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SMITH SURE OF A VOTE FOR AWARD HE COVETS

IT'S ONE of those opinionated days. . . .

Bruce Smith is out in the open about it. He wants to be the NFL's most valuable player in the worst way. Hall of Famer Alan Page of Minnesota was the only defensive lineman ever to win it. Bruce is having a better year than Page did in his landmark season.

In order to win the award, Smith has to be politically wise. That means he ought not to function as his own campaign manager, which he has been doing.

Nevertheless, the big guy has this vote.

The Bills will find out how much respect they command when the Pro Bowl ballots are filled out in two weeks. It would not be unrealistic to expect 10 places for Buffalo on the AFC squad.
Did you notice how hard fullback Carwell Gardner ran late in the Indy game when he seemed stopped near his own goal line? Kenneth Davis was no relief for the Colts, either.

Everyone wants to contribute to a trip to Tampa.

From the way Miami went after Philadelphia Sunday night, the Dolphins must be looking forward to their Christmastime romp in Rich Stadium Dec. 23.

The Eagles look more and more like a fraud, however. That was the third game they lost to the AFC East, including to woeful Indianapolis right in Philly. And for a guy who is supposed to be an assassin, Eagle safety Andre Waters is a horrible tackler.

Who are the real Sabres? What are they about? Do they have a purpose? Do they have a future? Do they have a present?

Maybe Toronto Blue Jays' GM "Stand Pat" Gillick should have done just that. Dealing both Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez is free fall stuff -- with an antique parachute.

Everyone seems to avoid the "D" word in discussing the remaking of the Jays. That's "D" as in Dominican.

Fernandez went to San Diego in the trade. George Bell went to the Cubs as a free agent. Junior Felix went to the Angels in a trade for Devon White. All the ex-Jays are Dominicans.

Anyone who spent time around the Jays knew there was virtually a sub-culture of Toronto players who grew up in and around the same small Dominican town of San Pedro de Macoris. Bell was its leader. It was he who publicly accused Torontonians of being "anti-Dominican" a few years ago.

The Jays deal that made the best sense was signing Pat Tabler as a free agent. Tabler has the major's highest career batting average with the bases loaded. The Jays have become famous for leaving runners on base in important, late-season games.

ESPN's NFL telecast team of Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann offers less useful information and more redundant blab than any network pair, including those on Turner Network's Sunday night games.

Late in the Miami-Philly game, at a time when the Dolphins desperately were trying to put some heat on Randall Cunningham, the sideline camera showed Jeff Cross, Miami's best pass rusher, in front of the bench.

This wasn't mentioned until a timeout was taken and a director obviously hammered it in Patrick's ear piece that Cross was hurt.

It wasn't true grit that allowed Giants coach Bill Parcells to transport his kidney stones from a hospital to the Meadowlands Sunday. It was Demerol, or something similar. Not even King Kong plays with the pain of kidney stones, which is as close as a man ever will come to labor pains.

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