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WADE'S LAID-BACK STYLE A PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER

Good morning. Welcome to the Dr. Larry Show. It's the football season and our switchboard is lit up like the Florida State scoreboard. Our first call is from Buffalo, Wade Phillips, the Bills' coach. What's the skinny, Skinny?

Dr. Larry, I don't know what hit us in Indianapolis. I thought we had a good team. Was I wrong?

To begin with you're missing too many parts to be a good team. Right now it's merely a survivor. No one is going to drop a Grade A offensive lineman or all-pro runner in your lap now. The same goes for a top-of-the-line, experienced cornerback. What you can do to help yourself, though, is have Mr. Nice Guy take a sabbatical. When your team is as undisciplined, as unfocused and uninterested as it was Sunday, you've got a problem, but it's solvable. Demand that your guys pay attention to business.

Take Ruben Brown, Wade! He's 27 years old and a five- year pro. Demand that he stop acting like an adolescent and operate like a pro. Two holding penalties on one drive! A dance in the end zone when you're getting croaked! Ruben needs to grow up and set an example. Give them the focus-or-else ultimatum.

Another thing. The exhibition season is over. Play your best. If you're using more than two receivers, Peerless Price has to be on the field.

Here's another call from Buffalo, this time it's Joe Pendry, Phillips' offensive coordinator.

We lost Thurman Thomas for a long time, Dr. Larry. I've ripped apart attacks and rebuilt them during the season before but I need players and mine are dropping like flies.

That's why they pay you the big money, Joe. The Detroit Lions lost Barry Sanders but they got 168 yards from three unknowns Sunday and upset Seattle on the road. In order to do something like thatoffensive linemen have to knock people off the line of scrimmage and yours are getting driven into their own backfield. The only thing that's going to help them is an attitude adjustment. Right now the Bills' line doesn't have a pulse.

Our next call is from South Bend, MikeWadsworth, the Notre Dame athletic director. Shake down some thunder, Mike.

We can't catch a break, Dr. Larry. Did you see that anti-celebration call that cost us the Michigan game two weeks ago? Then that unfortunate mix-up at Purdue. What's in the cards for us?

What you guys should do is stop whining about that celebration call. It's a bad rule, but until they change it it's still a rule that has has to be obeyed. Your team isn't the first to lose a game because of it. Syracuse had Oklahoma in the palm of its hand a couple of seasons ago and then celebrated the Sooners off the hook. Besides, your receiver should have been penalized for taunting.

And you call that last minute against Purdue an "unfortunate mix-up?" Then Woodstock '99 was also an "unfortunate mix-up." What happened to the Irish at Purdue was an episode from "The Three Stooges." Off those two games I'd say Notre Dame was one of the worst-coached big-time college teams I've seen in years.

Our next caller is from San Francisco, Steve Mariucci, the 49ers' coach. What's troubling you Mooch?

We got hit by an express train in Jacksonville, Dr. Larry. I'm telling our team that after we lick our wounds we'll be all right. Agree?

Afraid not, Coach. Your boys are too old in some important places and too flimsy in others, such as the offensive line and defensive backfield. Those bogus contracts the Niners used to circumvent the salary cap are haunting you. Bill Walsh, your new GM, held a fire sale to get under this year's cap. The NFL may take some future draft choices away to punish the front office.

But the new brass should stop blaming the old boss, Carmen Policy. Carmen's got enough troubles in Cleveland. His Browns eventually will get better. Your guys will just get older. Walsh is supposed to be a genius. Let him take care of it.

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