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Monday, November 22, 1999
Raider reversal: Broncos called dirty

By Tony Jackson and Lynn DeBruin
Scripps Howard News Service

At best, they were dubious. At worst, they were downright dirty.

For decades, the Oakland-Los Angeles-Oakland Raiders were the NFL's outlaws and outcasts, carefully nurturing an image not only of football excellence but also of cutthroat intimidation and infuriating swagger.

Now, in a twist that lends new meaning to the word irony, it is the Raiders who are crying foul, the Raiders who are pointing fingers, the Raiders who are threatening to take their case to the league office.

Consider this bit of information, which came from the mouth of Oakland wide receiver Tim Brown on Thursday on the subject of Denver Broncos cornerback Dale Carter: "After you catch a ball, if your back is turned to him (after being tackled), he'll just hit you in the back of your legs, which is very, very dangerous if you're not expecting it. Even if you are expecting it, it's still a very dangerous situation to be in, and potentially career-ending.

"I know he doesn't like the fact that receivers cut-block him, but at least with the cut-block, he sees it coming, and he can prepare himself for it.

"(But) you can't get ready for somebody jumping into the back of your ankles and your knees when you catch a ball."

Another in a long line of Brown-Carter battles, dating to Carter's days with the Kansas City Chiefs, is on tap Monday night when the Raiders and Broncos play at Mile High Stadium. And this one, fueled by Brown's outspokenness, promises to be as intense as any.

Brown, who has caught at least one pass in 100 consecutive games, said he does not consider Carter a "dirty" player, but his description of Carter's tendency to attack the backs of receivers' legs seemed to suggest otherwise.

"You don't see other guys doing that stuff," Brown said. "I don't think anybody else has the nerve to do it, because they're probably afraid that somebody's going to retaliate and get them back. Dale doesn't seem to have that fear. He's just going to do whatever. He's had a lot of injuries in this league, and he keeps coming back playing the same way. ... It really hasn't stopped him from playing the way he's going to play."

They're not even trying to go by the rules. Because they're Denver, they don't have to. I think they would get cussed out in meetings if they were caught not holding.
Darrell Russell

Which, if Brown had his way, is not the way Carter would play in the future.

"I know it will be something that I will approach the league about this offseason, and the competition committee, to see what they say," Brown said.

"If those guys say it's OK, then it's just one of those things you have to live with."

Told of Brown's comments, Carter laughed them off, denying he has personal issues with Brown or that he goes for the back of a receiver's legs.

"We don't have a feud," Carter said. "I am out there talking, regardless. I don't care who it is, I am out there talking smack ... and I can back it up. There's nothing wrong with it. ... I am just going after guys, period. I am not targeting any certain spot to hit anybody. I am not trying to play any football like that. But I will tell you this and guarantee you this: When I get out there, I am going to be playing 110 percent, regardless."

And that means not only the football game but the mind game as well.

"Any time you have a guy out there worried about what you are doing, that helps," Carter said. "I wouldn't say that you have fear, but you know what he's thinking, that you are coming after him 110 percent every play."

Brown is not the only Raiders player angry with the Broncos.

Defensive tackle Darrell Russell, who is convinced the Denver offensive linemen have made overt attempts to injure his knees in the past, believes the Broncos coaching staff not only approves of such tactics but expects them.

"They're not even trying to go by the rules," Russell said. "Because they're Denver, they don't have to. I think they would get cussed out in meetings if they were caught not holding. ... If they are going to try to hurt me, when I do get the opportunity, I am going to try to hurt their quarterback.

"If they are going to play dirty, then I am going to play dirty."

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan answered Russell's charges with factual data.

"The NFL, they look at every play we have," Shanahan said. "If there's an illegal chop block or anybody does anything illegal, they're fined, and the fine is very substantial. In (our) last 10 games, we have not had a fine. So what else do I need to say?"

Tony Jackson and Lynn DeBruin are reporters for the Denver Rocky Mountain News.