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Friday, January 7, 2000

Low blow by Vikings end on Flozell Adams not easily forgotten
By Jeff Caplan
Knight Ridder Newspapers

IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Flozell Adams says he doesn't think about the below-the-belt cheap shot that Minnesota Vikings defensive end Duane Clemons landed on him during the teams' first meeting Nov. 8 in Minnesota.

He surely hasn't forgotten about it.

“I don't think he'll forget it,” Cowboys coach Chan Gailey said.

The referees didn't see the punch, but ABC's “Monday Night Football” cameras caught it, and the video prompted the NFL to fine Clemons $7,500, a figure Gailey surmised as minuscule considering the severity of the infraction.

At the time, Adams called the fine “ludicrous,” and Gailey was as outspoken on the subject as anything this season. He's still disappointed with the league's punishment.

“I better not say because if I say I'll probably get in trouble,” Gailey said. “Better off to leave it, as I was very unhappy with the way it was handled.”

Gailey said he will talk to Adams at some point before Sunday's wild-card playoff game against Minnesota to remind him of the bigger picture and to keep his emotions in check if and when he tangles with Clemons again.

ROBERT SMITH A CONCERN

Both defenses are guarding against a Smith. The Vikings are poised to stop Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, and the Cowboys are talking the same about Vikings running back Robert Smith, who missed the earlier meeting this season with an injury.

“Robert Smith can go the distance from anywhere. He can take it 90 if you're on your own 10, he's that kind of back,” Chan Gailey said. “Obviously, he's a big, strong man who can break tackles as well, so that's the dimension he adds, the home run from anywhere on the field.”

MATHIS UPGRADED

Cornerback Kevin Mathis was upgraded from doubtful to questionable, joining fellow cornerback Kevin Smith at that status. Both practiced again Thursday, but Chan Gailey said it remains uncertain how much either can contribute Sunday.

Gailey called their practice session encouraging, but said neither is at 100 percent.

Deion Sanders, however, will be 100 percent. In the last meeting at Minnesota on Nov. 8, which also happened to be the last time Smith and Mathis played in the same game, Sanders played with an injured groin and hamstring and was noticeably gimpy.

WINNING AT .500

The Cowboys heard it more than once this week: the 1985 Cleveland Browns, the '90 New Orleans Saints and the '91 New York Jets, all playoff qualifiers at 8-8, never won a playoff game.

“Just because it's never happened doesn't mean it can't happen,” safety George Teague said. “Knowing the talent we have, and the potential we have, if at some point like this weekend, we actually play our best game and put it all together, there's not anybody that we can't beat and no reason we can't make it all the way to the Super Bowl.”

HIGH HONOR FOR TUCKER

Wide receiver-kick returner Jason Tucker of the Cowboys was named NFC special teams player of the month for December, the NFL announced. Carolina wide receiver Patrick Jeffers, a former Cowboys player, was named the offensive player of the month, and tackle John Randle of the Minnesota Vikings won defensive honors.

SUPER EXPERIENCED

The Cowboys have 16 active players who have played in the Super Bowl. That's 15 more than the Vikings. Cornerback Jimmy Hitchcock played in Super Bowl XXXI with the New England Patriots against the Green Bay Packers.

Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman said having players with playoff experience is great, but it doesn't mean an automatic victory.

“It helps,” he said. “In '92 we didn't have much experience either.”

Cowboys players with Super Bowl experience:

Troy Aikman, Larry Allen, Eric Bjornson, Jason Garrett, Dale Hellestrae, Chad Hennings, Leon Lett, Eddie Murray, Ernie Mills, Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Kevin Smith, Mark Stepnoski, Charlie Williams, Erik Williams, Darren Woodson.

Note: Michael Irvin and Darryl Johnston also have Super Bowl experience, but are on injured reserve.

(c) 2000, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Visit the Star-Telegram on the World Wide Web: www.star-telegram.com.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.


All content copyright 2000, AP, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine

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