Haven't they outstayed their usefulness?
* As if it wasn't bad enough the Cincinnati Bengals are 0-7, the organization continues to be embarrassed by the many harangues of coach Sam Wyche.
If you caught his act in Monday night's 35-16 loss in Buffalo, you saw him berate an assistant coach (Jim Anderson) on the sidelines, charge onto the field to argue an official's call and jump into the middle of a scuffle in front of the Bengals bench.
Later he blamed the loss on officiating, and at least one comment carried dark insinuation. "This one was more than just inconsistent officiating," Wyche said. "It was bothersome to me. It should be bothersome to the league."
Wyche was quick to say he was not out of control, that he was simply "motivating" his players with his actions. In truth, he was closer to inciting a riot on the field.
This, remember, is the same guy who a few weeks ago said that football isn't life and death. Whatever happened to tennis and golf, anyway?
* Instant Replay isn't getting better, it's getting hideous. Last Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Denver Broncos 19-16 when two decisions made by replay official Dave Kamanski cost them at least seven points.
Kamanski reversed a 4-yard touchdown pass from Chiefs quarterback Steve DeBerg to J.J. Birden in the first quarter, ruling that DeBerg's knee had touched the ground as he scrambled away from Denver's blitzing Mike Croel. DeBerg in
sisted he heard no whistle stopping the play. The Chiefs had to settle for a field goal.
In the third quarter, the Chiefs' Christian Okoye fumbled the ball diving over a pile on fourth-and-one from his own 38. It was recovered by guard Dave Lutz beyond the line of scrimmage. But because no one other than a runner can recover a fourth-down fumble for the offense past the line of scrimmage, the referee Jerry Markbreit spotted the ball at the 39.
Kamanski, however, ruled the ball should be spotted back at the 38. So Markbreit dragged out the chains to measure for a first down, and the Chiefs were several inches shy. Denver then drove to a field goal and 16-9 lead.
What's amazing is how all these league owners forget all the brutally bad replay mistakes in the offseason and let it slide through year to year.
* In a move that drew yawns around the globe, NFL owners, meeting in Dallas, voted this week to keep the WLAF alive. Indeed, they announced a new three-year contract with ABC and USA Network. The lingering question, of course, is why?
The probable answer is that the NFL doesn't like being beaten abroad by the NBA, which is more popular overseas. And commissioner Paul Tagliabue used some muscle to drag Chicago and Phoenix into the picture. Neither franchise contributed to the WLAF charity cause last year, but because of a rule passed this week, both will now.
What is most peculiar -- galling, in fact -- is that NFL has never sought out the advice of the former USFL members in their ranks.
* A DISTANT RUMBLE: Two members of the NFL's expansion committee, Rankin Smith of Atlanta and Art Modell of Cleveland, expressed the opinion that the league needs a collective bargaining agreement before it can expand.
That's hardly a new idea. Several owners have been saying the same thing, either privately or on the record, for some time. And that's why Tagliabue had to put a qualifier in his expansion resolution last May. That is, the league will add two teams for the 1994 season "unless the commissioner and the expansion committee determine that labor-management issues constitute an impediment to such expansion timetable."
Getting a new collective bargaining agreement was Tagliabue's big charge upon taking office, and so far he hasn't come close.
* I SPY: Giants coach Ray Handley has suggested his team is the victim of pre-game espionage. He thinks opponents have rented out rooms in the 21-story Meadowlands Sheraton that overlooks the Giants' practice facility adjacent to Giants Stadium to spy on workouts. This week, in preparation for the Redskins, the Giants practiced inside the stadium.
* TWO-MINUTE WARNING: Chargers linebacker Leslie O'Neal pinned assistant coach Mike Haluchak against a locker at halftime of last Sunday's 30-24 loss to the Browns. O'Neal reportedly intervened in a dispute between Haluchak and linebacker Henry Rolling and was fined $5,000 . . . Redskins linebacker Matt Millen, who plays on first downs and short-yardage downs, on his future: "I'll end up like Ted Hendricks, ordering a hot dog on the sideline." . . . Bobby Humphrey's six-week holdout will cost the Broncos running back at least $118,125 for lost time. Owner Pat Bowlen has told Humphrey he will forgive $120,000 in fines and will talk renegotiation after the season if Humphrey causes no more problems..