When the Cincinnati Bengals signed quarterback Jay Schroeder a year ago, Ron Lynn had heard all the stories about the quarterback's stormy past.
That's why Lynn, who was the Bengals' defensive coordinator and now holds the same job for the Washington Redskins, was surprised to find Schroeder such a mature player who was more than willing to tutor young David Klingler.
"I thought when he came he exhibited a lot more maturity, a lot more of the good qualities, than I had expected because I had heard some, not horror stories, but stories about [him being] a little bit spoiled, a little bit head strong and all that kind of thing. But he was none of that," Lynn said.
Those stories date to Schroeder's days with the Redskins when he openly sulked after being benched for Doug Williams late in the 1987 season.
He watched while Williams led the team to the Super Bowl and all but forced a trade to the Los Angeles Raiders at the start of the next season. There, he spent the next five years.
Schroeder and Lynn then forged a bond when Schroeder's son, Christopher, who was then 6, developed a brain tumor a year ago. Lynn's son, Alec, had died of leukemia 15 months earlier.
Christopher's tumor turned out to be benign and he has recovered.
"There's no question that changed my whole life," Schroeder said. "No question about it. Football is a game. Yes, it's my work and I take it very seriously. But win or lose, it's not life or death. When your little boy has a 50-50 chance of coming out of surgery, that's an eye-opener."
Schroeder now can look back on his Redskins days from a different perspective.
"At the time, it hurt," he said. "I think I grew from it as an individual. There's going to be a lot of ups and downs in this game."
Schroeder has had his share. He never lived up to his expectations with the Raiders. In Cincinnati, he was waived at the start of this season when he refused to take a pay cut. He was signed by the Arizona Cardinals and has become the starter because Steve Beuerlein has been injured.
He'll play against the Redskins today for only the second time since he left. In the first meeting in 1992, he had a sore arm and didn't last the first half.
But, "he's still got a bit of that gunslinger mentality," Lynn said with a smile.
) Some things never change.
The Bucs derby
As the trustees for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers open the second round of negotiations to sell the team, nobody in Tampa has emerged who says they'll come close to matching the $200 million offer from Orioles owner Peter Angelos.
In Tampa, they're saying the city doesn't have the stadium or the corporate strength to support that kind of price.
"Tampa is not Baltimore and never will be Baltimore," Palm Beach businessman George Lindemann, heading one of the groups trying to keep the team in Tampa, told the Tampa Tribune.
The one person who's not commenting is George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees owner who is being counted on by Tampa fans to make a strong bid.
Tampa, though, seems to have a curious fallback position. It seems to be hoping that Angelos isn't serious about offering $200 million.
A St. Petersburg columnist, Hubert Mizell, wrote last week, "I think the Baltimore buzzard, Peter Angelos, may be bluffing. If the owner of the Orioles is serious about making a $200 million offer for the Bucs, as Angelos has so often promised, where is his check?"
Angelos seems puzzled by such comments. After all, he did pay $173 million for the Orioles.
Angelos was more concerned about a USA Today columnist who wrote last week, "If Angelos bids high [he has a $200 million offer on the table] and loses, he'll go after the NFL and the Bucs in court."
Angelos wants to downplay talk of court action. Any court fight wouldn't begin until he gets a deal with the trustees and is blocked from moving by the NFL.
Meanwhile, he's trying to sell Baltimore rather than threaten the league.
"I'm trying to make Baltimore's case in the most favorable and effective way," Angelos said. "I want people to understand what a great football town Baltimore is and how well a franchise would do here. And I'm keeping the commissioner apprised of what I'm doing. He's entitled to be consulted. I'm not interested in a confrontation."
The battle for Los Angeles
On Monday night, commissioner Paul Tagliabue was at the San Diego-Los Angeles Raiders game telling reporters that it was "extremely unlikely" the Los Angeles-Orange County area would be left without a football team.
He said he had talked with Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and "several people in the private sector" about building a stadium in the area.
"We'll work through our difficulties in L.A. and I think we'll emerge with one strong franchise or two strong franchises," he said.
Two days later, Orange County filed for bankruptcy because its derivative investments went sour.
That financial shock wave will make it even more difficult for the county to keep the Rams or to get a new stadium built in the Los Angeles area.