PHILADELPHIA -- Buddy Ryan need not worry about his job -- until the season is over.
That was the message Norman Braman sent out yesterday, speaking from Florida on his car phone. Braman, the Philadelphia Eagles owner, also said his players should concern themselves with their own performances right now, rather than worrying about the fate of their coach.
"We will not change coaches in midstream," Braman said in a radio interview. "That's something we are not going to do. I can say that categorically."
Of comments by Reggie White and other Eagles that Ryan, in the last season of a five-year contract, should be given an extension as soon as possible and that Ryan's unsettled contract situation has affected the players' performances during the Eagles' 1-3 start, Braman said: "I think that any responsible person would not pay attention to that nonsense.
"It wasn't Buddy Ryan's contract that allowed the Indianapolis Colts to go 90 yards down the field [in the final minutes of a 24-23 Eagles loss Sunday] . . . I mean, there comes a time when the players on this team have to begin taking responsibility for what occurs out there on the field. I think it's time to stop talking and start performing."
Braman said he certainly wasn't going to penalize any player for speaking his mind, but added: "They're not going to run the asylum. I'm going to run the asylum. I'm going to make the decision concerning Buddy Ryan. [Eagles president] Harry Gamble and I will sit down at the end of the season, we'll evaluate everything and we'll make our decision."
His decision to stay out of the locker room Sunday after the loss to the previously winless Colts, Braman said, was "out of respect for the deep hurt that all the fellas must have felt losing the game, as well as the coaches."
Braman said he was fortunate that his problems are confined to the field, unlike those of the New England Patriots' owner, whose team is being investigated for alleged sexual harassment of a woman reporter in the locker room.
"It could be a lot worse," Braman said. "Poor Victor Kiam has a lot more trouble than Norman Braman does."