O'Donnell to Brown: Believe in yourself

October 19, 1994|By Newsday

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Like Dave Brown, Neil O'Donnell grew up in New Jersey; in Madison, where the New York Giants currently hold training camp. And like Brown, O'Donnell grew up a Giants fan who dreamed of playing quarterback for his favorite team.

But unlike Brown, the Giants' supplemental first-round draft choice in 1992, O'Donnell went in the third round in 1990 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, for whom he has started at quarterback for most of the last three seasons.

So, as one Jersey guy to another, O'Donnell offered some advice yesterday to Brown, whose inconsistent play has been a key factor in the Giants' three-game losing streak.

"I hear he's getting some heat up there," O'Donnell said. "It's part of the job. Quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses."

Then he added, "One thing you have to do is stop reading what all the critics are saying and you have to believe in yourself. Everyone else is going to tell you how bad you are, and you just have to look back on the positive things. You have to build on that. You take the positives and you learn from your mistakes."

O'Donnell has had his own highs and lows as a Steeler, making the Pro Bowl after his first full season as a starter in 1992 and playing most of last year with tendinitis in his throwing elbow.

"You have to be your hardest critic," O'Donnell said, "but don't get too high on the highs and too low on the lows because you have to go out there next Sunday and do it again."

The two Jersey guys will meet Sunday when the Giants (3-3) host the Steelers (4-2). Coach Dan Reeves has said that if Brown, who has thrown seven interceptions in his last three games, has another poor performance, he could lose his job to Kent Graham.

O'Donnell has been there. He split duties with Bubby Brister for much of 1991 before becoming firmly entrenched as the starter in 1992.

"Every starting quarterback has the same pressures on him," O'Donnell said. "You heard it Monday night how Joe Montana can't throw the long ball anymore and he's getting old and maybe they need a change. [Dan] Marino went through it in training camp with people saying he should retire. But the quarterbacks have to worry about what they have to do. Our job is to win. We're going to take most of the heat for it when we lose. But you just have to stay focused because it is a long season."

The youngest of nine children, O'Donnell is active in several charitable causes, particularly the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. This season he is donating $100 for every touchdown scored by the Steelers' offense or defense. "Those kids put everything in perspective," he said.

Around the league

The Colts agreed to remain in Indianapolis for the next 20 years in exchange for public help in financing a new practice facility. The Colts, already committed to staying until 2009, extended their lease of the RCA Dome to 2014. . . . An NFL spokesman said San Francisco 49ers cornerback Deion Sanders and Atlanta Falcons receiver Andre Rison can expect to be fined for their fight in Sunday's game. The minimum fine for fighting is $4,000. . . . The NFL has notified clubs that they can wear "Throwback" uniforms an additional two games but cannot -- unless having made arrangements before the season -- wear them beyond next weekend. . . . Colts linebacker Jeff Herrod

was arrested and charged with drunken driving.

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