Jack Del Rio wanted some stability in his professional football career, and the Minnesota linebacker believes he's found it with the Vikings.
Minnesota is the fourth stop for Del Rio, who will face one of his former teams today when the Vikings host Dallas in a 3 p.m. contest at the Metrodome.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Del Rio said several Cowboys remain his friends from the three years he played in Dallas. Owner Jerry Jones, however, is not on Del Rio's Christmas card list.
Del Rio said he's still bitter over the way Jones treated him after the 1990 season. Del Rio recorded 104 tackles for the Cowboys that year, despite playing on an injured knee which required surgery after the season.
"The knee would get all puffy every week and I'd be limping around until Sunday," Del Rio said. "I fought through it and took one for the team. Then I turned around and what was my reward?
Jerry Jones gave me a contract that would pay me only half of the money if I got hurt. " Not only did Del Rio not get injured in 1991, he led the Cowboys in tackles with 130 stops. But the former All-American at Southern Cal who was drafted by New Orleans in 1985, traded to Kansas City in 1988 and claimed off waivers by Dallas when the Chiefs waived him in 1989, signed with the Vikings in 1992 under the old Plan B free agency system.
"I have a lot of respect for Jerry Jones as a businessman. He won a Super Bowl in four years and kept his bottom dollar down," Del Rio said. "But I think you can accomplish things without stomping on people, without degrading people and without treating people unfairly.
"He makes a nice profit. But is he a good people person? I don't think so. He's not like I want to be. " Del Rio played under six head coaches and seven defensive coordinators in his first eight NFL seasons. Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson didn't protect him from the Cowboys' Plan B roster because Johnson questioned Del Rio's pass coverage ability.
Del Rio, who intercepted three passes last week against Detroit and led the Vikings in tackles last season with 153, said "maybe I didn't fit into (Dallas') scheme. But I fit into the scheme here. " The Minnesota middle linebacker said he felt no bitterness or hurt when he watched the Cowboys win last season's Super Bowl, with rookie Robert Jones starting at his middle linebacker position.
"I've never been a guy who had to have somebody else fail for me to feel successful," Del Rio said. "I developed a lot of friendships in Dallas and I was really proud of those guys. "
From Pharmacy to Football Minnesota went to a drug store in Columbus, Ohio, to find the man the Vikings will start at running back against the Cowboys. Scottie Graham was a seventh-round pick out of Ohio State last year by Pittsburgh. Cut by the Steelers and waived by the Jets during this season's training camp, the 5-9, 215-pound Graham was working at the Linden Avenue Pharmacy and preparing for graduate school at Ohio State when the Vikings called and offered him a spot on their practice squad.
When Graham's former Ohio State teammate, Vikings rookie Robert Smith, suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against Detroit, coach Dennis Green said Graham was the new starter.
Although Graham's career totals are 95 yards on 29 carries, Green promoted him ahead of veterans Roger Craig and Barry Word.
"Our running game has been average at best," Green said.
"Scottie was ready for the opportunity. He's physical and he plays hard. "
Short Shots Phoenix running back Ron Moore joined some elite company last week when he rushed for four touchdowns against the Rams. Moore, who played at Star Spencer and Pittsburg (Kan.) State, became only the fifth rookie in NFL history to score four times in a game. The other four include Jim Brown (1957), Gale Sayers (1965), Earl Campbell (1978) and Emmitt Smith (1990) . . . Running back Marcus Allen has scored 13 of Kansas City's 23 offensive touchdowns this season. Only Abner Haynes, with 19 in 1962 when the Chiefs were known as the Dallas Texans, has scored more in franchise history in one season . .
. The 9-3 Chiefs can clinch the AFC title for the first time since 1971 if they win at Denver today and the Raiders lose at home against Seattle. Kansas City, however, has lost 10 straight at Mile High Stadium . . . Tampa Bay coach Sam Wyche called off last Wednesday's practice because 19 guys were on the injured list. "Nineteen guys is a world record for me," Wyche said.
Last Shot There was a crisis in Atlanta's locker room last Sunday, and it wasn't because the Falcons had just lost to Houston. Instead, Atlanta cornerback Deion Sanders was in a panic after he discovered someone had stolen his favorite pair of underwear - green boxer shorts that featured white dollar signs.
Sanders insisted he wore the same underwear to every Falcons game for five seasons, and said "they were my lucky drawers, man. I hope somebody will read this and return them. I'm serious, man. " After Atlanta quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver listened to Sanders, he replied, "you wore them for five years? Who'd want them? " BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 560020