The St. Louis Rams have asked the NFL to review four plays involving San Diego Chargers strong safety Rodney Harrison in the teams' preseason game Saturday night.
One of the plays includes what appeared to be a late hit of Rams quarterback Trent Green, who tore ligaments in his left knee and will miss the 1999 season.
Gene Washington, a league vice president, will review the tapes and decide if disciplinary action in the form of a fine or suspension is warranted, with a decision expected as early as today.
Harrison was a starting Pro Bowl safety last year and has a reputation around the league as a late hitter. He has been fined four times in the past three seasons for unnecessary roughness, with fines of $5,000 in 1996, '97 and '98, and an additional $10,000 in '97.
Green and Harrison were briefly teammates in San Diego in the summer of 1994, when Harrison was a rookie and Green, then in his second season, was cut after training camp.
Green, the Redskins' starter for most of the 1998 season who left via free agency to play for his hometown team, was enjoying an outstanding preseason. He completed all 11 of his passes for 166 yards and a touchdown against San Diego until he was injured in the second quarter. For the preseason, he was 28 of 32 for 406 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Overall, he had an astounding 126.6 quarterback rating.
Green will wait several weeks to undergo surgery, but he said in an interview yesterday that he's been assured he'll be able to play next season.
"It's just disappointing because we really had things going offensively," Green said. "The good news is it's not in my plant leg. I've been told they were all clean tears and should be fairly easy to repair. If there's any such thing as being a standard surgery, this is standard, but not to me it's not."
Green said Harrison called him Sunday when he wasn't home and left a message of remorse on his answering machine.
"He basically apologized and said he felt bad about it," Green said. "He said his intentions were not to hurt me. It's just unfortunate, really. If he hit me six inches higher, it's a bruised thigh and I'm back in a week.
"I don't really blame him. He has a style of play that I guess you would call reckless. He's a very physical player. If I were going to pick a team, he's one of those fly-around guys you want on your side. You've got to love a guy who plays with that kind of spirit. The bad thing for him is that he may hurt himself doing that one day. It's football. It's just unfortunate it was me."
The Rams will start the season with Green's backup, Kurt Warner, who has thrown 10 passes during his NFL career.
They also acquired Paul Justin this week from Oakland. They had tried to sign him in the offseason, but when Coach Dick Vermeil couldn't guarantee him a chance to compete for the backup spot, Justin went to the Raiders, where he sat on the bench for most of the preseason.
Rainer Impresses Browns
The retirement of Cleveland middle linebacker Chris Spielman on Monday opened the door for a player who has been one of the biggest surprises in the Browns' training camp. Wali Rainer, a fourth-round pick from the University of Virginia, already had impressed coaches with his physical, all-out play in games, even if Coach Chris Palmer described him this week as someone who was just an average practice player.
"But when the lights come on, this kid raises it to another level," Palmer said. "He's very physical, very active. What challenges him right now is the passing game, but he'll get there. I don't think our defense will change at all with him in there."
Other sources on the Browns indicated that Spielman, 33, had not been all that impressive during the preseason. While no one questioned his role as a team leader with legendary work habits, some players believed Rainer likely would have received significant playing time during the regular season. Spielman, coming off a year away from the game, had only three tackles in two preseason games and was not making many plays.
`Kramer' Has an Episode
Actor Michael Richards, best known as Kramer on "Seinfeld," showed up at the Minnesota Vikings' training camp recently to film a promotional spot for Monday Night Football. When he left the locker room, his hair was even more Kramer-esque than usual.
"Let me tell you something," he told reporters later. "I got hazed in there. I met them all and I have the bruises to prove it. When I walked in, everyone said, `Be Kramer, be Kramer.' I had to do `giddyup' and all that stuff before they'd even settle down and talk to me. I had to perform a little bit."
Rooney Admits Violation
Pittsburgh owner Dan Rooney, regarded as one of the game's most honorable executives, admitted last week he committed a violation of the league's salary cap with a $400,000 incentive to former tackle Wil Wolford. Rooney said the mistake was "a technical one," and inadvertent. Maximum fines for cap violations are $2 million for the team and $250,000 for individuals, though it's unlikely the league will come down hard on Rooney, one of Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's most valued advisers. . . . San Diego's Lincoln High School added another graduate to the 21 other former players and coaches who went on to the NFL. This year's addition is Bengals rookie quarterback Akili Smith, the third overall player taken in the draft and a 1993 Lincoln graduate. Saints running back Ricky Williams, the fifth player selected, also has a Lincoln connection: His mother graduated from the school. . . . Since overtime was instituted in 1974, there have been 276 overtime games. In 74 percent of those games, both teams had at least one possession. The team that won the coin toss won the game 49 percent of the time, the team that lost the toss won 45 percent. Six percent, or 15 games, ended in ties.