Giants coach feeling the press-ure NFL WEEK 6

PRO FOOTBALL

October 11, 1992|By VITO STELLINO

"Giant Mess"

"Raving Ray Must Go"

"Lupica to Handley: Get Out"

"Giants need a coach, not a case for a couch"

"Handley's boorish behavior has become an embarrassment to football."

Those were just some of the headlines in the New York tabloids last week about the New York Giants and their beleaguered coach Ray Handley, who has been accused of everything but taking a trip to Moscow as a student.

George Young, the general manager who remained calm in the eye of the hurricane, said with a smile, "Bruce Coslet [Jets coach] finally won a game last week, and he couldn't get his name in the paper."

Handley, meanwhile, couldn't keep his name out of the paper.

Apparently angered by some unflattering footage a TV station ran of his Monday news conference, Handley announced he was cutting back on the time he spends with the media. He then either did or did not -- depending on which version you believe -- push the arm of a photographer who was unaware he was no longer supposed to shoot practice.

Mike Lupica, a columnist who wrote a book with former coach Bill Parcells -- so he might not be an unbiased observer -- wrote, "Now is the time for Handley to go."

At least for now, though, Handley is remaining on the sidelines. He still seems to have Young's backing.

Young won't bother to comment on the coach-media tango, although Handley seems to have forgotten the adage that it's not a good idea to get into a battle with people who buy their ink by the barrel.

Young is busy working his way through the team's transition. An era is ending for the team. Lawrence Taylor has announced he's retiring, and Phil Simms got hurt again last week and is obviously near the end.

"We're trying to get our problems solved, but we can't solve them all at one time. . . . Ray happens to be the coach here while this is taking place," Young said.

The anniversary

The NFL dates the start of pro football to Nov. 12, 1892, when former Yalie Pudge Heffelfinger got the first known contract ($500) to play pro football for the Allegheny Athletic Association near Pittsburgh.

On the 100th anniversary next month, the NFL will be -- where else? -- in court.

On Nov. 12, Judge David Doty will hear arguments on whether he should allow all of the players whose contracts expire at the end of this season to become free agents.

Although the owners finally have contacted Jim Quinn, the players' lead attorney, about holding settlement talks, both sides will wait to hear what Doty decides before getting down to substantive negotiations.

A face lift

The Los Angeles Coliseum Commission will use $15 million it won from the NFL over the move of the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles to give the stadium a face lift. The money will pay for lowering the field and to install seats closer to the playing field.

But there's not enough money to construct luxury boxes, and it remains to seen if Al Davis, the Raiders owner, will be satisfied. A plan to build luxury boxes with private funds has collapsed.

Stashing?

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue finally got around to bringing in Charley Casserly, the general manager of the Washington Redskins, last week to question him about the decision to put rookie quarterback Chris Hakel on the injured-reserve list with a shoulder injury. Casserly presented the Redskins' evidence that Hakel really was hurt in practice.

Tagliabue has called in executives from several teams, including Chuck Schmidt, the executive vice president of the Detroit Lions, and Bobby Beathard, the San Diego Chargers GM, to discuss players they put on the IR list.

Tagliabue can take away a second-round draft choice if he finds a team guilty of stashing. The finger often has been pointed at the Redskins, because their young quarterbacks have a habit of winding up on IR.

The problem is that virtually every player has some sort of injury, so it's virtually impossible to prove a player isn't injured. With all the other legal problems facing the league, it'll be surprising if Tagliabue starts meting out any penalties.

By just calling in the executives, he hopes to discourage the practice.

On the road?

The perception that the New England Patriots are a basket case and will be heading to St. Louis seems to be getting stronger every week.

Last week, even the public relations director, Pat Hanlon, quit. He apparently didn't like working for president Sam Jankovich, who's not noted for his tact.

"The timing of my leaving is not conventional," Hanlon said. "But there are a lot of unconventional things about the situation in New England. I just felt I had done what I could."

There are problems on and off the field. Some of the players, notably offensive linemen Pat Harlow and Eugene Chung, got into a scuffle at halftime last week, another sign of how frustrated the winless team is.

On top of everything else, the Pats are host to the San Francisco 49ers today. At least the Patriots expect to get a big crowd. The fans obviously want to see a good football team.

Goodbye

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