There was a buzz in locker rooms around the league last week after Giants coach Tom Coughlin fined four players for not being early enough to meetings, but that seems gratuitous considering Coughlin had set the clocks at his team's practice facility five minutes fast. He's not the first coach to insist that players be on the early side of punctual. When Vince Lombardi coached the Packers, he warned players never to be late. "It got to the point where we got to meetings 15 minutes early," Hall of Fame tackle Forrest Gregg recalled last week. "I understand what Tom is trying to do--he's trying to get the players totally focused on football, like Vince did."
BY THE NUMBERS
All that stands in the way of the Patriots' breaking the record for the longest winning streak in NFL history are an old teammate (Drew Bledsoe in Buffalo on Oct. 3) and an old rival (Miami at home on Oct. 10). Here are the longest streaks.
End of Streak
Giants 20, Broncos 16
Rams 28, 49ers 17
Raiders 12, Dolphins 7
Redskins 14, Bears 6
Giants 30, Bears 13
Broncos 30, Raiders 7
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
Redskins coach Joe Gibbs versus Cowboys coach Bill Parcells. Gibbs has climbed many mountains in his sporting life--he's a former national 35-and-over racquetball champion, a three-time Super Bowl winner and the owner of a Winston Cup--champion NASCAR team--but he has not conquered Parcells. Although his Washington teams beat Parcells's Giants in the coaches' first three meetings, Gibbs (right) lost 11 of the next 14 matchups. One more thing about the importance of Monday night's game: Dallas has won 12 of the last 13 meetings between the teams.
1. Other than the loss of a starting QB, no injury will impact an offense more than the broken leg suffered by Carolina's Steve Smith. The Panthers won't have a deep threat for two months or more.
2. The penalty the league handed the Broncos last week for circumventing the salary cap from 1996 to '98 was too soft. A third-round draft pick and a $950,000 fine? Ridiculous.
3. As one of the 39 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters, here's my gut feeling on next January's strong rookie class: Dan Marino's a lock, Steve Young and Derrick Thomas are near locks, and Michael Irvin and Charles Haley are on the bubble.