- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2005

Call it the “Hurricane Bowl.”

The Saints will not play their games in New Orleans this season because of Hurricane Katrina, and on Sunday face the Dolphins in the first of four “home” games at LSU in Baton Rouge, La.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, moved last week’s home game against the Chiefs up two days because of Hurricane Wilma.

“I don’t think our situation is anything like what they have had to deal with,” said Dolphins coach Nick Saban, who spent the previous five seasons at LSU. “They had to go to another city and can’t play their games at home. We’re not displaced. We’re not moving.”

The Dolphins’ facility was closed Monday because of Wilma, forcing the team to practice on its normal Tuesday off day. The Dolphins have a generator that supplies the team’s facilities with power, a luxury not shared by most South Floridians.

“It’s refreshing,” defensive end David Bowens said. “It kind of stinks for my family to be at home and be without power. But for me to come here, I can kind of get my mind off of things.”

The Saints can’t help but have their minds on their future. Owner Tom Benson has declined to commit to returning the franchise to New Orleans in 2006, despite the promise of a repaired Superdome.

Benson, who owns businesses in San Antonio, his team’s home base this season, wrote a letter that was published in Wednesday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune as a full page ad titled “Tom Benson Wants To Return to New Orleans.”

Benson explained why that goal might not be achieved, never mentioning that he wouldn’t oppose a permanent relocation to Texas. However, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who’ll be on hand at LSU, wants the Saints back in New Orleans.

The Saints (2-5) and Dolphins (2-4) each have lost three consecutive games. Ricky Williams has been a bust in his return to the Dolphins after a season of retirement and a four-game drug suspension. Saints running back Deuce McAllister is out for the season with an injured knee. Six other Saints have suffered season-ending injuries, and 14 more are listed as questionable for this weekend’s game because of their ailments.

“Yeah, we got it pretty rough, but you can’t sit there and feel sorry,” Saints center LeCharles Bentley said.

Noxious North

The Ravens have joined the Saints in achieving a special ignominy this season: Both teams are 0-2 against the hideous NFC North.

The Bears, Lions, Packers and Vikings are a combined 1-11 against the rest of the NFL, minus the Ravens and Saints. The Vikings (2-4) rank near the bottom in the league on offense and defense. The Lions (3-3) and Bears (3-3) can’t score. The Packers (1-5) are respectable on both sides of the ball, but they can’t win the close ones: Four of their five defeats have come by a combined nine points.

The NFC North survivor figures to at best match the 10 previous division champions who finished 9-7. The 1978 Vikings won the NFC Central at 8-7-1. But the 1985 Cleveland Browns topped them all, winning the AFC Central at 8-8, finishing a game ahead of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with Houston bringing up the rear at 5-11.

Three-time MVP Brett Favre is having another fine season quarterbacking injury-ravaged Green Bay, but Minnesota’s Daunte Culpepper, Chicago’s Kyle Orton and Detroit’s now-benched Joey Harrington have combined for 15 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.

Mara will be missed

Late New York Giants owner Wellington Mara’s 80 years in the NFL spanned nearly all of the league’s history.

Mara’s major contribution was unselfishly agreeing to pool television money in 1961, a move that kept Green Bay in the league and one that should be kept in mind as the owners continue to battle over sharing local revenues.

But I’ll always remember Mara for being a regular guy who, unlike some Johnny-come-lately NFL owners, wasn’t above sitting in the press box or using the grungy RFK Stadium press bathroom.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide