Thursday News Recap: He Said, Keith Said

A public dispute breaks out between the team and a player's agents. Who da thunk it? This time, there are different perspectives on Keith McKenzie's injuries and contract negotiations. Meanwhile, Tim Couch looks perfect in Butch Davis' eyes, and the NFL offers a painfully intricate explanation for Bottlegate.

WHEN IN DOUBT, BLAME THE ENGINEERS: In Tony Grossi's article in the Plain Dealer today, the snafu that led to the mass migration of plastic bottles to the playing field against Jacksonville is being blamed on a "delay in the buzzer system". The NFL is sticking to its story that officials really-honestly-truly called for a replay before a subsequent clock-killing play. The explanation is somewhat pained - there's a delay in the buzzer system involved, a goof-up by Terry McCaulay, etc. Suggestions for improvement (red turret lights, earpieces, and so forth) have been summarily rejected. The NFL is planning to tweak and hope for the best.

I can't help but wonder if the "souvenir" plastic cups they give you with beer are going to be around next year, either. It would be a shame for my home beer cup collection to top out at 200. We could throw them, I'm guess, so they're probably toast.

This brings into question whether fans will be allowed anything that could possibly serve as projectile: Plastic beer bottles, plastic cups, pom-poms, Steeler fans, Official Key Bank Official Dawg Official Keychains from the Official Whatever of the Cleveland Browns, college students paid to wander around in dog costumes, etc. Anything that could possibly be chucked at a referee could go. And all because of some poorly engineered buzzer. Tragic.

Shockingly, a seemingly spurned free agent is taking issue with comments made by the team in the press. Keith McKenzie's agent, Joel Corry, is reported in the ABJ to disagree with the Browns contention that McKenzie won't be able to run until May or June. There's also some public complaining that McKenzie wasn't directly told that the offer would be given to other players and some finger-pointing suggesting that Davis is just bringing in more Hurricanes.

Guys, when you play hardball, you should be prepared to dodge the beanballs.

I am guessing that a couple of million dollars, or readjusted expectations on McKenzie's part, would lead the parties to kiss and make up. Now, though, the chances that McKenzie winds up in Cleveland in 2002 appear to be slim at best.

Also the ABJ today: Couch can do no wrong, according to Butch Davis. Leaving no crack that could be used by the press to leverage a quarterback controversy, Davis is unstinting in his praise of Couch. The Browns Head Coach offers a couple of areas where Couch could improve, but when phrases like "heart of a warrior" are tossed out, there isn't much room for commentators to start the Kelly Holcomb for Starter campaign.

MORE ON BEN GAY'S NO SHOW: I got a couple of nice emails from members of the Fostoria Backers saying that they never really got word on why Ben Gay didn't show, but that they were very impressed with Felipe Claybrooks, who was apparently a more-than-capable fill-in. One Backer made me chuckle by writing to say that they were initially disappointed but "didn't throw any bottles". I wish I could just wander around the countryside attending these banquets. If you haven't contacted a Backer organization in your area, do so.

Cris Carter is totally hosed as the Rams say "No thanks" and talk about all the great WRs available in the draft. The Dolphins are the leading candidates to clean up the mess... Speaking of messes: the NFL is going to continue to use Arthur Andersen to do their audits. Thanks to Enron, this is considered newsworthy. Andersen used to be considered above reproach. The fall from grace has been stunning... The Official Site gives some pub to the Barbara Kriewald tragedy and prints the donation address. Good to see the team using its platform to help... CNN/SI's Dr. Z is still one of the best commentators out there. His article from yesterday is worth reading for the quote from Holmgren alone...

- AB

If you enjoy using Internet bandwidth and sophisticated microprocessing technology for completely wasteful purposes - and don't we all? - you can write to Art Bietz at

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