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Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Christie angry at Bills for way he got boot

September 11, 2001

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— Kicker Steve Christie turned on the evening news to discover he was being referred to as the Buffalo Bills' "public relations nightmare."

After pausing to watch the TV report, Christie chuckled and said, "I would say that."

In an interview with the Associated Press, Christie was angry at how a team that he spent nine years with gave him the boot last weekend.

"I've tried to handle the business side with class, and I really don't think in this case they did," said Christie, the most accomplished kicker in Bills history. "I've been here a long time and I've made Buffalo my home. For them to handle this situation like they did was unacceptable, unacceptable."

Unable to kick in Sunday's season opener against New Orleans because of a strained groin, Christie was effectively cut when the Bills placed him on the reserved-injured list on Saturday.

The Bills announced the news in a two-paragraph press release and refused to answer questions regarding Christie's status until Monday.

That's when team president Tom Donahoe said the Bills were considering the option of settling Christie's contract, which under NFL rules would allow the possibility of re-signing him after Week 10 this season.

"That's what we're investigating right now," Donahoe said. "We would like to sit down and talk to him ... to explain what we're trying to do."

Donahoe said he was unable to contact Christie or his agent Gil Scott on Saturday.

This was news to Christie, still stung by the way he was informed a telephone call from Bills special teams coach Danny Smith.

"The language Danny Smith used was, 'You are cut, injured. You're cut,' meaning none of this 10 weeks and we'll have you back," Christie said. "The impression left with me was, 'You're cut. You're out of here."'

Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold, reached late Monday evening, said Donahoe stood by his statements earlier in the day.

Christie all but closed the door on any likelihood of playing for Buffalo again.

"Would you sign back?" Christie said. "Maybe in 10 weeks my feelings and my gut instincts will have taken a turn. But at this point, who would be comfortable doing that?"

Christie said his ire was raised further from the way he saw many other Bills veterans treated this past offseason by a new front office, which includes Donahoe and rookie head coach Gregg Williams.

Rebuilding through youth, the Bills spent the last seven months releasing or failing to re-sign nine longtime veterans, including punter Chris Mohr, long-snapper Ethan Albright and safety Henry Jones.

"It hurts to see your boys get sent down like that," Christie said. "And then when it happens to you, it's like, 'Wow, geez, what's going on?' I don't think they've handled the older guys very well at all."

Although he's not ready to retire, this is not the way Christie envisioned ending his career with the Bills, whom he joined after spending his first two NFL seasons in Tampa Bay.

Along with holding seven Bills records, Christie is second on the NFL list with seven overtime field goals, two behind Jim Breech. He played up to his clutch reputation last season by hitting four game-winning field goals in the final minute or in overtime.

Christie is especially held in high regard among Bills fans for succeeding Scott Norwood, whose 47-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right with 4 seconds remaining, sealing Buffalo's 20-19 loss to the New York Giants in the 1991 Super Bowl.

"All in all, if you put this weekend aside, I've had a great time and a great career in Buffalo," Christie said.

Christie plans to have an MRI exam on Tuesday to determine the extent of his groin strain. Once healthy, he will begin trying out for other teams in hopes of playing a few more seasons.

Christie has already been contacted by at least one team, the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos.

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