Braman taking his hits in Philadelphia, but vows club is better despite defections

PRO FOOTBALL

August 01, 1993|By VITO STELLINO

When Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell decided to conduct a poll on his standing with the voters last March, he wanted to include an unpopular figure to make it easier to compare the results.

After some debate, his aides came up with the perfect choice: Norman Braman, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The results were predictable.

The mayor received a 79 percent favorable rating and a 16 percent unfavorable rating. Braman's favorable rating was only 12 percent. The surprise was that Braman's unfavorable rating was only 30 percent. The rest of the people polled hadn't heard of him or had no opinion.

When the poll was leaked to the media, Braman wasn't too pleased.

"If Ed Rendell is using Norman Braman in a political poll, I feel sorry for the people of Philadelphia and the future of this city," he said.

Braman, though, is fortunate the mayor didn't conduct the poll last week.

Imagine what his unfavorable rating would be now that his team has lost 11 free agents, including a few who signed for less money with their new teams just to get out of town.

The Eagles have made an art form of getting a bad image. New coach Rich Kotite opened camp by installing a gag order on his players, prompting a protest from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an editorial calling Kotite an "insecure, paranoid, defensive, personal cold fish of a coach."

His gag order, of course, doesn't apply to ex-Eagles, who are doing their best to trash their old team.

There's the former coach, Buddy Ryan, now the Houston Oilers' defensive coordinator who said of Kotite, "If you can't stand the heat, you ought to get out of the kitchen."

There's Reggie White, who said he probably would have left even if the Eagles had matched the Green Bay Packers' $17 million offer because "if they would have done that for me, they would have forgotten about the rest of the guys."

There's Jim McMahon, who's now in Minnesota, saying the Eagles never will win a Super Bowl with Randall Cunningham at quarterback.

"You don't ever see a team win a Super Bowl without a quarterback who knows what he's doing," McMahon said.

Despite all the problems, though, Braman remains upbeat.

"We're going to have a heck of a team," Braman said. "An exciting team. A playoff team. A team that will challenge the Dallas Cowboys."

Defending Kotite, he said: "The coach has to be reflective of the owner. And I like the type of reflection I get with Richie Kotite."

He scoffed at the speculation the Eagles are on the verge of collapse.

"I read that Keith Byars said we were on the verge of greatness [before the defections]," he said. "What we were on the verge of was a cliff. I defy anyone to lay out a chart of this year's team with last year's and not see that we're measurably better."

He laughed as he added, "We may not be geniuses here, but, by God, we're not idiots, either."

The expansion derby

The NFL made it obvious it wants to keep Memphis, Tenn., among the contenders in the expansion derby. City officials said commissioner Paul Tagliabue encouraged them to stay in the race.

The NFL wants to make a big production out of expansion and doesn't want it to appear that St. Louis and Baltimore are winning by default.

Meanwhile, Baltimore's bid is getting stronger by the day. It is well on the way to a sellout of its luxury boxes and club seats at the halfway mark in the campaign.

As Baltimore heads down the stretch, there are reports from Canada that Baltimore is one of several cities the Canadian Football League is interested in.

But Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said he hasn't been contacted by any CFL officials and said the city has no interest in the CFL.

To dome or not to dome

Although Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass is exploring the feasibility of putting a dome on the football stadium, he'll probably find it's not feasible. Domed stadiums, generally, don't generate enough revenue.

Baltimore's football fans are better off without a dome. No team with a domed stadium has made it to the Super Bowl. Playing indoors seems to change the character of a team, as the Vikings found out when they moved to the Metrodome.

The man Buddy replaced

Don't feel sorry for Jim Eddy, who was fired as Houston Oilers defensive coordinator after the team blew a 32-point playoff lead to the Buffalo Bills.

Eddy was subsequently hired by the Dallas Cowboys as a defensive assistant.

"I was made the scapegoat, and that was wrong and ridiculous," said Eddy, who was replaced by Buddy Ryan. "But I knew I'd land on my feet. How's being with the world champions for landing on your feet?

"I have no great animosity toward the Oilers. It shouldn't have ever happened, but I'm going to look at it this way: Maybe it was a great break for me."

Jones vs. Smith

In the latest chapter in the Jerry Jones-Emmitt Smith holdout battle, the Dallas Cowboys owner said he might offer Smith only the $703,500 minimum for 1993 if he doesn't agree to a long-term deal.

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