Cowboys coach Barry Switzer won a vote of confidence from owner Jerry Jones, but that probably will not end the NFL's longest-running soap opera.
"We're always under the microscope," veteran Bill Bates said. "We're pretty much used to it."
Jones denied the latest report concerning Switzer, who according to the Washington Post
likely will be replaced by director of scouting Larry Lacewell next week.
"It shows you how bad sources can be," Jones said Wednesday while the Cowboys, 4-5 and off to their worst start since 1990, tried to prepare for Sunday's game against Arizona.
"Barry's job is secure. There's no truth to that. It's not going to happen. We're going to ride through these rough times and we're going to ride with Barry Switzer."
Asked at practice about Jones' remarks, Switzer replied: "I don't know anything about that."
Switzer dismissed the latest reports on his future as the work of "those fiction writers."
"All of this media frenzy is a distraction," he said.
Public-relations director Rich Dalrymple said of the reports of Switzer's dismissal:
"That would be taking a difficult situation, turning it upside down, and then turning it upside down again. It's not something Jerry is going to do."
The reports followed a heated discussion after Sunday's 17-10 loss to San Francisco between Switzer and quarterback Troy Aikman, and a New York Times report last week that the coach bragged to players about staying up until 4 a.m. partying several days after the Cowboys lost to the Giants on Oct. 5.
Switzer acknowledged his late night out happened the Tuesday after a loss to the Giants, not the night before the game, as was reported. He said he stayed up late drinking wine worrying about the loss.
Jones said he would study the coaching situation after the season. Switzer has won one Super Bowl in his four years as coach.
The players tried to ignore the sideshow and prepare for a team that defeated them in the second game of the season.
"We feel we can win Sunday and get back in the race," said RB Emmitt Smith, who is questionable with a groin pull.
WR Michael Irvin said there was no way a coaching change could help the team this year.
"I don't know how that would help," Irvin said. "Maybe somebody could change the offense and bring in 11 new players. The offense just hasn't been getting the job done."
PITTSBURGH STADIUM: The Steelers and Pirates kept hearing about a Plan B to fund their proposed new stadiums if a sales-tax increase failed.
The day after an overwhelming rejection by voters of a tax plan to raise $700-million, the clubs were anxious to see the backup plan.
The teams' only promise? Unlike the failed idea of raising the sales tax by a half-penny in an 11-county region, the new plan will not come from them.
"Quite frankly, we're going to get back to doing what we do best _ playing baseball," Pirates managing general partner Kevin McClatchy said. "I'm going to turn this over to the elected officials, let them try to figure out a solution."
Steelers owner Dan Rooney also plans to sit and wait for other proposals, though he promised not to wait long.
The Pirates and Steelers argue that new stadiums are essential if they are to generate the additional revenue streams _ including luxury boxes and club seating _ needed to maintain competitiveness.
"I've said all along that there will be no stadiums built without a substantial local share," Gov. Tom Ridge said. "We are still prepared to be a partner, but we can't do anything until we know what the local share would be."
BEARS: The team suspended DE Alonzo Spellman without pay because he refused to have surgery on his injured left shoulder as recommended by team doctors. Spellman, in the second year of a four-year, $11.6-million contract, has missed five straight games.
BENGALS: Rookie S Tremain Mack, convicted last week of drunken driving, was put on the non-football illness reserve list. Mack, a fourth-round choice out of Miami, had a blood-alcohol level of .18, nearly twice Ohio's legal limit. The team activated former Florida S Lawrence Wright from the practice squad.
BRONCOS: LB Bill Romanowski said he will not be looking over his shoulder Sunday, despite the possible presence of revenge-minded Carolina Panthers. Romanowski's preseason hit on Carolina's Kerry Collins broke the quarterback's jaw and resulted in a $20,000 fine from the league. "It was gone from my mind right after the play," Romanowski said. "But the media keeps bringing it up." After the game, Carolina OL Frank Garcia issued a warning: "That was a cheap shot. We play those guys again, so maybe we'll be able to do something about it."
CHARGERS: QB Stan Humphries, who sustained his fourth concussion in the past two years, is out at least a month and maybe the rest of the season. Trainer Keoki Kamau classified the concussion as Grade 3, the most serious, based on the length of time Humphries had amnesia.
COLTS: QB Kelly Holcomb moved to No. 1 on the depth chart. Former UF standout Kerwin Bell will be his backup for Sunday's game with Cincinnati.
EAGLES: Coach Ray Rhodes named Ty Detmer his starting quarterback for Monday night's game against San Francisco. In choosing Detmer over Rodney Peete, who started the past three games for the 4-5 Eagles, Rhodes' only rationale was that Detmer had limited success in last week's 31-21 loss at Arizona while Peete had none. C Steve Everitt, charged with driving while intoxicated and possession of drug paraphernalia, apologized "for any embarrassment and distraction" the incident has caused. Everitt, 27, was stopped early Tuesday morning after attending a WCW pro wrestling event in Philadelphia.
GIANTS: Danny Kanell, the quarterback during much of a five-game winning streak, will remain the starter the rest of the season. Coach Jim Fassel said he didn't want the former FSU standout worrying whether he would keep the job once Dave Brown recovered from a torn chest muscle.
JAGUARS: DT Kelvin Pritchett has torn ligaments in his right knee and is out for the season.
JETS: QB Glenn Foley will start at Miami, coach Bill Parcells said. Neil O'Donnell, who earns $5-million a year, becomes the most expensive backup in NFL history. Foley replaced O'Donnell in the past two games and engineered victories. "You can put up a lot of numbers to make this decision appear to be right or wrong," Parcells said. "I don't care; you do what is best momentarily and I am not worried about the long-term effect of this."
PACKERS: The district attorney said he will urge that DT Gilbert Brown receive probation and counseling but not any jail time for striking his girlfriend. Brown, scheduled to appear in court today, faces a possible maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. All-Pro LeRoy Butler said he was so frustrated by stalled contract talks that he was "almost in the mood to say let's just forget about it." But hours later, the strong safety's agent said the deal was just about done. The sides are working on a contract extension that would make the former FSU star one of the highest-paid safeties with an annual salary of about $3-million. The club is asking shareholders to approve a new plan for selling additional stock in the publicly owned team as a way of boosting cash reserves by $80-million.
NFL TRIAL: Commissioner Paul Tagliabue completed two days of testimony as St. Louis' $130-million antitrust lawsuit against the league drew to a close. Alan Popkin, lead counsel for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, questioned Tagliabue most of the day on cross-examination. He said he made every point he sought "and then some."
He said the biggest point he made was that while the NFL said it was sharing the Rams' $29-million relocation fee with lower-revenue teams, one of the country's richest men, Jets owner Leon Hess, was among those who benefited. "The irony is so striking," Popkin said.
Tagliabue also testified that the purpose of the league's relocation guidelines are to "regulate" competition. He said it was possible for a team that did not meet the league's nine relocation guidelines to be allowed to move, and possible for a team that met the guidelines to be voted down.
NFL lawyer Frank Rothman said Popkin covered nothing but old ground from the 5-week-old trial.
DOLPHINS: Coach Jimmy Johnson stoked the worries about QB Dan Marino for Sunday against the Jets, saying Marino would be a "game-day decision." Marino, listed as questionable with a sprained left ankle, was held out of practice.
RAVENS: WR Michael Jackson may face season-ending surgery to repair a torn right biceps muscle.