In Philadelphia, freedom: White likely to move on

January 13, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

The Reggie White era appears to have ended in Philadelphia. On Monday, the day after the Eagles lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 34-10, in an NFC divisional playoff game, the All-Pro defensive end again said that team management isn't committed to winning.

White becomes a free agent Feb. 1, and he could be the prize catch in the free-agent pool despite having a subpar season.

"It's frustrating," he said as he cleaned out his locker at Veterans Stadium, perhaps for the last time. "I've been here eight years and we haven't gotten close to the championship one time. I think this team is capable, but it needs to do some things different. You know, create a better atmosphere, making guys feel appreciated, plus go out and get other players that they need to win the Super Bowl.

"If they don't do some things different -- and I'm not talking about the coaches -- if they don't make any moves toward trying to make things happen, then, yeah, I would go. It's not just that the team [he plays for] has to win the Super Bowl. It just has to make the moves to win a championship, show that it's trying to win the championship, whether it's Washington or Green Bay . . . I don't think they [the Eagles] are as committed as the Cowboys or Redskins. They haven't shown it."

The Eagles have 16 players who will be free to sign with any team after the Super Bowl, including fullback/tight end Keith Byars. White is still upset that the team let tight end Keith Jackson slip away to the Miami Dolphins this season in a contract dispute. And he has called for the team to sign defensive end Clyde Simmons and linebacker Seth Joyner before the final year of their contracts next season.

Speculation on where White would go has focused on the Redskins or Cowboys. If he does leave, the Eagles will attempt to reload with whatever predetermined compensation the NFL comes up with -- at least a first-round draft pick -- in accordance with the new collective bargaining agreement.

Holding the hot tickets

There will be a lot on the line when the Cowboys face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in the NFC championship game. And it goes beyond a trip to the Super Bowl.

For assistant coaches Dave Wannstedt of the Cowboys and Mike Shanahan of the 49ers, it's the chance to enhance their resumes for prospective head coaching jobs.

Wannstedt, the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, is believed to be general manager George Young's choice to coach the New York Giants. Shanahan, offensive coordinator for the 49ers, is believed to be Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen's leading candidate to replace the fired Dan Reeves. They will match X against O in a subplot to the championship game.

Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson has gone out of his way to promote Wannstedt, his closest friend and top adviser, for a head coaching job. The idea of Wannstedt coaching in New York -- against Dallas twice a year -- has intriguing implications. He knows the Cowboys from top to bottom, and was the only Cowboys assistant coach permitted in the draft room.

In Denver, Bowlen wants to become more involved in football operations, and Shanahan was a favorite of his when he worked under Reeves as offensive coordinator. Shanahan also spent a little more than a year as coach of the Los Angeles Raiders, altering the direction of the team before Al Davis dragged it back to silver and black.

Ready, aim, fire

One day after the Pittsburgh Steelers' season ended in a 24-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC divisional playoffs, backup quarterback Bubby Brister unloaded on starter Neil O'Donnell.

"If we had been inside the [Bills'] 40 seven times, I guarantee we would have gotten something done," Brister said. "I feel I'm the better quarterback. I feel I can outrun him and out-throw him . . . I'm not saying we would have won, but we would have had a chance."

O'Donnell, who played for the first time since cracking his right fibula Dec. 6, tried not to inflame the situation -- "I'm not going to get into a fighting match with Bubby."

But he clearly was bothered by the sneak attack.

"Bubby's more emotional than I am, I'm more poised," said O'Donnell, a Maryland graduate. "That's the way I am with football and the rest of my life. A better runner? I don't know. A better passer? I don't know.

"I share in the blame for not getting it done, but everyone on the offense played a role in it. We're all in this together."

Said Brister: "We're still friends, no matter what."

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