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Bill Parcells looked around the crowded but silent interview room and scoffed, "Why do I feel like I'm at a funeral? It's not a funeral, fellows."

The New York Jets certainly aren't treating an 0-1 record, season-ending injuries to two key players and plenty of other health woes as decisive. They might be without quarterback Vinny Testaverde for the rest of 1999, as well as kick returner-running back Leon Johnson. And starters Wayne Chrebet, Eric Green, Jason Ferguson and Otis Smith won't play Sunday night in Buffalo.

But the Jets are not without hope.

"To sit around here and gloom and doom, what is that going to help?" asked vocal linebacker Bryan Cox. "Injuries are a part of the game and every team is going to get them. But the fact is, for the next 17 weeks the New York Jets are going to play somebody. And we have to be getting ready to play, not feeling sorry for ourselves.

"As long as we believe and go out and prepare with a purpose and do what we're supposed to do, it doesn't matter what the fans or the league or the media thinks."

That's the message Parcells is imparting to his team. He built the Jets to win it all this year and won't be abandoning such plans, even in the face of such adversity.

"You just move on," Parcells said. "That is one of the things about this game that makes it such a compelling, interesting and challenging game to all of us involved. The game very seldom goes without a lot of bumps in the road."

Browns hand the ball to Couch

BEREA, Ohio -- Tim Couch wasn't drafted No. 1 to be a clipboard carrier. He was going to become the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback of the future.

The future arrived faster than Couch or the Browns expected.

Couch will replace Ty Detmer as the starter Sunday when Cleveland, coming off an embarrassing 43-0 opening loss to Pittsburgh, plays at the Tennessee Titans.

"I didn't know when this would happen," Couch said Wednesday. "If it would be this year or not. I'm grateful for the opportunity. Hopefully, I'll go out and do what I'm capable of doing. Go out there and put some points up on the board."

The Browns managed just two first downs, were outgained, 460-40, and had the ball for a mere 12:11 Sunday.

"I'm looking for guys to make plays," coach Chris Palmer said.

Spielman joins Levy on Fox

NEW YORK -- Former Pro Bowl linebacker Chris Spielman will join Fox Sports Net's "NFL This Morning" program as a full-time studio analyst.

Spielman, the former Buffalo Bill who left football last month because he feared suffering a catastrophic injury to his surgically repaired neck, got the job after appearing as a guest analyst on the first airing of the show last week.

"I'd rather be playing, but this gives you a chance to be around the games a little bit," Spielman said. "That was my main interest, to stay a part of football."

Spielman, 33, joins host Chris Myers and analysts Marv Levy, the former Bills coach, and Jackie Slater, a former Rams offensive lineman.

Fox Sports Net's "NFL This Morning" program airs at 11 a.m..

Boy fan gets a dressing down

NORWALK, Ohio -- School officials apologized to a boy who was forced to sit in a corner for wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey on his school's Cleveland Browns' spirit day.

Ten-year-old Eric Nutter and his mother, Debbie, have long been Steelers fans. So when Western Reserve Middle School, about 50 miles southwest of Cleveland, marked the return of the Browns to the NFL on Friday, the fifth-grader came to the school wearing a Kordell Stewart jersey, honoring Pittsburgh's quarterback.

He was surprised when his teacher, Brent Maillard, had him turn his desk around in the back of the classroom.

"I had to turn around the whole time to see what was going on," Eric told a newspaper. "I didn't like it."

After about two hours, Eric changed into a Cleveland Indians T-shirt for gym class and kept it on for the rest of the day. Then he was allowed to turn his desk around.

Eric told WKYC-TV in Cleveland that he got a phone call from Stewart.

"He asked me how good I was doing in school and told me that if I have any more problems with his jersey that he'll come down and help me," Eric said.

Around the league

Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, his right wrist heavily taped, insisted his injury from Monday night won't keep him out of Sunday's game at Kansas City.

Cornerback Jason Sehorn worked out without feeling any pain in his injured left hamstring and said he may play in the Giants' home opener Sunday.

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre says he will be ready to face the Detroit Lions on Sunday because he has seen "dramatic improvement" in his hand, which has a sprained thumb and a muscle bruise. With seven more starts, Favre will pass Ron Jaworski for the longest starting streak (117 games) by a quarterback in league history.

The NFL said Los Angeles lost only its exclusive right to put together a deal for an expansion team when it missed a deadline Wednesday, and said the league is now talking to representatives from Houston as well as three prospective ownership groups in Southern California.

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