Orlando Brown, his right eye covered with a metal patch, looked down at his handwritten apology and said he couldn't read it.

The Browns' tackle walked out of his hospital room yesterday to speak publicly for the first time since pushing a referee to the ground after a penalty flag hit him in his eye.

Accompanied by his wife, Myra, Brown prepared to read a statement on notebook paper at an impromptu news conference at the Cleveland Clinic.

When he glanced at the lined sheet, he said softly: "I can't see. My wife will read it."

In the statement, which he and his wife wrote, Brown said he was sorry and deeply regretted pushing referee Jeff Triplette.

While Brown remained hospitalized, the NFL was deciding whether to punish the 6-foot-7, 350-pound player, known to his teammates as "Zeus."

Though it did not announce its decision yesterday, the league did say it will review the way referees throw flags.

SAINTS QB: Saints Coach Mike Ditka said former NFL Europe QB Jake Delhomme will start Friday's nationally televised game against the Cowboys. Delhomme has suited up for only one game this season and has never taken a snap in the NFL.

YOUNG ANALYST: ABC hired 49ers QB Steve Young, who hasn't played since suffering a concussion on Sept. 27, as a studio analyst for its coverage of the playoffs and Super Bowl.

WAIVED: The Browns waived DE Roy Barker and signed WR Isaiah Mustafa to the practice squad.