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NFL to Evaluate Super Bowl Security

July 29, 1996

CANTON, Ohio (AP) _ Despite terrorism again striking the Olympics, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue says the league will not necessarily alter its security measures before the next Super Bowl in New Orleans.

``I’m sure we’ll look at our Super Bowl security. We do that every year,″ he said Saturday before the annual Hall of Fame exhibition game.

The league employs six full-time security officers, triple the security staff it had last year.

``I think we’re ahead of the curve, anticipating the risk and trying to stay ahead of it,″ he said.

In a brief meeting with reporters, Tagliabue also discussed the Michael Irvin suspension and the angry reaction to him by Cleveland Browns fans.

Tagliabue was booed when introduced during induction ceremonies on the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Joe Gibbs, Mel Renfro, Charlie Joiner, Dan Dierdorf and Lou Creekmur were inducted.

The boos came from Cleveland fans still angry that team owner Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore. Modell’s team will begin play this fall as the Ravens.

Tagliabue noted an agreement had been reached that keeps the Browns nickname in Cleveland and gives the city an NFL franchise in 1999, pending construction of a new stadium.

``Whenever a team is uprooted and moved from its fans it strikes a deep and painful chord,″ Tagliabue said. ``They have a lot to look forward to in the future and need to put the past behind them.″

Irvin, the Dallas Cowboys’ star wide receiver, pleaded no contest July 16 to a cocaine possession charge. Eight days later, Tagliabue suspended him for five games.

Tagliabue said that when he decided on the length of the suspension, he considered this year’s schedule, which gives the Cowboys a bye in the sixth week of the season.

``I thought if I put any player out for six games plus a bye week _ when under the league drug policy he’s totally prohibited from practicing _ he would be sitting out seven weeks as a practical matter,″ Tagliabue said.

He said the NFL’s drug policy provides clear guidelines for the suspension.

``I was not in a position under the drug policy to punish Michael Irvin for the misdeeds of others or because some feel the legal system is lenient with drug cases,″ he said.

Tagliabue said the punishment was based on the seriousness of the offense and on the impact Irvin’s actions had on his team and the league.

The Indianapolis Colts beat the New Orleans Saints 10-3 in the annual Hall of Fame exhibition game.

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