PATRIOTS MOVE:

New England yesterday hired former University of Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich to control every facet of daily operations within the organization, the first of many changes expected over the next four weeks.

Jankovich replaces Pat Sullivan as the Patriots' highest administrator, second only to owner Victor Kiam, who proclaimed the hiring of Jankovich as "a new era for the Patriots." Jankovich's title will be owners' representative and chief operating officer.

Sullivan will remain as general manager but his responsibilities will be drastically reduced. Kiam said at a news conference that Sullivan will be in charge of salary negotiations, rule interpretations and community relations.

The reduction in Sullivan's role, sources close to Kiam said yesterday, was to avoid buying out Sullivan's $2.2 million contract that runs through 1996.

FLAG FOOTBALL:

NFL players will wear American flag decals on their helmets, starting this weekend. Said Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, "This presentation of the American flag is a very appropriate method for the NFL clubs and players to affirm their support for the men and women of our Armed Forces on duty in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf."

NEW YORK KNIGHTS:

That's the name of the Big Apple's entry in the World League of American Football that will play at Giants Stadium. Former Bengals LB Reggie Williams, who resigned from the Cincinnati City Council Wednesday, was named as the new team's general manager.

The 10-team league will open March 23 with games at Frankfurt, Germany; Sacramento, Calif.; and Birmingham, Ala. The season concludes with the World Bowl June 9, at a site to be named.

DILWEG DOWN:

Anthony Dilweg tried an orthopedic brace in his left shoe to support his sprained arch, but it didn't work for the Packers QB. That means Blair Kiel will start Saturday against the Lions, his second start of a six-year NFL career. . . . The Saints put DE Wayne Martin and C Steve Korte on injured reserve with knee injuries and activated C Brad Leggett and NT Travis Davis from the practice squad. . . . Browns C Mike Baab has been sentenced to three days in an Akron jail after pleading guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. Judge Milton Holmes in Rocky River (Ohio) Municipal Court said Baab will spend Feb. 7-9 in jail.