Bailey awaits a Super chance, says he'll 'make the difference'

January 28, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Carlton Bailey thinks something special is going to happen in Super Bowl XXVII on Sunday. And he thinks it's going to happen to him.

"For some strange reason, I feel like I'll play linebacker Sunday, and I'm going to make the difference," said Bailey, a Baltimore native and five-year veteran with the Bills.

It would be a refreshing twist for Bailey and the Bills if it happens. The Bills have lost the past two Super Bowls, and are underdogs against the Dallas Cowboys this year. Bailey, meanwhile, hasn't started a game since Dec. 6 against the New York Jets. A week later, he was demoted when outside linebacker Cornelius Bennett was moved to an inside linebacker position.

After starting all 19 games at inside linebacker for the Bills a year ago, Bailey suddenly has a hazy future in Buffalo. He becomes a free agent March 1.

This could be his final game with the Bills, who drafted him out of North Carolina in the ninth round in 1988. Bailey said he thought he had been playing well enough to keep his job when he was demoted before a Dec. 12 game against the Denver Broncos. He had suffered a groin injury in the sixth game against the Los Angeles Raiders, but played through the injury.

"It gets to the point where you don't know what else you need to do," said Bailey, who was a football star and Baltimore County 330-yard hurdles champion at Woodlawn High.

Bailey, 29, ranked seventh on the Bills in tackles in the regular season, but has played sparingly during the postseason.

The Bills have one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL with Bennett, Shane Conlan and Darryl Talley. Marvcus Patton became the fourth starter, replacing Bennett on the outside.

Bennett, nursing a pulled hamstring, practiced yesterday for thefirst time in January. He is expected to play Sunday. If so, that would leave Bailey on the bench again.

"At first I was upset and disappointed," Bailey said of the demotion. "I guess that's the human side of me. The only thing I can say is, I handled it like a man."

Bailey said that if Baltimore lands team by 1995, he would like to finish his career at home.

"My goal is to play 10 years," he said, "and I'd like to play the last two or three in Baltimore."

The ghost of Norwood

Scott Norwood is gone, but the memory of his missed 47-yard field-goal attempt in the Super Bowl two years ago against the New York Giants lingers. The Bills lost that game, 20-19, when Norwood's kick sailed wide right with four seconds left.

Norwood was cut last summer, leaving the Bills' kicking job to Steve Christie, acquired in Plan B free agency.

"I don't even think about the game, now, tomorrow, or even during the game," Christie said. "My concentration is always on my mechanics. I try to block everything out except the things I have to do to make a kick. My focus is the ball, not on what happened to Buffalo two years ago in the Super Bowl."

When it counts

Cornerback Nate Odomes says the Bills' experience in big games should come into play in the fourth quarter Sunday.

"For the first three quarters, execution will be important for both teams," Odomes said.

"In the fourth, you may have to win the ballgame. I would like to think we have the edge. But both clubs have won big games."

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