Diluted NFL pool to feel drain of 2 more teams

October 28, 1993|By Steve Kelley | Steve Kelley,Seattle Times

Let's hear it for the Carolina Panthers! Let's welcome the latest addition to the colorless mass of mediocrity in the National Football League.

Hold your applause for Baltimore, St. Louis, Memphis, Tenn., and Jacksonville, Fla. The lords of football have decided those cities must wait another month to learn which will be the league's co-fodder franchise. St. Louis is the favorite.

Soon we will have two more undistinguished, indistinguishable teams to throw at you. Two more 7-9 teams coming into your living room every sleepy Sunday.

Already you can't tell the teams, let alone the players, without a scorecard.

The Indianapolis Colts look like the New York Jets, who resemble the Atlanta Falcons, who are just like the Los Angeles Rams, who aren't much different from the Los Angeles Raiders, who bear a striking resemblance to the Phoenix Cardinals.

Expansion. It's as tasty as a watered-down vodka at a fern bar.

Expansion. The triumph of quantity over quality.

Expansion. It guarantees us we will see Bubby Brister throwing interceptions into the next millenium. It guarantees work for Ken O'Brien and Scott Secules, Jeff George and Billy Joe Tolliver.

Jim McMahon will be a starter for another 10 years. Jason Garrett will be a star. Jim Everett will be overthrowing receivers when our grandkids are grown.

Expansion. Where are they going to find another 110-plus players to throw into this already-diluted pool?

Expansion. Didn't the NFL watch the World Series? Didn't it see what expansion has done to baseball?

The two best teams -- Toronto and Philadelphia -- couldn't muster a decent pitching staff between them. Take away Juan Guzman, Pat Hentgen, Duane Ward, Curt Schilling and Roger Mason and you had the Pacific Coast League arms in the fall classic.

Now that we've seen Mitch Williams in the World Series, can Mike Tomczak in the Super Bowl be far behind?

There aren't enough quarterbacks to go around now. Where are they going to find the six needed to play for the two new teams?

Paging Todd Marinovich, Casey Weldon, David Archer, Bob Gagliano. Heck, if I were Jim Zorn I'd start serious workouts. If I were Terry Bradshaw, I'd announce my plans to unretire on the next "NFL Today."

Three cheers for greed. Let's have a standing ovation for gluttony and a moment of silence for entertainment.

This season already has felt like a glorified punt, pass and kick competition, with heavy emphasis on the punt and kick. Do we really need two more bland teams to soften our Sundays?

The NFL used to be salsa. It is becoming oatmeal.

Quick, name five players on the Tampa Bay Bucs. Name eight Cincinnati Bengals, 10 Los Angeles Rams.

T.J. Rubley will be the Rams' starting quarterback this week in San Francisco. T.J. Rubley! T.J. Rubley?

Look at this week's games. Take away Kansas City at Miami and it's another thunderous dud of a weekend.

Oh, yeah, give me a couple of high-priced, 50-yard-line seats for that New England-Indianapolis clash. Call my broker to see if I can afford tickets for New Orleans at Phoenix, or Tampa Bay at Atlanta.

What's the Monday night game? Buffalo at Washington? Channel surfers will be jumping off that wave quicker than you can say Murphy Brown. "Monday Night Football" has become the official home of the false start.

Eight weeks into the season, and it already is apparent nobody can touch the Dallas Cowboys.

Green Bay thought it had bought a contender. The Packers lost in Dallas by 22. San Francisco thought it could challenge again. The Niners lost by nine in Dallas.

Parity? There are 27 teams and then there are the Cowboys. Only the occasional bye week stops Dallas.

There seems to be one great game and eight gray games every weekend. TNT's Sunday night menu belongs on some remote cable channel only action-starved people along the Bering Sea receive.

And now we'll have two more teams in 1995 and probably a couple more before the end of the century. Soon we'll have an 18-game regular season.

We'll have Browning Nagle sacked inside Carolina's crumbling pocket. We'll have fortysomething Steve DeBerg starting in Baltimore, or St. Louis, or somewhere else.

And you thought the World League was dead. It didn't die. It simply merged with the NFL. Carolina is just the Barcelona Dragons and Frankfurt Galaxy with a face-lift.

But let's welcome Charlotte. Let's get ready for Baltimore or St. Louis. They will provide company for the Bucs and the Cardinals, the Colts, the Seahawks and Patriots. They will provide more fat for the ever-expanding midsection of the NFL.

Paging Rusty Hilger.

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