Chicago Bears rookie defensive tackle Fred Washington was killed along with a companion in a one-car crash early yesterday morning.
Washington was northbound on Illinois 43 in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, where the Bears have their training camp, when the car struck the right curb, crossed the road and hit a tree.
Washington and his female passenger, Petra Stoll, 22, were pronounced dead at the scene, about two miles from Washington's residence.
Weather conditions were favorable at the time and no evidence of alcohol or other drugs was found in the car, a burgundy Cadillac sports model registered to Stoll, officials said.
The Bears drafted Washington, 23, in the second round of the 1990 draft. The 6-foot-2, 277-pounder from Texas Christian had been used sparingly until recent weeks, when he began playing more for the injured Dan Hampton.
* COWBOYS: Linebacker Jesse Solomon, in the immortal words of Joe Namath, guaranteed that Dallas would beat the Philadelphia Eagles tomorrow.
"I'm guaranteeing a victory," Solomon said in a seasonal message to Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham and coach Buddy Ryan. "We're gonna be like the Grinch. We're gonna come in there and steal their Christmas. Tell Randall I'll be after him everywhere he goes. He better get some sleep. Tell Buddy he doesn't have to like us. But when we come out of there with a win, he's gonna respect us whether he likes it or not."
Solomon said the Cowboys were upset that nobody from the team made the Pro Bowl.
"Our Pro Bowl is going to be making the playoffs," he said. "Philly's in our way."
* WLAF: Chan Gailey's success with the Denver Broncos and at Troy State helped him land yesterday the job as coach of the Birmingham Fire of the World League of American Football.
Gailey, 38, coached at Troy State for two seasons, leading the Trojans to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II championship in 1984. As offensive coordinator for the Broncos, he helped get the team to the Super Bowl three times in the past four years.
Most of the players will come from the league's scouting combine Feb. 8-24 in Orlando, Fla. The Fire opens its five-game home season Saturday, March 23, against Montreal.
* BENGALS: Cincinnati cornerback Lewis Billups says he had to leave the Dec. 9 game against San Francisco after he had a reaction to a drug given to him by the Bengals' team doctor.
Billups said Dr. Robert Heidt Jr. gave him two tablets of Valium during the game against the 49ers, apparently in an effort to ease leg cramps Billups was experiencing. Billups re-entered the game, but stayed only a few plays before being forced back to the sidelines because of his reaction to the drug.
"We had a big, kind of, misunderstanding," Billups told The Cincinnati Post. "He was trying to hurry up and get me back out there so he gave me something to stop them. I had to get back out on the field. But I was kind of like . . . whoa. It was kind of hard to play football like that. I had to come back out."
Billups missed portions of the final two 49ers drives, which resulted in San Francisco's 20-17 overtime victory.
Valium causes confusion and slurred speech and slows down reaction time, affecting the body much like alcohol does.