Johnson, Chrebet make case for replay

On the NFL

November 16, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet have one thing in common.

The two New York Jets wide receivers will never be close after Johnson trashed Chrebet in his book last spring, but they both have the knack for making catches that may help bring back instant replay.

Last year, Johnson's touchdown catch against the Washington Redskins that the officials turned into a Tom Carter interception helped stir up the debate.

It fell three votes shy last March, but it may be closer to passing now that the officials nullified a fourth-down, fourth-quarter catch by Chrebet last week that killed the Jets' comeback chances in a 24-17 loss to Miami.

The reason that could be vital is Parcells that Jets' coach Bill Parcells was a key vote against instant replay last year.

Parcells didn't like the provision in which a team would lose a timeout if it called for a replay challenge even if the call was overturned.

Parcells went ballistic on the field after the officials took the catch away from Chrebet, but wouldn't criticize the call publicly or say whether he'd change his vote on replay next year.

"I'm not talking about it. I was more open minded toward it after working with TV, but whatever they decide is fine with me," Parcells said.

Last year, the three critical votes cast against it were by Parcells, Raiders owner Al Davis and Jerry Jones of the Cowboys, who says he won't cast the vote to kill it. So if Parcells and Davis favor it, look for instant replay to return.

It just happened that an ex-Jet receiver Rob Moore of Arizona was the victim of another bad call last Sunday that negated an Arizona comeback attempt against the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, Charley Casserly general manager of the Redskins, a leading proponent of instant replay, said the team will again present a proposal next year to bring back replay.

"As I said at the end of the meeting last year, this thing will not go away. My position is we'll wait until the season's over and get to work on the thing," Casserly said.

The blown calls on the Chrebet and Moore plays may help make the difference this time.

Legal file

The NFL got the green light in St. Louis to continue to ignore the antitrust laws.

Judge Jean Hamilton, a former corporate attorney, threw out the St. Louis antitrust suit against the league even though the jury voted 10-2 in a first straw poll in favor of St. Louis.

The jury was not happy with her ruling that the city hadn't made its case.

One juror, Beth Edwards, said, "I'm highly upset. They should have let us make a decision, knowing all the time we put in."

St. Louis was confident after the grilling commissioner Paul Tagliabue got on the stand.

"I didn't believe Paul Tagliabue," said another juror, Richard Poole. "He just wasn't believeable."

Among other things, Tagliabue first denied he had written the league's relocation guidelines, then had to admit he did.

That prompted a St. Louis TV station to go with a promo, "Tagliabue lies in federal court. Details at 10."

The St. Louis lawyers will appeal and feel they have a shot because Hamilton wouldn't let them introduce evidence about moves made after the St. Louis move. That meant they couldn't tell the jury that Oakland wasn't charged a relocation fee the way they were.

Unless St. Louis wins on appeal, the league will apparently be able to charge what it wants when teams move.

It also means that Ravens owner Art Modell, who supported the league in the suit, will have to pay a $29 million relocation fee. Tagliabue admitted the league had no formula for coming up with the $29 million figure, but it's probably not a coincidence that it adds up to $1 million for each of the other 29 teams.

The holdout

Sean Gilbert, sitting out the season in Aliquippa, Pa., because the Redskins offered him $4 million a year and he wanted $4.5 million, is still a happy man.

That's the word from close friends and associates of the defensive lineman, who is not giving interviews.

Gilbert's a religious man and has told fiends that after prayer and meditation, he determined that his holdout was God's will.

"You obey what you believe is obedience to the word of God. Obviously, in Sean's case, it transcends money. If it was about money and greed, he would have done it. Sean's filled with joy. He has peace and joy in his heart because he knows he's being obedient," one friend said.

Gilbert knows this message is greeted with skepticism in the football world, but that doesn't bother him and he's not going to change his mind.

"God never changes his mind," a friend said.

Since the Redskins say they're going to keep the franchise-player tag on Gilbert in 1998, he may sit out next year, also.

Gilbert, though, has no animosity against the Redskins.

"He loves the Redskins," a friend said.

Stadium woes

The nation's stadium building boom may be slowing.

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