As the Washington Redskins have piled up each victory in their 10-0 start, coach Joe Gibbs has stressed after each game that the team hasn't won anything yet.
That will change Sunday if Washington beats the Pittsburgh Steelers to go 11-0.
A victory would enable them to clinch a wild-card playoff spot, the NFL announced yesterday. They would become the first team since the 1985 Chicago Bears to clinch a playoff spot after the 11th game. The Bears started 12-0.
* PATRIOTS: Hopes of keeping the team ownership dispute out of court failed when a bank sued co-owners Victor Kiam and Fran Murray.
The suit wasn't viewed as a major impediment to an agreement between majority owner Kiam and Murray, reached the previous night, that they would delay resolution of the matter until after the NFL season.
Their conflict centered on a provision in the ownership contract which allowed Murray to get out of it by demanding $38 million from Kiam three years after it was entered into in October 1988. If Kiam didn't pay, Murray, who owns 49 percent of the team, would get the franchise and sell it.
Joseph DiBenedetto, lawyer for National Westminster Bank USA, said a suit was filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan against Murray and Kiam and their respective companies, FWM Corp. and VKK Corp.
DiBenedetto said the bank made a $13.5 million loan to Murray and his company in October 1988, and it came due last Oct. 10. Murray personally guaranteed that the loan would be repaid, he said.
There were indications Murray or Kiam would be able to pay the bank before the court could order such payment.
Meanwhile, the team signed Gene Taylor, an all-star wide receiver with the Barcelona Dragons of the World League of American Football. The Patriots released Taylor Aug. 26 on their final cut of training camp.
* COLTS: A mediator for the NFL met with team representatives and Eric Dickerson in San Francisco in an attempt to resolve the latest dispute with the star running back.
Dickerson was suspended by head coach Rick Venturi on Thursday for four games and fined more than $617,000 for allegedly refusing to finish a practice session.
Dickerson has denied that he refused to practice and said the punishment was more severe than other penalties that have been meted out in the league.
Sam Kagel, a San Francisco attorney and labor negotiator, is mediating the dispute, following Dickerson's request for an expedited hearing filed with the NFL management council. Kagel has been the NFL's chief arbitrator since the 1982 players strike.
General manager Jim Irsay, one of six Colts officials at the meeting, said late yesterday that depositions were still being taken and a decision wasn't likely soon.
* GIANTS: Linebacker Steve DeOssie's misdemeanor trial for "possession of drug paraphernalia" after his Sept. 30 arrest at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is scheduled for tomorrow in Grapevine, Texas, Municipal Court. The maximum $500 fine is not the issue. If DeOssie is convicted, he could be suspended for a minimum of four games by the NFL. That punishment is subject to commissioner Paul Tagliabue's discretion.
"I've spoken with the league office," Jack Mula, DeOssie's Boston-based agent, said. "We're going through the drug policy. I have to speak with Steve about his options."
DeOssie is not required to appear at tomorrow's trial unless he intends to contest the charge. That's only one of his options.
"We can always push the matter back to next year," said Mula, who is working with defense lawyers in Texas. "Steve can always decide to say no and beat the matter on the facts."