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NFL briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 30, 2000

Father of Chargers DT killed

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- The father of San Diego Chargers player John Parrella was shot to death at his home Friday.

The body of 63-year-old Joe Parrella was found by sheriff's deputies responding to a home security alarm at 4 a.m., the sheriff's department said.

No suspects have been identified, and the body was taken to Omaha for an autopsy.

Parrella was a local car dealer. Business associates told the Grand Island Independent that Parrella was looking at the security alarm when he was shot twice outside the house.

Parrella flew to Nebraska early Friday to be with his family. Chargers coach Mike Riley told the team about the death before practice.

"That was probably as shocked as I have ever seen them," Riley said. "It's hard to describe how you feel about something like that. It is just shocking."

John Parrella has played defensive tackle for the Chargers since 1994. The former Nebraska star was drafted by the Bills in 1993.

"They had a bond as a father and son, but more important, they were buddies," Chargers linebacker Junior Seau said. "With all the players we have on the team, we wish we had a bond as tight as they did."

BENGALS: Winless Cincinnati failed to sell out its second game in $453-million Paul Brown Stadium in time to be broadcast in its home market. The stadium seats 66,500. The Bengals declined to say how many tickets were sold.

BRONCOS: Among Denver's inactives are receiver Robert Brooks and kicker Jason Elam.

COWBOYS: Dallas handed out league-approved "discipline" to free safety George Teague and two other players involved in Sunday's controversial demonstrations, retaliations and ejections at Texas Stadium. It couldn't be confirmed whether Teague, strong safety Darren Woodson or running Emmitt Smith were fined, although Teague said earlier he "had been told" to expect a fine from the league or the team. Excessive or embarrassing cases of unsportsmanlike conduct have been known to carry a $5,000 fine from the league office.

DOLPHINS: Running back Thurman Thomas (groin) and receiver Tony Martin (left foot) have been declared inactive and it looks increasing likely that middle linebacker Zach Thomas (right ankle) also will miss Sunday's game against the Bengals. ... Receiver O.J. McDuffie (toe) said he has the Oct. 23 game against the Jets penciled in for his return.

EAGLES: After missing practice Wednesday, right guard Jermane Mayberry (big toe on left foot) practiced. Receiver Alex Van Dyke (hamstring) sat out.

LIONS: Right guard Jeff Hartings (ribs) did not practice. ... Left tackle Ray Roberts rested his surgically repaired knee but will start.

RAMS: Safety Devin Bush and receiver Ricky Proehl have hamstring injuries and probably won't play Sunday against San Diego. The Rams also could be without outside linebacker Todd Collins (ankle). ... If Kurt Warner throws for 300 yards, he will become the third player in NFL history with five consecutive games of 300 yards or more. The others are Joe Montana and Steve Young, with Young setting the league mark of six straight in 1998.

TITANS: Quarterback Steve McNair will start Sunday against the Giants but defensive end Jevon Kearse might not play. McNair last started Sept. 10, when he bruised his sternum against Kansas City. He played the final minutes against Pittsburgh Sunday, directing a winning drive. Kearse strained his leg against the Steelers and practiced Friday for the first time. ... Tight end Frank Wycheck (concussion) and defensive tackle Joe Salave'a (neck) have been cleared to play.

Culpepper-Batch II

Even though Daunte Culpepper has not faced Charlie Batch during their NFL careers, Culpepper is 1-0 against the Lions quarterback.

While at Central Florida, Culpepper's Knights beat Batch's Eastern Michigan Eagles 27-10 in 1997. Culpepper finished 17 of 23 for 243 yards and a touchdown; Batch was 24 of 43 for 257 yards and a touchdown.

UCF is playing at Eastern Michigan today.

Stram offends, apologizes

NEW YORK -- Super Bowl-winning coach Hank Stram says he meant no offense and was only joking when he made an anti-Semitic remark during a radio interview.

On ESPN Radio last week, the former Chiefs and Saints coach was questioned about his readiness to spend heavily on Joe Theismann when the quarterback was entering the NFL in 1974.

"Yeah, I was ready to play that Jewish organ. ... Hit the cash register," Stram told host Mike Golic, according to an ESPN transcript of the Sept. 20 show.

His remark prompted the American Jewish Congress to denounce Stram as the winner of the "Stupid Bowl." The New York-based advocacy group is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and has some 50,000 members.

"It's ridiculous for anybody to think that I am anti-Jewish," Stram, 70, told the Associated Press. "I was flabbergasted when I heard that it was coming over the AP wire. I said it in a kidding way."

Stram, who is Polish, said he grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Gary, Ind., and "never dreamed" anyone would take offense at what he said.

"I have a lot of friends all over the country, people who are Polish, Jewish, Czech, Italian. In the neighborhood where I grew up, you were always kidding one another like that. Nobody was ever malicious about it."

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