Thomas, Bills on rebound again

ON THE NFL

October 16, 1994|By VITO STELLINO

When Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas spotted owner Ralph Wilson in the end zone before last Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, he gave him a high-five, put his face mask up to Wilson's nose and said, "Are you ready?"

Wilson was ready, and so were the Bills.

"He just happened to be somebody in the end zone that I knew, and I just wanted to make sure the crowd got involved in the game," Thurman said.

With the wind taking away the Bills' no-huddle offense, Thomas, who sat out the loss to the Chicago Bears the week before with an injury, carried the team by running for 125 yards in 31 carries in the Bills' 21-11 victory over the Dolphins.

Thomas may be remembered for his Super Bowl gaffes -- the two fumbles against the Dallas Cowboys last year or losing his helmet against the Washington Redskins three years ago -- but he is gaining respect for his ability to come back from those disasters.

Like the entire Bills team, Thomas has put the past in the past and looks to the future.

It's obvious that Thomas hasn't taken his Super Bowl failures lightly. One of the most vivid pictures during last year's game was Thomas holding his head in his hands in anguish after his second fumble.

Coach Marv Levy later blamed himself for not consoling Thomas.

"I had the fumble against the Dolphins Sunday, and the first one to greet me on the sidelines was Marv Levy," Thomas said. "I wish he would have done it in the Super Bowl. It probably would have helped. But, hey, I'm a man about what happened in the Super Bowl. I take a lot of blame for it. At this point, I don't even worry about it."

Thomas said it didn't take long for him to put that game behind him.

"I put it out of my mind right away," he said. "I'm not the type of person who'll sit around and mope about something for a long period of time. I know you can't change anything after the game is played."

What he can do is keep trying to get back.

"The respect is going to come if we win a Super Bowl," he said.

The Bills have been hurt by free agency, losing both starting tackles, Will Wolford and Howard Ballard, and safety Nate Odomes the past two years.

But they're 4-2, and today they have their personal punching bag, the Indianapolis Colts, a team they have beaten eight of the past nine games, standing between them and a 5-2 mark going into the bye week.

E9 The Bills still have a good shot at going back again.

The Rams derby

How bad are things for the Los Angeles Rams?

Bob Bowser, the son of the oldest living NFL player, 95-year-old Arda Bowser, who played for the Canton Bulldogs in 1922, gave up his Rams season tickets.

"I couldn't get anybody to go with me," Bowser said. "Even when I gave them away, that person wouldn't show up."

When you can't give away tickets, it's time to move. Assuming the Rams are moving, nobody knows where.

The strange thing is that after officials from St. Louis and Baltimore met with Rams president John Shaw, they appeared to be pessimistic.

After Gov. William Donald Schaefer met with Shaw, he was downbeat when he came back, noting the Rams had talked about league opposition to a move to Baltimore.

When former Sen. Thomas Eagleton, who's spearing the St. Louis effort, came back last week, he said there were "many, many differences" and that Shaw had talked about the lack of football fervor in St. Louis. There had been indications St. Louis was going to give Shaw everything on his wish list, but Eagleton said many items were rejected.

So, the Rams situation remains as confusing as ever.

Meanwhile, the Rite to the Rams fan group in Baltimore keeps asking fans to write postcards to Shaw and owner Georgia Frontiere at 2327 West Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, Calif., 92801, telling them that the Rams will be welcome here.

Dennis Hand, one of the group's leaders, said it has sent more than 9,000 personally signed postcards and will have a get-together at Mount Washington Tavern on Wednesday night. Proceeds will go to Bea Gaddy's homeless shelter.

Goodbye to Laurel

It's easy being a consultant or a lawyer for Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke as long as you just tell him what he wants to hear.

But the Anne Arundel County administrative hearing officer's decision that the Laurel site wasn't big enough for a stadium is an example of Cooke seeing things only the way he wants to see them.

Cooke wasted a year on the Laurel project even though his consultants should have been able to tell him it wasn't feasible on that site.

In Baltimore, the project was viewed only from the prism of how it hurt the city's chances of getting a team.

But it was never a good idea for the Redskins. Suburban stadiums are an idea whose time has come and gone. Cooke belongs in Washington.

Meanwhile, somebody better give Cooke the word his team isn't

going to finish 9-7 this year as he predicted.

Trying times

Just a year ago, commissioner Paul Tagliabue had all the expansion cities meeting his every demand.

How times have changed. Now he's being virtually ignored.

He recommended that the owners realign along geographical lines. They rejected that idea because they didn't want to change current rivalries.

He then tried to get an Indianapolis-Tampa Bay swap so Indianapolis could have more Midwestern rivals.

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers said no because they didn't want three domed teams in their division. That ended that idea. Tagliabue now will have to settle for putting the expansion teams in the two four-team divisions -- Carolina in the NFC West and Jacksonville in the AFC Central.

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