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Tuesday, December 23, 1997

Decision time looms for Jerry

AP Sports Writer
IRVING, Texas, Dec. 23 -- Barry Switzer's days at Valley
Ranch appear numbered, with owner Jerry Jones the only one
who can say when that number is up.

While the end of the four-year Switzer era appears near,
other changes will sweep through the Dallas Cowboys after
their most disappointing season since 1989, when Jimmy
Johnson was a rookie coach in a 1-15 campaign.

Offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese expects to be fired and
several veteran players probably have played their final
game as a Cowboy.

Dallas dozed through a 20-7 loss to the NFC East champion
New York Giants on Sunday to end the season at 6-10. Dallas
will have the No. 8 spot in the draft, highest since 1991.

Switzer is 45-26 with the Cowboys, but his teams have been
17-17, including playoff games, since they beat Pittsburgh
in the 1996 Super Bowl.

The Cowboys' vast complex was shut down Monday for the
holidays. Owner Jerry Jones has said nothing would be done
regarding coaching or personnel changes until late January
or February.

It is the first time the Cowboys haven't been in the
playoffs since 1990.

Jones knows changes have to made, even though it may include
the painful dismissal or reassignment of his close friend

``I'm not looking at this thing through rose-colored
glasses,'' Jones said. ``We have a lot of work to be done.''

Switzer himself said his days as coach are probably over.

``I'm not sure I want to come back,'' Switzer said. ``I'll
sit down with Jerry and talk about it and then we'll let you
know what we decide. There will be a lot of changes.''

Switzer said he and Jones have talked about a possible
consultant role, but Jones corrected his coach by saying
they have never talked. Jones considers Switzer a good
evaluator of talent and, besides, Switzer has several years
to go on his $1 million per year contract.

Jones is already talking like he and Switzer have had a good

`I feel very rewarded that Barry and our team have a Super
Bowl ring,'' Jones said. ``This would be very hard to take
if that didn't happen.''

While Switzer went Christmas shopping, Jones had his own
shopping list for players.

Dallas' dynamic trio of quarterback Troy Aikman, wide
receiver Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, will return
although they all had subpar seasons.

Aikman had 19 touchdown passes, but served up 12

``I'm disappointed with my performance and the team's and I
look forward to doing what it takes to get this team back to
where it was,'' Aikman said. ``In fact, if we can get things
together I'd like to play another six years.''

Irvin caught 75 passes for 1,180 yards, but had only nine TD
receptions. He spent most of the season being

Smith, despite injuries, still managed 1,074 yards behind a
banged-up offensive line.

Both Irvin and Smith will return because it would cost too
much against the salary cap for Jones to trade them.

Dallas desperately needs a pass-rushing end. Broderick
Thomas, Shante Carver and Kavika Pittman were busts this
year. Jones could trade up to help the Cowboys' miserable
pass rush.

Brown's outlook good after surgery

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- Because he is young and healthy,
Reggie Brown's chances of recovery are good. Yet his
football career appears to be over.

The Detroit linebacker had neck surgery Monday after his
spine was injured during Sunday's victory over the New York
Jets that put the Lions into the playoffs. He will wear a
neck brace known as a halo the next three months.

Team physician Dr. David Collon said the surgery to fuse the
first and second vertebra in Brown's neck went well at
Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital.

``His condition remains stable,'' Collon said. ``At this
point, we begin the process of observation to see how his
condition progresses.''

Brown's face turned blue after a collision on a tackle, and
a doctor gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the field.

``At this point, it is hard to say how serious and how
permanent his injury is,'' Collon said. ``The first 72 hours
after such an injury are important. The next two weeks also
will tell us a lot.''

When asked if the 23-year-old player's career was over,
Collon said: ``I guess you could make that supposition.''

Brown, who was carried off the Silverdone field in an
ambulance Sunday, regained consciousness at a Pontiac
hospital, Collon said. After about 45 minutes, Brown was
taken to Henry Ford Hospital, where he will remain for about
two weeks.

``He was unconscious until just before we got to the
hospital,'' said Dr. Terry Lock, another team physician.
``Then, he was very lucid. He was especially worried about
his girlfriend.''

Collon said Brown had a clear understanding of his situation
and was handling it very well.

``He's starting from a very good position,'' Collon said.
``He's strong, he's young and he's healthy. I'd say his
chances are very good.''

Lions coach Bobby Ross said he visited with Brown briefly

``Reggie was very happy that we won the game,'' Ross said.
``It wasn't a long conversation.''

With the victory, the Lions captured a spot in the playoffs,
but the celebration was tempered by the injury that caused
the raucous Silverdome crowd to fall almost silent. Brown's
injury in the fourth quarter delayed play for 17 minutes as
medical personnel worked to revive him.

``The scariest thing was that he was turning purple,'' wide
receiver Johnnie Morton said. ``His eyes were rolling back.
I was shedding tears because I had never seen something like

Lock and trainer Kent Falb were among the first to reach
Brown on the field. The doctor gave Brown mouth-to-mouth

``Initially, he was having trouble breathing,'' Lock said.
``We wondered if he had swallowed his mouthpiece. But he
doesn't wear a mouthpiece. So we began mouth-to-mouth.''

Collon said the handling by the staff on the field was

``Wrong moves could have been fatal,'' Collon said.

Players on both teams prayed as Brown was treated, and as he
was about to be driven off the field in an ambulance each
team huddled in prayer. Some players had tears in their

``I think they did a remarkable job of keeping their
focus,'' Ross said. ``But I think it was hard on both teams.
It bothered the Jets, too. You could see that in their

Brown was assisting in a tackle on running back Adrian
Murrell in the fourth quarter when Lamont Burns, a Jets
lineman, fell backward and hit Brown in the head.

Brown, 23, who played high school football at Austin Reagan,
played at Texas A&M from 1992 to 1995 when the Lions drafted
him in the first round.

``Reggie is a classy guy who I am really proud of,'' said
A&M coach R.C. Slocum, who was on a recruiting trip in
Dallas on Monday. ``He is a very talented player, and it's a
tragedy to see him hurt like this.''

Slocum said he called the hospital in Detroit on Monday to
check on Brown. Slocum spoke with Lions strength coach Bert
Hill, who worked at A&M from 1983 to '89.

``Bert said Reggie is not out of the woods yet,'' Slocum
said. ``But they think he is going to be OK.

``They believe he is going to regain his movement. It's just
too early to speculate on his career. It's one of those
things where we'll just have to wait and see,'' Slocum said.

Brown is the third Detroit player this season whose career
has been cut short. Linebacker Tom Beer, after a number of
concussions, was urged to retire early in training camp.
Examinations after an injury in the Oct. 19 Giants game
disclosed that safety Harry Colon had a narrowing of his
spinal canal, and he also retired from football.

``The important thing is that Reggie is going to be fine,''
linebacker Stephen Boyd said. ``He's getting the best care
in the world and you know this is a great organization. He
will be taken care of.''

Through the years, the Lions have lost other players to

--During a 1971 game against the Chicago Bears at Tiger
Stadium, wide receiver Chuck Hughes collapsed and died of a
heart attack.

--Offensive guard Mike Utley was paralyzed during a game on
Nov. 17, 1991, against the Los Angeles Rams.

--Before the start of the 1992 season, offensive guard Eric
Andolsek was struck and killed by an out-of-control truck
while mowing his lawn at home in Louisiana.

It was the second time this year that an important victory
for a Detroit team was marred by injury. Three members of
the Detroit Red Wings were hurt in a limousine accident June
13, just six days after the team won its first Stanley Cup
in 42 years.

Brown's injury also brought back bad memories for the Jets.
New York defensive tackle Dennis Byrd was temporarily
paralyzed after a collision with a teammate in 1992.

But Byrd had to retire from football.

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