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Cut by Eagles, Everitt starts over as Rams sub

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When Steve Everitt signed a five-year, $11.5 million deal with the Eagles in March 1997, he fully expected to spend the rest of his career in Philadelphia. Certainly the next five years anyway.

But things don't always work out the way you hope. They certainly didn't for Everitt, who lasted just three seasons with the Birds before being released in April.

He is starting all over again in St. Louis with the Rams. And while the Super Bowl view is much better from the Gateway Arch than it is from William Penn's hat, Everitt still would rather be back in Philly right now.

The man who dreamed Pro Bowl dreams when he signed with the Eagles will open the 2000 season on the Rams' bench, backing up starting center Andy McCollum. Everitt isn't used to being on the bench, but he didn't sign with the Rams until mid-June and still is struggling to get on a first-name basis with coach Mike Martz's offensive system.

"It's going as well as can be expected," Everitt said. "The mental part is coming along a little slower than I'd like. It's like being a rookie again.

"They've got about 12,000 different [pass] protections here. I've been used to number systems where you group things in numbers. Here, it's a lot of straight words. Which means a lot of memorization. A lot of the words they use for our protections here were calls that we used in Philly.

"So automatically, old stuff pops into my head. You've got to erase everything that had come natural to you. But it's coming. ... I just wish they would have released me earlier, so I would've had more time [to make the transition to a new offense]."

With his $2 million salary-cap value exceeding his production level, it was clear early in the off-season that Everitt's days with the Eagles were numbered. He finally was given his release on April 25.

"I saw it coming from the beginning of the off-season," he said. "I told my dad that it was going to happen. He didn't believe me. He said nothing bad could ever happen to me. But there were some things that made it pretty obvious, including re-signing Bubba [Miller].

"I just wish they would've done it earlier. Why hold on to me until two days before minicamp? They could've done it earlier. They already had their minds made up. And they still tried to put a nice spin on it. They said they could've held on to me until June 1. Whatever."

Eagles chief operating officer Joe Banner declined to comment.

Everitt says the only reason the Eagles held on to him was so they could re-sign Miller for backup money.

Miller signed a two-year contract extension in March that will pay him $450,000 this season and $530,000 next year.

"The bottom line is, they basically screwed Bubba," Everitt said. "When they re-signed him, they still had me there. So they re-signed him for backup money. They gave him basically the [veterans'] minimum and then cut me a month later."

Frequent flyer

Three months ago, the chances of left guard Dave Szott returning for an 11th season with the Kansas City Chiefs seemed remote. Szott had asked the Chiefs to trade him to an East Coast team after moving from Kansas City to Morristown, N.J., so that his 6-year-old son Shane, who needs a wheelchair, could attend a school for children with cerebral palsy.

Told the Chiefs that if they didn't trade or release him, he'd probably retire. Instead, Szott and the Chiefs agreed on a compromise.

Szott will fly home to North Jersey on Sunday nights after games and won't have to be back at Arrowhead Stadium until Wednesday morning. Players generally just look at film on Monday anyway, and are off Tuesday. So he won't be missing much.

"It was a very, very simple and easy thing to do for a guy who well deserves it," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said. "He's a self-motivated, hard-working guy who's never asked for anything. I have no question that he's going to be prepared for the game each week. He studies incessantly. He's a consummate pro.

"There are a lot of players you wouldn't want to do something like this with, because you'd be concerned about what they're going to do with the extra time. But I'm not concerned with Dave. I know what he's going to do with the extra time."

Szott figures he will get to spend more quality time during the season with his son this way than he would have had he been traded to the Jets, whose practice facility is in Hempstead, N.Y., or the Eagles.

"When he was back there enrolling his son in school a few months ago," Peterson said, "Dave decided, just for the heck of it, to hop in his car and drive to Hempstead. He got halfway, got stuck in a traffic jam and realized the awful ordeal of East Coast traffic. He decided he's going to be able to spend more quality time with Shane by flying from here and having the extra day off than he would driving back and forth from Morristown every day."

Around the league

Not everyone is convinced that Tampa Bay is going to cruise to a Super Bowl title now that it has Keyshawn Johnson.

One NFC scout, who spent much of the preseason following the Bucs, thinks Johnson "is going to be the most expensive decoy in the NFL."

Added the scout: "I just think their quarterback [Shaun King] is going to have a lot of trouble getting him the ball. Teams are going to constantly double him. Their other receivers are nothing special. They don't have a tight end. Their offense banks on [Mike] Alstott and [Warrick] Dunn getting 4 or 5 yards on first down. But if that doesn't happen, if they keep staring at second-and-10, third-and-long, I think they're going to be in trouble."

In its never-ending search for quarterbacks with a recognizable, or even semi-recognizable name, the XFL is talking to Jim Druckenmiller.

A former first-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, Druckenmiller was in the Miami Dolphins' camp this summer, played in one preseason game, completed a respectable 13 of 21 passes and was promptly released. The XFL plan is to pay players between $50,000 and $75,000, plus bonus money for wins, making the playoffs, et al.

Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper impressed scouts with his play in the preseason. His decision-making was sound, and he was much more accurate than a lot of people expected.

"I'm not sure they aren't better off [with Culpepper] than they were with [Jeff] George," said Bears vice president of player personnel Mark Hatley, whose team will face Culpepper today.

Linebacker Rob Morris' development is coming along slower than the Indianapolis Colts had hoped. When the Colts drafted him with the 28th overall pick in April, they penciled him as their season-opening starting middle linebacker.

But Morris still isn't practicing with the first unit. Ex-Dolphin Dwight Hollier will start today against Kansas City, though Morris is expected to play.

And that

When Dan Reeves was the Giants' coach, he kept whining about his lack of power, said he needed to have final say in the draft, and ended up going to Atlanta and getting all the power a guy could want.

And how's he been using it? Not very well, that's how.

After trading tight end O.J. Santiago to the Cowboys last week, the Falcons are the only team in the league without a single player from the first three rounds of the 1997 draft on its roster. Fourteen of the 33 players Reeves has drafted since arriving in Atlanta aren't with the team.

The 49ers will go to war with a babyfaced roster. Eighteen of the 53 players have never played in an NFL game.

From the lip

Cris Dishman, 35, cut by the Chiefs last week but who will start for the Vikings today: "I still want to play, and I still can go. It's been 13 years. If I can play 13 more, that's what I'll do. Age is nothing but a number. I can still play. I can play with 35-year-olds, and I can play with 20-year-olds."

Emmitt Smith, Cowboys running back, on Washington's off-season acquisitions: "The Redskins have been loading up all year for us. It's going to be unfortunate when they lose."

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