While the U.S. Football League Players Association is struggling to get paychecks for San Antonio's 51 players, the team is struggling for a victory.
The Gunslingers, who play the Baltimore Stars at 2:30 today in College Park, are 3-10 and have lost six straight, including a 24-21 loss to Oakland in Coach Gil Steinke's first game last week. He succeeded Jim Bates, who resigned.
As if the problems on the field aren't enough, the San Antonio players have not received their May 14 payroll checks. Should the arbitration hearing scheduled for next week rule in favor of the players, the team would have until June 8 to meet the payroll. If not, each player on the team would become a free agent. The team made good Thursday on its April 30 payroll after 30 paychecks had bounced.
The Stars have not had difficulty with bad checks, but they are not without problems. Last year's league champion has been a model of mediocrity this year. At 6-6-1 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, Baltimore must move ahead of Jacksonville (8-6) just to make the playoffs.
The Bulls, who play the Stars next week in College Park, beat Los Angeles last night, 21-7.
Were it not for linebacker Sam Mills, the Stars might have lost last Friday to hapless Orlando. Baltimore trailed, 21-10, at the half before rallying to win, 34-21.
Mills intercepted a pass for a 20-yard touchdown, caused a fumble, recovered a fumble and saved a touchdown with a tackle at the one-yard line.
Mills and the rest of the defense will concentrate today on stopping Gunslingers quarterback Rick Neuheisel, who has completed 53 percent of his passes for 2,048 yards and 14 touchdowns. His favorite receiver is Jerry Gordon (31 catches, 527 yards). Two wide receivers, Danny Buggs and Kevin Williams, are out with injuries.
The Stars likely will be without three starters. Nose tackle Pete Kugler, with a knee injury, and wide receiver Willie Collier (broken collarbone) are out. Tight end Steve Folsom (hamstring) is doubtful.