Sports Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2003

NFL Europe season to proceed as scheduled

PHOENIX -- NFL Europe is starting as planned, despite the war in Iraq.

The developmental league's players and coaches will leave for Germany, Spain, Netherlands and Scotland this week after the 32 NFL owners decided overwhelmingly Monday to proceed as usual.

''We're an American business in Europe,'' commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. ''Like other American businesses, we have to continue on.''

The decision came on the first day of the NFL's annual meeting, which is expected to focus on proposals to change the overtime system and expand the playoffs from 12 teams to 14.

The competition committee, which recommends rules changes, split 4-4 on a move to change overtime and allow each team at least one possession. The committee was against the proposal by New England and Kansas City to expand the playoffs.

Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay, co-chairman of the committee, said he favored the change in overtime and opposed the expansion of the playoffs. He noted that the league had agreed when it expanded to eight divisions for last season that teams had agreed to give the format at least two years.

''This is one and we haven't had any problems with it in the first year,'' McKay said.

He also noted that the league is slow to make major changes.

''Historically these are not rules that pass the first year they're proposed,'' he said. ''Sometimes you have to let them percolate into the second year.''

Sanders, Theismann, Bell selected to college hall

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Joe Theismann was headed to North Carolina State before he changed his mind and chose Notre Dame.

''I just felt like this is where I belong,'' the Fighting Irish quarterback said after being selected to the College Football Hall of Fame on Monday.

Running backs Barry Sanders and Ricky Bell also made the hall, along with eight other former college stars and former coaches Hayden Fry and Doug Dickey.

Theismann was in South Bend for the announcement and said his selection ''was something very unexpected.''

''It was very emotional for me,'' Theismann, who played at Notre Dame from 1968-70.

Theismann recalled arriving on campus as a 5-foot-10, 147-pound freshman and being picked up by assistant coaches Joe Yonto and John Ray.

''As I stepped down the stairs, Joe Yonto turned to Johnny Ray and said, 'That's that Theismann kid, the quarterback.'

''He looked at me and said, 'You mean the guy who is going to be our water boy?'''

Theismann turned out to be another in a long line of Fighting Irish stars. He took over in the eighth game of his sophomore season, after Terry Hanratty was injured in practice, and led the Irish to two wins and a tie.

Theismann was second to Jim Plunkett in the 1970 Heisman voting.

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