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Names In The Game

August 13, 1996

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Larry Little said new coach Jimmy Johnson is no miracle worker, no matter what Johnson thinks.

``I don’t see a quick fix. Jimmy thinks he walks on water. But I doubt he’ll be as successful as he thinks,″ Little said Monday.

Little, 50, played under former Dolphins coach Don Shula from 1969-80. He currently coaches college ball at North Carolina Central.

The stellar guard, whose crushing blocks cleared the way for running backs Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris in consecutive Super Bowl victories, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

And he’s bitter about the way Shula was forced out after last season.

``I don’t think he went out on his own terms, and that was sad,″ Little said.

Johnson worked wonders in Dallas, taking a 1-15 team to a pair of Super Bowl victories after replacing legendary coach Tom Landry.

But that kind of history won’t repeat itself, Little said.

``I don’t see any championships anytime soon,″ Little said.


HOUSTON (AP) _ Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the world’s wealthiest single guys, is a bachelor no more.

Olajuwon, fresh off his gold medal ``Dream Team″ performance at the Olympics, walked down the aisle last Thursday with Dalia Asafi, 18, said Pamela Greaney, Olajuwon’s personal assistant.

``He married someone within his own faith,″ Greaney said.

The 33-year-old Nigerian native was raised as a Muslim and became recommitted to the Islamic faith as an adult.

``It was a very private ceremony with just family,″ Ms. Greaney said.

The bride has indicated she wants to study medicine.

The couple met through the bride’s family. Ms. Greaney had no details on how long they have known each other or any honeymoon plans.

``They’re both very happy,″ she said.

Last month, Olajuwon signed a $55 million, five-year contract extension with the Houston Rockets.

Olajuwon leaves Sunday for Australia, where he will join other NBA players as one of the league’s international ambassadors.


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Adam Lingner had one of the easier jobs with the Buffalo Bills last season. They’re still having a difficult time replacing him.

Lingner was Buffalo’s long snapper the last seven years before retiring after last season. He spent most of his time on the sidelines and wasn’t required to attend meetings.

All coach Marv Levy wanted from Lingner was to snap the ball consistently for punts and placekicks. He was paid $168,000 last year and made a career out of looking upside down. The Bills haven’t found anybody who can do the same job with any consistency.

``It’s just a matter of building confidence by repetition and doing it in game situations,″ Levy said. ``It’s not the regular season. We’re not satisfied with anything. We’ve got a way to go on everything.″

So far, tight end Robert Coons is snapping for punts and offensive linemen Tom Nutten for placekicks. Both have been less than dazzling in the first two preseason games.

``Unfortunately, when you make a mistake as a long snapper, it gets noticed by everybody,″ Coons said. ``What I need most is more game experience. It comes easier with every game I play.″

Lingner, 35, had less than five bad snaps in his 13-year NFL career, but one came last year in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh. He retired for a job in the Bills’ front office in May.

Punter Chris Mohr and kicker Steve Christie separately called Lingner after Buffalo’s game against Minnesota last week to discuss the problem and find out if Lingner was still in shape.

Coaches have not discussed the same topics with Lingner _ not yet, anyway. The Bills no longer have the luxury of paying someone to be just a long snapper, and Lingner would likely command more than the minimum salary he made last season.

``I wouldn’t want to sit up on the fourth floor and watch a potentially great season get screwed because of a possible bad snap or two,″ Lingner said. ``I wasn’t planning on doing it, but I would do it if they needed me to.″

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