Originally created 11/06/01

Falcons family members argue in the stands



FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons are trying to smooth over an argument that erupted between players' relatives when some started cheering when starting quarterback Chris Chandler was injured in a 24-10 loss to the Patriots Sunday.

Coach Dan Reeves refused to discuss the players or people involved, but sources close to the team said Monday that Chandler's wife, Diane, confronted some relatives who wanted her husband out of the game so top draft pick Michael Vick could play.

An argument ensued and someone threw a can at her. Fullback Bob Christian said his father, Jim Christian, caught the can and argued with those cheering, including relatives of receiver Shawn Jefferson.

"Obviously, my dad was too close to it," Bob Christian said. "I think my dad started off trying to keep the peace and then getting in the middle of it trying to keep the peace, you get a little of it coming your way, too, so he got a little angry about that."

Christian said he and Jefferson apologized to each other for their family's behavior.

"I guess Shawn and I just wanted to make sure I didn't have any hard feelings towards his family and he didn't have any hard feelings towards my dad," Christian said.

Jefferson claimed to be unaware of the situation Monday. Later, he burst into the locker room and threatened reporters to not contact his wife.

"If any of you reporters in this locker room call my wife, I'm going to (mess) you up!" Jefferson shouted. "I will (mess) you up. Don't call my wife. Understand me? Anybody. Any reporter who calls my wife, I will (mess) you up. Two times!"

Diane Chandler said she was disappointed to hear such comments from family members of her husband's teammates.

"You just don't root for people to get hurt," she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That's the bottom line."

Vick, who struggled after he replaced Chandler Sunday, was disgusted to hear that people were cheering for any player to get hurt.

"That's so crazy, man," Vick said. "I don't see how anybody could be cheering while somebody's out there getting hit. As hard as we go out there and try to please these fans, as hard as we go out and play, I don't see why anybody would even make those statements."

Chandler, who was not available for comment Monday, was sacked six times before leaving at the end of the third quarter with sore ribs. Reeves said it was too early to tell whether his rib injury would prevent him from playing when the Falcons (3-4) play host to the Dallas Cowboys (2-5) this week.

Chandler entered the game with the NFL's No. 2 quarterback rating but he completed only 8 of 20 passes for 95 yards. His lone touchdown pass, a 19-yard strike in the first quarter, was caught by Jefferson.

Vick had not played since he struggled during a 31-3 loss to Chicago in Week 4. Against New England, he was ran twice for 50 yards and completed 2 of 9 passes for 56 yards and was sacked three times.

"I've never heard that many people rooting, like they been waiting for Chandler to mess up," cornerback Ray Buchanan said. "He's having a heck of a season. The dude can't control it if them dudes ain't protecting him and he's getting blasted. Go off on the linemen. You don't go off on Chris. Go off on the linemen. Those dudes ain't blocking."