CFLs hope They have noise solution

November 27, 1994|By Ken Murray and Roch Eric Kubatko | Ken Murray and Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writers

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Baltimore won a concession from the B.C. Lions yesterday on the subject of excessive noise at B.C. Place for today's 82nd Grey Cup.

The Lions have agreed to abide by a CFL rule that prohibits artificial stimulation.

What that means is, the team won't operate its Fan-O-Meter -- an electronic device that measures crowd noise -- while either team is running plays.

But the Fan-O-Meter can be used during timeouts, CFL spokesman Jim Neish said.

Said Jim Popp, director of player personnel for Baltimore: "We were told if they do it, [officials] will stop the game."

On the other side of the concession, though, the Lions have hired a professional cheerleader named "Crazy George" for the Grey Cup. He excites the crowd by banging on a drum while patrolling the area outside the playing field.

Popp said Crazy George would not be allowed to beat his drum "while we have the ball."

B.C. Place, a 12-year-old domed stadium, is considered the CFL's loudest facility. In an attempt to cope with the noise, Baltimore will wear earplugs designed to filter out high-decibel sounds. They should allow players to hear quarterback Tracy Ham's signals.

Another option is a silent snap count, which could make it tough on offensive linemen. With a silent count, center Nick Subis would snap the ball to Ham on a prearranged count.

"We would cheat our offensive linemen back a little like they do in the NFL," said offensive coordinator Steve Buratto. "Then they could see the ball."

Tackle Neal Fort said he would watch the defensive lineman across from him. "It makes things twice as hard," Fort said of the silent count. "But we can do it and be productive."

Wilson still hurting

Wide receiver Walter Wilson said he has been taking around-the-clock treatment for his separated right shoulder, which he injured in practice before last week's Eastern final.

"I get ice every two hours, and I take electrical stimulation three times a day," Wilson said. "It feels terrible, but I'm going to play. I nTC still can't raise it up."

B.C. secondary in flux

B.C. defensive halfback Enis Jackson won't get to play against his former team today. He was deactivated because of a broken thumb, necessitating two changes in the Lions' secondary from last week's Western Division final against the Calgary Stampeders.

Barry Wilburn, who started at cornerback last week in place of Less Browne, will move inside to halfback. Browne, the CFL's career leader in interceptions with 87, will replace Wilburn at one corner.

Rookie Tony Collier will come in when B.C. goes to a sixth defensive back, replacing a lineman.

Jackson was released by Baltimore during training camp. Wilburn won a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins. Defensive lineman Glen Scrivener (torn hamstring) and receiver Mike Trevathan (hepatitis) also won't play.

Philpot in Lions' doghouse

Baltimore's defense probably can expect to see B.C.'s Sean Millington getting most of the carries today.

Cory Philpot set a club record with 1,512 rushing yards this season, but he's been unreliable down the stretch and was a non-factor in two playoff games. He's averaged 32 yards in the past three games, and has experienced problems holding onto the ball. The former Mississippi standout also has been criticized for poor blocking and dropped passes.

Millington, a fourth-year pro, gained 522 yards and scored 11 touchdowns during the regular season, and added 131 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs. He had 13 carries for 77 yards in the Western Division final at Calgary, compared with Philpot's eight for 35.

"I've been playing all right, but I don't think I've done anything spectacular," Millington said. "They've just been giving me more of an opportunity and I've been taking advantage of it."

The CFLs' Mike Pringle is by far the more celebrated running back, and that's fine with Millington.

"Let Pringle get all the attention. Let all the pressure be on him," he said.

Mystery quarterback

B.C. coach Dave Ritchie hasn't backed off his initial decision to wait until an hour before the game to announce who will start at quarterback. He said both Kent Austin and Danny McManus were told Tuesday, but apparently have been sworn to secrecy.

Austin suffered a third-degree separation of his left shoulder in last week's game in Calgary, and McManus has been slowed by a thigh bruise, though he came on in relief against the Stampeders and led B.C. to a 37-36 win.

Most likely, if Austin can go, he'll start, with a healthier McManus standing by. Austin said his shoulder has improved, "but I'd also like to feel better."

Miscellaneous

The payoff per player for a Grey Cup victory is $12,000. If the CFLs win, they would have earned $16,400 per man in the postseason. . . . Popp won a preliminary coin toss yesterday that gave Baltimore the right to call today's coin toss. Popp called heads. . . . The ticket count reached 54,976 yesterday, almost 5,000 short of a sellout. Capacity is 59,478. . . . Winnipeg quarterback Matt Dunigan, who will work for CBC as an analyst today, picks Baltimore to win. "I'd like to see the Cup stay in Canada," he said. "But I think B.C. will be hard-pressed to keep it here. They have to play a whale of a game at the line of scrimmage. It's Baltimore's game to win or lose."

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