No shades of gray for Bucs QB Dilfer

On The NFL

July 18, 1999|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Trent Dilfer understands the rules for playing quarterback.

Quarterbacks may get too much credit for a team's success, but they also tend to get too much blame for failure.

Dilfer knows if the Buccaneers don't make the playoffs, he won't be in Tampa Bay next season.

"I feel no pressure whatsoever," he said. "I know if we don't win, I'll be somewhere else."

Dilfer threw 21 touchdown passes last year, but the team went 8-8 after making the playoffs the previous season.

"It's not a matter of numbers anymore," said Bucs general manager Rich McKay.

It's a matter of making the playoffs.

The Bucs sent Dilfer a message by drafting Shaun King in the second round and acquiring Eric Zeier from the Ravens.

To prepare for the challenge, Dilfer worked with a personal trainer in the off-season and lost some weight.

"My mind was always there last year. Sometimes you call on your body and the phrase I heard was, `Your talent writes checks but your body can't cash them sometimes.' My talent was writing those checks, but sometimes my body just couldn't cash them because of fatigue or whatever it might have been," he said.

His body was far from the only problem. The offense was too predictable.

But Dilfer accepts that the quarterback gets the blame.

"There were times [last year] I couldn't have played much better. But there weren't enough of those times, and the consistency wasn't there for myself and for the team. I think it starts with me," he said.

Second chances

Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson believes in redemption.

"This is the land of second chances. Be it a husband or a wife; whether it be president or who have you," he said.

Johnson, noted for bringing in problem players, did it again last week when he signed Auburn wide receiver Robert Baker, who was bypassed by all the teams in the recent supplemental draft just four months after he spent 10 months in jail on a cocaine-trafficking charge.

Johnson also drafted running back Cecil Collins in the fifth round despite his criminal record and signed veteran wide receiver Tony Martin, who will go on trial next month on a drug-money-laundering charge. Martin said he's innocent.

Johnson apparently does draw the line on third chances. He cut Lawrence Phillips in 1998 and Miami is not one of the teams interested in signing the running back after his successful season in NFL Europe.

Redskins pink slips

Dan Snyder, the new owner of the Washington Redskins, seems to have the style of former Colts owner Bob Irsay, who fired a receptionist and ticket manager when he took over the team in 1972.

Snyder, who closed on the deal last week, ordered the firing Friday of at least 23 Redskins employees, including public relations director Mike McCall, who had a top-flight reputation, and three members of his staff.

Snyder didn't bother to give the news to the employees himself. He sent two of his executives, Karl Swanson and former Ravens marketing director David Cope, to hand out the pink slips.

The employees weren't allowed to come in over the weekend to pack up their belongings. They were told to pack up and leave Friday night.

To fire most of the public relations staff just before training camp starts shows that Snyder doesn't understand the intricacies of operating a pro football team.

He even fired the public relations secretary, Phyllis Hayes, probably thinking she just answered the phone when she actually handled much of the nuts and bolts of the operation.

If this is a sneak preview of Snyder's operating style, the Redskins are likely to be a team in turmoil.

Last week, Snyder came up with the idea of trading for Detroit's Barry Sanders.

He didn't want to hear that the Lions can't trade him even if they wanted to -- which they don't -- because they'd take a $7.3 million hit against their salary cap this year if they dealt him.

Snyder has a lot to learn, and is likely to have a bumpy ride along the way.

Getting off the bike

New York Giants running back Gary Brown is done riding motorcycles after suffering a concussion and bruises and lacerations on his back when he was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in his hometown of Williamsport, Pa., on June 26.

"He's going to put them in the Susquehanna River," said Steve Dewar, his high school coach, after visiting him in the hospital. "He's no longer a bike person."

Brown hopes to be ready when camp opens July 30.

Around the league

In the latest incident involving troubled San Diego quarterback Ryan Leaf, he apologized for damage done to a hotel room he stayed in at a resort in Montana over the July 4 weekend.

A total of 115 unrestricted free agents, two restricted free agents and one transition player changed teams in this year's round of free agency. That was almost identical to last year, when 117 moved.

Look for the rookie signing season to heat up this week. Only five first-round picks and eight second-rounders have signed so far.

Running back Edgerrin James, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts over Ricky Williams, has selected an agent, Leigh Steinberg, who predicted James will be signed when camp opens.

Pub Date: 7/18/99

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