Saturday, August 14, 1999
Fuamatu-MaafalaStaff and wire reports
blocks out Bears
Hawaii's Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala once said he'd do anything the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted him to do, even on special teams.
Last night, the 5-foot-11, 250-pound second-year running back blocked a punt, which resulted in a controversial first-quarter touchdown in the Steelers' 30-23 victory over the Chicago Bears at Three Rivers Stadium.
On fourth down at the 13-yard line, Fuamatu-Ma'afala busted through the middle of Chicago's line to block Todd Sauerbrun's punt.
Hines Ward jumped on it before it could roll through the end zone.
The officials at first said Ward's body had crossed the end line, making it a two-point safety.
Pittsburgh receivers coach Bob Bratkowski, watching the replay from upstairs, told head coach Bill Cowher he thought the officials were right.
But Cowher decided to use the privilege of instant replay challenge. The officials looked at the play and overturned it, ruling that Ward had possession of the ball before he rolled out of the end zone.
With the touchdown, the Steelers took a 14-7 lead with 3:51 left in the quarter.
Fuamatu-Ma'afala, who is competing to replace Jerome Bettis in the starting lineup, had four carries for 1 yard. His two main rivals for the starting position are rookie Amos Zeroue, who had six carries for 17 yards, and Richard Huntley, who had four carries for -3 yards.
Kreutz alternates: Olin Kreutz, who was a teammate of Fuamatu-Ma'afala at St. Louis School, alternated at center for the Bears with Casey Wiegmann yesterday. In a rare statistic, Kreutz was credited with one carry for 0 yards.
Retirement is final: The pros-pect of more millions and becoming the NFL's rushing leader wasn't worth continuing his career with the Detroit Lions.
Barry Sanders announced July 28 that he would not return to the Lions, and he spent the last two days repeating the message -- to his father, a Lions representative and a reporter waiting in his driveway.
"That is it. I am done," Sanders, speaking outside his home in Rochester Hills, told The Oakland (Mich.) Press yesterday.
But the 10-year veteran told the newspaper that he had nothing to say to his fans, his teammates or the Detroit organization.
"I am sorry, but I just can't talk about this," Sanders said.
Earlier yesterday, Sanders told a Lions official that he wouldn't reconsider his decision to retire, the Detroit Free Press reported.
"He said he gave it a lot of thought and he wants to go out on top," said Lions security director Allen "Jocko" Hughes, a family friend who has been staying with Sanders' father, William, in Wichita, Kan., while the team has been trying to contact Barry Sanders.