Originally created 01/07/97

NFL Notes - Panthers play Packers play on new sod


The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in Green Bay is getting a facelift.

Torn up in the Green Bay Packers' win over San Francisco in a playoff game Saturday, groundskeepers are going to try to completely re-sod the grass for Sunday's NFC championship game against Carolina (12:30 p.m., Fox-54).

More than 85,000 cubic feet of grass, at a cost to the NFL of more than $100,000, is being trucked in from the Duro-Turf sod farm in Bowie, Md., today.

"I don't know at this point if we're looking to grow it as much as we are to get it into place, pack it down and make sure that it's going to stay down," field supervisor Todd Edlebeck said. "We're looking at doing this as a one-game situation. Our goal right now is end zone to end zone."

Chip Toma, a grounds-keeping consultant for the NFL, will oversee the project, which Edlebeck hopes to complete by Thursday night, barring a heavy snowstorm. Toma's father, George, is regarded as America's finest fixer of fields.

The field was rendered a muddy mess on Saturday, when the Packers sloshed to a 35-14 victory over the 49ers in a rare January downpour that lasted all day.

"Oh, it was terrible," tight end Mark Chmura. "On the outside it was just real slick mud. In the middle, between the hashes, it was like a cow pasture."

Packers coach Mike Holmgren said the new sod won't guarantee better footing Sunday, when temperatures are expected to be in the single-digits to teens with a 30 percent chance of snow and light winds about 8 mph.

"It might be more slippery. It might be frozen," he said. "This time of year here, it's not going to be an ideal surface."

TUGGLE SIGNS: The Atlanta Falcons said the team has signed three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jessie Tuggle to a two-year contract extension. Tuggle, 31, has led the club in tackles for eight straight seasons, including a team-high 184 stops in 1996.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound linebacker agreed to a deal that will keep him in Atlanta through 1999. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Tuggle, who has started 137 of 155 games with the Falcons, joined the team in 1987 as an undrafted free agent from Valdosta State.

He was the NFL's top tackler in 1990 with 201 tackles and in 1991 with 207 stops, becoming the first Falcon to post over 200 tackles in back-to-back seasons.

NEW REDSKIN: Two games a season against the New York Giants' defense gave Washington Redskins coach Norv Turner a good look at the work of Mike Nolan.

Turner was so impressed with what he saw, he hired Nolan - in limbo since last month, when the Giants fired head coach Dan Reeves.

Nolan was selected Monday as Washington's defensive coordinator. The 37-year-old Baltimore native will be asked to re-establish the defensive consistency absent since Turner's arrival in Washington in 1994.

Nolan replaces Ron Lynn, fired Dec. 27 after the Redskins collapsed from a 7-1 start to finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs.

With Reeves considered a candidate for the open Atlanta job, Nolan said it was a "tough decision" not to follow his longtime boss to a new assignment.

COWBOYS: Teammates Michael Irvin and Erik Williams no longer have the NFL playoffs to occupy them, but police say that has had no bearing on their investigation of a rape allegation against the Cowboys players.

The pace of the inquiry will not be hastened because the Carolina Panthers sent Dallas packing with a 26-17 NFC divisional playoff win Sunday, police spokesman Ed Spencer said.

"It never has been a factor," he said. "The detectives were told at the beginning of the investigation to conduct a thorough, professional investigation and take as long as it takes to do the job properly. And they were assured they were under no pressure to go with anything that would not be their normal, proper pace."

Detectives on Monday continued to gather and analyze evidence stemming from a complaint made last week by a 23-year-old Mesquite woman. She told police that Irvin held a gun to her head while she was raped Dec. 29 by Williams and another man at Williams' home in a gated Dallas subdivision.

Police have not "positively" identified the third man, Spencer said. No one has been arrested or charged with any crime.


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