- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

General manager John Butler has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Top pick Quentin Jammer is holding out, the only player among the NFL's top five choices to be doing so. The team is playing for its fourth coach in five years and hasn't made the playoffs since 1995.

However, there is some good news in San Diego. Veteran Doug Flutie and youngster Drew Brees aren't letting their battle for the starting quarterback job rip apart the locker room, as it did when Flutie and Rob Johnson waged a similar fight in Buffalo in 2000. Johnson accused Flutie of stabbing him in the back and trying to poison teammates against him after he was promoted to the starting lineup. Johnson once suggested they should duke it out.

In contrast, Flutie and Brees have been on good terms since Brees was drafted out of Purdue last year. They visit each other's homes, golf together during down time and eat together at training camp. When Brees was preparing to propose to his girlfriend in January, Flutie was one of the first people he told. Flutie appreciated it when the rookie never played backseat driver as he and the team struggled during the second half of 2001.

"Drew said all the right things," Flutie said. "He was first class all the way. We're very similar. We've gotten along from Day1. We've talked about [the competition]. Whatever happens, we'll accept it and move forward."

Of course that's easier said than done, because unlike most positions where backups generally see some action, No.2 quarterbacks only play if the starter slumps, gets hurt or the game gets out of hand.

"If I was a jerk about it, like, 'I'm competing with you; I can't talk to you; I can't sit next to you at lunch,' if I was like that, then I'm sure he'd be like 'Who is this joker?'" Brees said. "It would be more like a hatred than a competition."

Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said the battle, "is tighter now than before, and before it was dead even."

Trivia question Jacquez Green's 157 career catches are the most among current Redskins. But five former Redskins are in the NFL's all-time top 10. Can you name them?

Always the same Marty Schottenheimer once babysat for Buffalo teammate Tom Flores' kids. When Flores and his wife, Barb, got home, Schottenheimer reported a problem.

"Marty said that the twin boys really weren't staying inside the lines when they colored," Flores recalled. "Barb told him, 'Marty, they're only 5 years old.' That gives you an idea of how meticulous he is."

Back to Tempe? After striking out first in Tempe, then with the idea of building a stadium in Phoenix because the location was too close to Sky Harbor Airport and finally in Mesa because of local objections, the Arizona Cardinals just might wind up staying in Tempe.

On Tuesday, the Tempe City Council approved a 98-acre site close to the team's headquarters in advance of a Sept.12 deadline imposed by the state legislature to find a spot or risk the dissolution of the Tourism and Sports Authority's mission.

"We're optimistic that the TSA will look favorably on this location," Tempe mayor Neil Giuliano said. "It's in between the original proposal and the proposal that was very nearly selected at the Gila River. It's right along the freeway [I-10]. This site works."

The big 3-oh? Carolina's Chris Weinke turned 30 on Wednesday. That's older than 17 other projected starting quarterbacks even though he's only beginning his second season.

"Age is just a number; it's just something in your mind," Weinke said. "They say when you turn 30 is when you start to feel your age, but I feel pretty good."

Of course, Weinke hasn't been sacked nearly as often as most 30-year-old starting quarterbacks even though the Panthers went 1-15 in his rookie year. Weinke played minor league baseball before attending Florida State where he won the 2000 Heisman Trophy at 28.

Weinke is enjoying his adjustment to new coordinator Dan Henning's offense. The former Atlanta and San Diego coach has junked the West Coast offense and will allow Weinke to throw the ball downfield more often. And the Panthers will use the shotgun for the first time in franchise history.

While halfback Lamar Smith, a star for Miami in 2000, is expected to be the key to an offensive rejuvenation, Weinke also needs to step up after compiling an NFC-worst passer rating of 62.0 last year. The loss of favorite target Donald Hayes to free agency and the questionable health of replacement Patrick Jeffers makes a leap forward in the passing game an even bigger challenge.

Trivia answer Andre Reed (third with 951), Art Monk (fourth, 940), Irving Fryar (sixth, 851), Henry Ellard (eighth, 814) and the still-active Larry Centers (ninth, 765).

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