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Nfl Hits Panthers Hard

Compiled From Wire Services

The NFL fined the Carolina Panthers $150,000 and stripped them of two draft choices for talking to Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dom Capers about their head coaching job.

The Steelers were fined $50,000 and a moratorium was placed on signing Capers.

The draft choices will be the 61st and 191st overall in April’s college draft - the extra pick the Panthers get after the second and sixth rounds.

The Panthers have the first pick and a “sandwich” pick between the first and second rounds before that as well as picks between each round. The other expansion team, Jacksonville, will pick second and also get the sandwich picks.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said league rules were violated three times - when the Panthers contacted Capers; when the Steelers granted permission to talk to him; and when the Panthers and Capers engaged in discussions.

Carolina had no immediate comment.

The woofing in Cleveland isn’t restricted to the Dawg Pound.

All the Browns talked about after losing in Pittsburgh on Dec. 18 was getting another shot at the Steelers, who kept them from winning the AFC Central title by beating them twice.

They get that chance Saturday in the first Browns-Steelers playoff game in the rivalry’s 45-year history.

“I want Pittsburgh bad. We owe them, plain and simple,” Browns defensive end Rob Burnett said. “They’re a good team, but we’re also a good team. We’re going to show them that.”

“If they want us, we’re going to be here,” Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. “We’re not going anywhere. We’ll be here at 12:30 Saturday and we’ll find out.”

The verbal sparring actually started last week, even before the Browns beat the New England Patriots in a wild-card playoff game. Asked who he preferred to play, Steelers tight end Eric Green said, in so many words, who cares?

“Whoever we play, we’re going to beat them anyway,” Green said. “I’ll make this prediction: It’s going to be the Steelers and 49ers in the Super Bowl and somebody’s got to lose, baby.”

Sterling Sharpe is gone, and the Dallas Cowboys figure Green Bay can’t be far behind him. The last time the teams met, on Thanksgiving, Sharpe caught four touchdown passes in Dallas’ 42-31 win.

“Robert Brooks isn’t Sterling Sharpe,” Cowboys coach Barry Switzer said. “There aren’t a lot of Sharpe’s around. I just hope we don’t see a rising star here in Brooks.”

Sharpe is out for the playoffs, and perhaps longer, with a neck injury as the Packers prepare to visit the Cowboys on Sunday in an NFC divisional game.

Aaron Taylor, the Packers’ injured first-round draft pick, was jailed after allegedly firing pistols in the air New Year’s Eve.

Switzer got a big vote of confidence from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones heading into the NFL playoffs: continuance of his five-year rollover contract. Jones said “we will continue” Switzer’s contract, which is set up to roll over every year.

Dan Marino outgunned Joe Montana, and his performance won him another player of the week award from the NFL, the 15th of his 12-year career.

Others honored are kicker Chris Jacke of Green Bay for special teams and Chicago defensive end Trace Armstrong.

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Tags: briefy, football

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