Sanders' arrest is latest fishy Cowboys incident

On The NFL

June 23, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Don't expect to see this scene in Deion Sanders' next commercial.

Sanders was fishing in a private lake on the property of the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla., last week, ignoring the no-fishing and no-trespassing signs.

When two officers from the Lee County Port Authority Police Department told him to bring his small boat in from the lake, it took him about 15 minutes to respond.

"He was saying things like, 'Call the Coast Guard because I'm not coming in,' " police chief Gary Gossner said.

When he finally did come in, police arrested him on a trespassing charge under their three-strikes-and-you're-out policy. They had verbally warned him on May 7 and given him a written warning on May 9.

Sanders, being Sanders, cheerfully admitted he was guilty afterward.

"I broke the law," he said. "The only defense I have is that I'm sorry, but they were biting. I wasn't out there 10 minutes and they caught me. But I had 10 fish by that time."

He was allowed to keep the fish.

In a tumultuous off-season for the Dallas Cowboys, this latest incident was virtually comic relief.

It's not as serious as Michael Irvin's drug charges or as tawdry as the reports that the Cowboys rented a home near their complex where they had parties with women who weren't their wives.

But it was a perfect insight into the mind-set of the Cowboys. From the owner on down, they have the attitude that they can make their own rules.

Police said they couldn't remember arresting anybody for violating the no-fishing signs in the private lake because a warning was usually enough to deter them.

Not for Sanders. Hey, at worst he'll only pay a fine on the misdemeanor charge. And the prosecutor isn't even sure he'll bother with the case, although a hearing was set for July 7.

Gossner said, "It's a shame that people that have celebrity status feel as if they are sometimes above the law."

For the Cowboys and Sanders, it's just business as usual.

Moving on

When cornerbacks Tim Jacobs signed with the Miami Dolphins and Michael Davis was claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Eagles last week, they became the 12th and 13th former Browns to join other teams this year.

Overall, only three of the 20 veterans who were free agents or didn't have their contracts renewed -- Earnest Byner, Brian Kinchen and Ed Sutter -- were re-signed by the Ravens.

They did retain their three restricted free agents. Dan Footman got a two-year, $3.2 million deal while Steve Everitt and Mike Caldwell accepted the one-year tender offers of $785,000 and $361,000, respectively.

Ozzie Newsome, the director of football operations, said it's a positive sign that 13 former Browns will be in other uniforms in camp.

"It speaks well for the talent we had on this team," Newsome said.

The Ravens still have 46 former Browns on the roster and Newsome said: "We made the decision to keep the best of the group and that's what we've done. The core of this team will be the same. It'll have a lot of the same chemistry."

So far, the Ravens have added two veterans in the off-season -- Jeff Blackshear and Greg Montgomery -- but they'll probably add a few more at bargain prices -- running back Gary Brown is one leading candidate -- once they restructure some contracts to get cap room.

With such salary-cap numbers as Eric Turner at $3.3 million, Andre Rison at $3 million, Rob Burnett at $2.5 million, Tony Jones at $2.4 million, Leroy Hoard at $1.87 million, Michael Jackson at $1.78 million, Stevon Moore at $1.77 million, Footman at $1.45 million, Anthony Pleasant at $1.44 million and Don Griffin at $1.3 million, the Ravens are a bit top heavy and are only $15,000 under the cap.

Many teams, though, aren't in better shape. For example, Houston is only $147,000 under the cap, Oakland $152,000, San Francisco $183,000 and Buffalo $266,000.

Newsome remains upbeat about the way the Ravens are putting together their roster.

"We've got a chance to have a successful season," Newsome said.

Raljon?

Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke says his new stadium in Landover will be built in a place he's named Raljon for his sons Ralph and John.

But don't look for the name Raljon on maps any time soon.

The U.S. board on geographic names won't recognize a commemorative name like Raljon unless the person has been dead for five years. Ralph Cooke died last year but John is the team's executive vice president.

So the maps will continue to list the location as Landover.

Incidentally, Cooke doesn't have to worry about architects complaining about the look of his stadium. It'll be just another generic suburban football stadium in the middle of a parking lot.

The stadium is under construction because Cooke is trying to get it done for 1997, but he hasn't had the official ground-breaking yet.

It's sober party time

The Green Bay Packers are not only preparing for this season on the field, they're making plans for their conduct off it.

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