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GILDON COULD GIVE BOOST TO SACK TOTAL

Column as I see 'em:

Tom Donahoe bristles when people criticize his pass rush. He reminds us that the Bills were ninth in the NFL in sacks last year. He says he's high on his young defensive ends. But signing Jason Gildon, an aging rush linebacker, is a clear sign that the GM is worried about the Bills' rush. Gildon is 32 and in decline, but he'll help if used creatively. He became the all-time sack leader in Pittsburgh in a 3-4 alignment. The Bills should mix in some 3-4 to maximize their enhanced depth at linebacker. If it cuts into the playing time of Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay, so be it. Donahoe needs to win -- now.

Does anyone still believe Tiger Woods will win 11 more majors and pass Jack Nicklaus? Even if Woods rediscovers his swing, it's not likely. There's simply too much depth on tour these days. Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel and Todd Hamilton have won three of the last five. Ask Phil Mickelson how hard it is to win a major. With a couple more breaks, he'd be three-fourths of the way to a grand slam. But he's won only one major this season. Ask Ernie Els. He's been close in all three majors and hasn't won one.

It's nice of the Sabres to reach out to their fans by cutting ticket prices. But how about a gesture that actually improves the product on the ice? The NHL's impending contract battle is a convenient excuse to do nothing. But other teams are making moves to get better. As of Friday, there had been 18 free-agent signings -- 12 by non-playoff teams. Why fiddle with a ninth-place roster on the brink of greatness?

Word is Randy Johnson wants to go to the Yankees or Cardinals. The Cards can't afford the $24 million left on The Big Unit's contract, so that leaves the poor Yanks. Johnson wants to be assured of winning, which is very sporting of the guy. The thing is, the Yankees could really use him. They don't have a starter with an ERA below 4.00. Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown are ailing. Javier Vasquez is struggling. Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez are erratic. If New York's starting pitching doesn't come around, the Red Sox still can make a race of it.

Whenever the British Open ends in a playoff, I'm reminded how much I like the four-hole format. All golf tournaments should use it. One hole is too quick. The 18-hole format, used only in USGA tournaments, creates too many logistical problems. Four holes seems just right, though the TV networks would never go for it.

At the risk of blowing my image as an enlightened male: Do women have their own golf scramble tournaments? And if so, do they drink as much as the men?

It's too bad the steroid scandal dominated the Olympic track and field trials. It overshadowed one of the year's most remarkable stories: hurdler Gail Devers becoming the third U.S. track athlete to qualify for five Olympics. Carl Lewis and Willye White (women's long jump) were the others.

Let's see: Ivan Rodriguez leaves Florida and the World Series champion becomes an average team. His new team, Detroit, exceeds its previous year's win total on July 18. Alex Rodriguez leaves Texas and the Rangers become a contender. As I said many years ago, A-Rod isn't even the most valuable Rodriguez.

Maybe he can't rush the passer the way he used to, but Gildon gives the Bills another character guy. He was voted defensive captain by his teammates in each of his last three years in Pittsburgh.

The last time I rode a bicycle, my baseball glove was hanging off the handlebars. And even I know Lance Armstrong is sitting pretty for a sixth straight Tour de France victory.

Here's my marketing slogan for the Sabres' ticket drive: "Dull teams we might actually beat, at reduced prices!"
e-mail: jsullivan@buffnews.com

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