At RFK today, real coaching brethren

On the NFL

September 08, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Ron Turner not only isn't his brother's keeper, he could become his brother's nemesis today.

That's the odd situation the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears finds himself in when his team plays the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium.

Ron Turner, 42, has been coaching football for 20 years, four in the NFL, and is being mentioned as a possible future head coach.

"I'd like that opportunity," he said.

His problem today is that he could make it more difficult for his brother, Norv, to keep his head coaching job.

Norv, 44, has been coaching 22 years, 12 in the NFL, and is in his third year as the head coach of the Redskins.

The two brothers are very close. They were in a family of five raised by their mother on welfare in a housing project in Martinez, Calif., after their father abandoned the family.

Ron said: "Norv tried to include me in everything we did."

Norv said: "Ron and I were awfully close, but I don't think I took him under my wing. We had similar interests."

This is the first time the two brothers have been on opposite sides in the NFL, although Norv's USC teams beat Ron's Arizona teams in 1979 and 1980, when both were assistant coaches.

The stakes are different this time. Norv is desperate for a victory. This was supposed to be the turnaround year for the Redskins after they went 9-23 in his first two years.

Instead, the Redskins were flat in their 17-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the opener.

If the Redskins lose, Norv will start out 0-2 after a pair of home games. It could be difficult to rebound for a winning season and likely would raise questions about whether Norv is a good head coach.

It might even make it more difficult for Ron to get a head coaching job if his brother can't turn the Redskins around.

"I'd rather not [play this game], but you don't have a choice. The game's on the schedule. You do your best to win," Ron said.

Even the head coach, Dave Wannstedt, is a close friend of Norv's. They were assistants together in Dallas.

"I'd rather play a bunch of guys you don't like," Wannstedt said.

The stadium game

The city of Tampa, Fla., came up with a new idea to finance a stadium. First, get the owner to finance about half of it, then piggyback a tax increase on to help with the schools, public works and police.

That's what Tampa did last week when the voters approved a 30-year, half-cent tax increase.

Only 12 percent of the $2.7 billion raised by the bill will go toward the stadium. The rest will go to schools, roads, sewers, parks and public safety.

Meanwhile, owner Malcolm Glazer apparently isn't ready to try to repair his tattered reputation. He was the target of much public criticism because he said he was going to move the team if the vote lost.

After the vote passed, Glazer said: "I've made a few mistakes, maybe a lot of mistakes, since we've been here. You'll have to forgive me. It's the first time I've owned an NFL team."

The Tampa vote now complicates the Cleveland situation, because the Bucs were the logical team to go there. Now, there's no obvious candidate. Arizona would be one, but owner Bill Bidwill doesn't want to give up the Cardinals nickname that dates back to 1899.

The iron man

When Walter Payton was a rookie in 1975, the Chicago Bears held him out of a game at Pittsburgh so his sore ankle wouldn't be aggravated by the Steel Curtain defense.

After the game, a reporter went up to Payton and said, "Jim

Brown never did that."

"Never did what?" Payton asked.

"Miss a game," the reporter replied.

Payton never missed another one.

The great ones have a knack for being quick healers.

That's why it's not surprising that Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys, who's missed only one game with an injury, likely will play today after being taken off on a stretcher Monday night with a neck injury.

Incidentally, it's silly to knock coach Barry Switzer for having Smith still in a 22-6 game with 3: 41 left. That's two scores -- two touchdowns and two two-pointers. It's a long, long shot, but not impossible to overcome.

Empty seats

It was no surprise that the lame-duck Houston Oilers drew the smallest crowd in the league in the opener -- 27,752.

What's startling is that the second-smallest crowd in the league was in Indianapolis, where the Colts drew 48,133 after making the AFC title game last January.

There are almost 18,000 unsold tickets for every Colts game -- including the one against the Ravens -- except the Miami Dolphins game. The Colts have a little more than 7,000 unsold tickets for that game.

In the bank

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Greg Lloyd had one consolation when he was lost for the season last week with a knee injury.

Rather than wait to become a free agent next year, he accepted a three-year, $11.2 million contract extension with a $2.7 million signing bonus this spring.

If Lloyd had stayed healthy and become a free agent, he might have gotten more. But the injury would have cut his market value.

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