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POOR DEBERG COULD AGAIN BE IN WRONG PLACE AT WRONG TIME

SHARE POOR DEBERG COULD AGAIN BE IN WRONG PLACE AT WRONG TIME

You gotta feel for Steve DeBerg.

You don't have to admire his talent, but you gotta feel for him.You remember DeBerg, the lightly regarded quarterback from San Jose State who was the starter for the San Francisco 49ers until a guy named Montana came along, and then he was the starter for the Denver Broncos until a guy named Elway came along, and then he was the starter for the Tampa Bay Buccanners until a guy named Steve Young came along.

But then he got stubborn. After being the Bucs' starter for most of '85, DeBerg lost his job for most of '86, winning it back late in the season. He performed well enough, in fact, that the Bucs traded Young to the 49ers.

And then along came a guy named Testaverde . . .

So last season DeBerg finds himself with the Chiefs, who were in desperate need of a quarterback, and, once again, he performed adequately, if not spectacularly.

And then, this season, along came a guy named Jaworski . . . Now wait just a minute. This is Ron Jaworski, right? Not some young-buck rookie out of Pass U., but the 38-year-old Polish Rifle out of Youngstown State, right?

Right. After the Chiefs had stumbled to an 1-2 start behind DeBerg, the call went out to journeyman Jaworski, himself recently deposed in Philadelphia by Randall Cunningham, and DeBerg went back to the bench.

But this time DeBerg's replacement was no fairy-tale prince. It was a rusty Polish Rifle who misfired on four interceptions in losing Sunday to the Bengals.

So where does that leave DeBerg? Hard to say now, but try this scenario on for size: He regains his starting job and wins a couple of games for the Chiefs, but then Kansas City ends up with the worst record in the league, and then there's this guy in the draft named Scott Mitchell, and then . . .

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QB SHUFFLE: After ex-Aggie Bob Gagliano was unimpressive as the Lions' starting quarterback in the first three games of the season, rookie Rodney Peete of USC was given the ball Sunday. Peete had his problems, however, completing just 15 of 30 for 160 yards, with one interception.

So midway through the third quarter, with the Steelers leading 17-3, Coach Wayne Fontes benched Peete in favor of Gagliano. But it just got worse. Gagliano completed 4 of 16 for 75 yards and one interception.

The next ex-Aggie signal-caller to get a shot at quarterbacking the Lions may be the forgotten Eric Hipple.

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CHARGED CHARGERS: That ne'er-do-well team in San Diego is getting fired up about their season, and for one reason: "The difference between this year and last?" said Charger cornerback Gill Byrd. "This team has Jim McMahon and a winning attitude. He's a leader. And it shows."

Take last Sunday's game in Phoenix, for instance. The Cardinals had used an overstacked defense - shifting an extra linebacker to the strong side of the field - to limit the Chargers to 80 yards total offense in the first half.

At halftime McMahon decided to start checking off to the other side, which allowed the ground game to start working. And then he started beating the blitz with quick passes, and finished with 15-of-23 completions for 188 yards, and no interceptions.

Next Sunday the Chargers play the Broncos in Mile High Stadium. If they win, it will tie them with Denver for the AFC West lead. They probably won't win, but don't count them out.

They've got a quarterback who doesn't like to lose.

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BIG GAMES: Local players who tallied impressive stats in Sunday's games:

- Leon White, ex-Cougar linebacker, had five tackles and one sack for minus-10 yards for Bengals against Chiefs.

- Al Smith, ex-Aggie linebacker, had six tackles for Oilers against Dolphins.

- Rodney Thomas, ex-BYU cornerback, had six tackles for Dolphins against Oilers.

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SHORT STUFF: Tom Holmoe, cut by the 49ers after the preseason, was re-signed by them last week and played against the Rams Sunday . . . Ex-Weber Stater Roger Ruzek of the Cowboys booted his first two field goals of this season Sunday, a 19-yarder and a 33-yarder . . . Ex-Aggie Greg Kragen of Denver will be out two to four weeks with strained knee ligaments.