This is not going to be the year of the quarterback in the NFL's collegiate draft.
That was the message the Green Bay Packers sent out last week when they traded a first-round pick -- the 17th -- to the Atlanta Falcons for quarterback Brett Favre, who was selected on the second round last year.
In effect, the Packers, who also have the fifth pick in the first round, were saying that Favre is better than any quarterback they could take in the first round this year, including Houston's David Klingler.
This will be the second straight year a quarterback won't be selected at the top of the round. Seattle's Dan McGwire was the first quarterback taken last year, going in the 16th slot.
There still will be a lot of intrigue at the top of the draft. Defensive lineman Steve Emtman of Washington, who figures to be the first player taken, is privately saying he won't play for the Indianapolis Colts, who have the first two picks.
"He'll sit out the year before he'll play for the Colts," said draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. of Baltimore, who predicts the Los Angeles Rams will trade up from third to first to take Emtman.
Is Emtman -- who hired Marvin Demoff, the same agent who talked the Colts into trading John Elway in 1983 -- bluffing? We'll see.
Meanwhile, Charley Casserly, the Washington Redskins general manager, who has the sixth pick, says he may trade down, because he doesn't think there are six blue-chip players in the draft.
The Favre trade was just the first pre-draft maneuver. It's not likely to be the last -- especially with Emtman trying to talk his way out of Indianapolis.
The expansion file: A federal judge in Minneapolis, David Doty, clouded the already-murky expansion picture on Friday when he refused to set a trial date for the antitrust lawsuit filed by the players. He only said it would be completed before the end of the year. He previously had said it would be completed by the start of training camp.
If it's not completed by October, when the league is scheduled to name two expansion teams, will the league go ahead or delay? That's just one more unanswered question about expansion.
It did become apparent at an expansion committee meeting in Dallas on Tuesday that Charlotte, N.C., St. Louis, Baltimore and Memphis, Tenn., will be the first four teams that make the cut next month at the annual March meeting. Sacramento, Calif., and Jacksonville, Fla., would be fighting for the fifth spot if the list is cut to five. They'll both make it if they put six teams on the short list. Oakland, Calif., San Antonio, Nashville, Tenn., and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., appear to be out of the running.
The tenor of the meeting wasn't too positive for Baltimore's chances of getting one of the two teams. NFL executives -- particularly the ones from NFL Properties -- are pushing for Charlotte, even though it will have to use private funding for a new stadium, which means the team will start out with a huge debt. The pro-Charlotte forces stress that the area is a banking center so the team will be able to borrow the money. Paying it back will be another matter.
If Charlotte gets one team, St. Louis is the logical location for the other team. The meeting did nothing to change the speculation that Charlotte and St. Louis are the two favorites.
A vote that won't count: Jerry Izenberg, a columnist in Newark, and New York, endorsed Baltimore on Friday in a column he wrote about the one-day sellout of the exhibition game last month. "Emotionally and morally, Baltimore belongs back in the NFL," Izenberg wrote. But he added, "On the other hand, who says these two qualities will get you a football team these days?"
Problems in San Francisco: 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. wasn't pleased when the Wall Street Journal reported last week that his father has piled up a $4 billion debt on his shopping center empire and has filed bank statements saying the family will sell the 49ers to help the cash flow.
DeBartolo denied the team is for sale, but that may be the least of his problems. DeBartolo, who skipped the Tuesday expansion meeting in Dallas, dined at a restaurant Monday night near San Francisco, and some members of the group then went to DeBartolo's home.
What happened next is a matter of some dispute, but a woman filed a report that DeBartolo sexually assaulted her about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday at his home.
Although the woman made a police report immediately, police waited until Thursday to announce they were looking into the charges.
"We wanted to give our investigators a running start," a police spokesman said, citing the media attention that focused on the recent rape cases involving William Kennedy Smith and Mike Tyson.
The police are trying to unravel conflicting accounts by witnesses. "There was alcohol involved and memories are impaired," the spokesman said.
Police will decide this week whether to file charges against DeBartolo, who had no comment. A team spokesman said the allegations were false.