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TURF CASUALTIES SHOULD SEND NFL BACK TO GROUND ZERO

Column as I see 'em:

Wayne Chrebet . . . Vinny Testaverde . . . now Jamal Anderson. How many players have to go down with season-ending injuries on artificial turf -- without so much as being touched -- for the NFL to acknowledge that the phony surfaces are a blight to the game? And when is the almighty players' union going to take a real stand on the issue?

I guess the Yankees showed they're still the team to beat by winning three out of four last weekend in Cleveland. But they have to be uneasy about the continued struggles of David Cone, and the erratic defensive play of second baseman Chuck Knoblauch.

Anyone who ever had to endure the arrogance of hockey agent Rich Winter, who specializes in representing Eastern Europeans, has to be cheering at the news that the Sabres' Miroslav Satan basically fired him. But that doesn't mean the Satan negotiations will be any prettier.

After watching UB stagger behind the "most experienced offensive line in college football" for two weeks, you have to wonder if a little less experience might be a good thing in this case.

The disappointing finish to the De La Hoya-Trinidad fight has fans clamoring anew for open scoring in boxing, so people know where the fighters stand with the judges. But there's a certain charm in not knowing the exact scores in the late rounds. Local matchmaker Rick Glaser favors a compromise: Post the scores for the first nine rounds only.

Whatever happened to Denver's running game? Terrell Davis, who averaged 5.1 yards a carry last year, is averaging 3.5 this year for the 0-2 Broncos. Things don't figure to get any easier this week. Denver travels to play Tampa Bay, which has allowed 257 total yards in its first two games.

This year's reprise of the Sosa-McGwire home run race has left me cold. Both teams are out of the race, and the attention being paid to the two sluggers has detracted from a great race between the Braves and Mets in the NL East.

Joe Theismann probably thought he was being clever Sunday night when he pointed out that Doug Flutie's son wasn't paying close attention to his dad's game in his stadium suite. You'd think by now Theismann would know that Dougie has autism.

Sweden's Jesper Parnevik says the team that will represent the U.S. this week is "the strongest team ever to play in the Ryder Cup." Sounds like he's reminding our boys that the pressure is on, and they haven't handled it well in recent competitions.

Last season, the Vikings set an NFL record with 556 points and didn't score under 24 in any game. This year, they've been held to 17 in successive weeks without Brian Billick, who left as offensive coordinator to take the Baltimore head job.

Toward the end of last year's playoffs, when he was scoring goals, Stu Barnes was becoming one of the more popular players on the Sabres. Showing up for training camp without a contract isn't going to diminish the fans' affection.

Buffalo's Ross Thompson has risen to the No. 2 spot in the IBF's ranking of junior middleweights. That puts him in line for a mandatory title shot against the winner of the Dec. 4 fight between the champ, Fernando Vargas, and Winky Wright.

During training camp, Doug Flutie said he felt faster than ever after all the offseason work he'd done to strengthen his 36-year-old legs. It showed on Sunday, when he ran circles around the Jets.

Steve Christie set a Bills record for field goals last year, but you still don't get the most secure feeling when he lines up for a kick nowadays.

As of Tuesday, the Cubs were 60-90 and the Diamondbacks were 90-60. And there are still people who argue that a slugger like Sammy Sosa is more valuable than a starting pitcher like Randy Johnson.

It was stunning to see Indianapolis blow a 21-point lead against the Patriots last Sunday, knowing the Colts had a team leader like Cornelius Bennett around to help them through times of distress.

Anyone with a comment about the high school series, which concludes Thursday with the No. 1 school, can leave me a message at 849-4121. I only ask that you keep personal attacks to a minimum.

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