By ERNEST HOOPER
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 17, 2000
PONTIAC, Mich. -- Throw another log on the burning rivalry between Denver and Oakland.
The AFC West teams didn't need another reason to dislike each other, but kicker Joe Nedney has given them one.
It started in August when Oakland released Nedney. At the time, Nedney told coach Jon Gruden, "I've got to be honest with you, I'm just as much a competitor as you are, and I look forward to standing on the opposite sideline from you and beating you."
Nedney matched prized rookie Sebastian Janikowski in the preseason, but was in a fight he knew he couldn't win.
Now Nedney gets his wish as a replacement for Denver kicker Jason Elam, who is out indefinitely with a back injury.
"I have nothing personal against the Raiders organization. They had to do what they did," Nedney said. "It's not personal, it's a business. But obviously I'd love to go out there and make all my field goals and outkick my competition and show them that they could have what they have now for a lot less money and probably with a lot better mentality."
Nedney also is upset he didn't get an immediate release after Janikowski was drafted, so he could have caught on with another team.
Janikowski refused to talk to the Oakland media about Nedney, but articles were placed prominently in the Raiders' locker room with Nedney's quotes highlighted in orange.
Said rookie punter Shane Lechler, Janikowski's roommate: "There may be something between those two going on."
Gruden said he's glad Nedney is getting an opportunity, but wishes he had "gone and played for my brother or something."
Gruden's brother, Jay, coaches the Orlando Predators of the Arena League.
DYNAMIC DUO: Carolina's Steve Beuerlein and Donald Hayes are hoping to become the league's hot new passing combination. The players spend a considerable amount of time working together after practice and the ethic has coach George Seifert comparing Beuerlein and Hayes with another famous tandem.
"It reminds me of when I was in high school watching (former Baltimore Colts) Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry practice," Seifert said. "I mean, seriously, they came out to play the 49ers. I was at Golden Gate Park. I sat there and they kept throwing passes. Finally, it was too dark. They had to go in. And you know how they turned out. Maybe that's what these guys want to do. I hope so."
Hayes (a big target at 6-4, 208 pounds) ranks fourth in the NFC in receiving yards, with 186 on 10 receptions. Beuerlein is first in passing efficiency with 116.1 rating points. Beuerlein has completed 41 of 58 passes (70.7 percent) for 547 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
DOOMED IN DALLAS?: With last week's loss against Arizona, Dallas has lost eight consecutive road games and 10 of 11. The only victory was 41-35 against Washington in the 1999 season opener when the Cowboys rallied from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to win in overtime. The Cowboys return to the site of that rare road win Monday night when they play the Redskins at FedEx Field.
Owner Jerry Jones insists the team can turn its 0-2 start into a positive.
"Teams are going to be knocking each other off because of parity," Jones said. "I don't see any team that doesn't have an Achilles' heel. They are vulnerable in any given game. Now more than ever, 0-2 doesn't mean you don't have a chance to be in the hunt."
ET CETERA: Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt on friend and former coach Jimmy Johnson: "He's doing great. I think he's worn shoes three times since February." ... Asked last week if he had experienced a 41-0 loss, Bears rookie and ex-New Mexico star Brian Urlacher said, "Yeah, every week was like this." ... In the first two weeks of the season, teams with a 100-yard rusher were 9-0. On the first weekend, 100-yard rushers went 8-0. Last weekend, Denver's Mike Anderson (131) was the only player to surpass the century mark. ... Troy Aikman is the only quarterback in NFL history to win at least 10 games for five consecutive seasons. ... Since Dennis Green became the Vikings coach in 1992, they are 35-15 (.700) in the first six games of the season. In September, they are 24-10 (.705), including 13-3 (.837) at the Metrodome. ... Steelers guard Tom Myslinski and Raiders receiver Andre Rison are playing with their seventh teams, more than any other players. This is Myslinski's second Steelers tour. ... On opening-day rosters, FSU (38), Notre Dame (37), Ohio State (35), Florida (34) and Miami (34) had more players than any other colleges.
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.