ball in your hand."

Stat to remember

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who play at Miami tomorrow night, are 10-1 in Monday night games since Bill Cowher became coach. The lone loss was at Miami last year.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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