Stricter DB rule is touchy subject


September 09, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

The NFL seems to have two sets of rules at times -- the one on the books and the one the officials actually call in a game.

One example has been forbidding defensive backs to bump receivers more than 5 yards off the line of scrimmage.

As cornerback Tom Carter found out last year as a rookie with the Washington Redskins, defensive backs were getting a lot of leeway.

"They weren't enforcing the rule," he said.

In an effort to put more scoring into the game, the league decided it would strictly enforce the rule this year and not even allow the defensive backs to touch the receivers after 5 yards.

It just happened that scoring went up in the first week of the season compared with last year's first week. Touchdowns jumped from 63 to 78, points increased from 587 to 652, passing yardage increased from 5,625 to 6,235 and field goals decreased from 47 to 36.

Nobody's sure whether enforcing the bumping rule was a significant factor, though New York Giants coach Dan Reeves says it was.

"They're finally calling something that's been a rule for a long time. Now they've opened up passing some," Reeves said.

Redskins coach Norv Turner said he thought the rule pushing the kickoff back to the 30 had a greater effect because it gave the teams better field position.

Meanwhile, Redskins cornerback Darrell Green says he doesn't think officials will call defensive backs for touching receivers downfield.

"You're going to have some ugly football" if they call it that close because there would be so many penalties, Green said.

Green said he didn't change his style Sunday and wasn't penalized.

"I guarantee you I was touching guys in the areas they could have called," he said. "I don't think I did anything I should have gotten a call for. According to their rules, I probably should have."

Redskins secondary coach Emmitt Thomas predicts scoring will increase because of the change.

"You've got a lot of quick, fast guys out there and you can't slow them down now," he said.

Bucs bidding starts

The first bid for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since the Aug. 25 death of owner Hugh Culverhouse was announced yesterday.

Socrates Babacas, a Massachusetts real estate developer, told the Tampa Tribune he will bid $175 million for the team and will keep it in Tampa if he gets it. He said his partners include two of the biggest names in the Florida citrus industry, but he didn't identify them.

Babacas previously had looked at buying the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles but never made a formal bid.

"I want people to realize we are not on an ego trip," Babacas said. "This is very real. This group has substance."

However, his bid is $25 million less than the $200 million Orioles owner Peter Angelos offered before Culverhouse died.

Since Culverhouse died, Angelos has declined to comment on the bidding for the Bucs, saying it wouldn't be appropriate to discuss the situation while the Culverhouse family is in mourning. The trustees have said they don't plan to study the bids until the end of the season.

Angelos, of course, would drop out of the bidding if he manages to make a deal with the Los Angeles Rams. John Shaw, the Rams' executive vice president, has told the Los Angeles Times that talks are farther along with Baltimore than any other city but that he's not yet close to a deal. The paper also reported that Shaw and Angelos have scheduled another meeting later this month.

Angelos declined to confirm whether a meeting has been set, but a source familiar with the talks said it will be held within two weeks.

Around the league

Raiders running back Napoleon McCallum was released from Stanford University Medical Center after injuring his left knee in Los Angeles' loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. He underwent surgery to replace an artery in his left leg, but further tests will be necessary to determine the extent of the damage. A magnetic resonance imaging Wednesday was inconclusive because of the extensive post-surgery bleeding. . . . San Francisco tackle Harris Barton, a Pro Bowl selection last season, had surgery to repair his torn left triceps tendon, and the news afterward was not good for the 49ers: He likely will miss the next 10 weeks of the season, not four to six weeks as first believed. . . . A judge increased Darryl Henley's bail to $600,000 while the Los Angeles Rams cornerback awaits trial on cocaine trafficking charges. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Taylor's decision was a compromise between a plea by Henley's attorney to keep the bail at $200,000 and a motion by a federal prosecutor to boost the bail to $1 million.

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