On the night before Christmas, a season that couldn't get worse did when the Jets learned that Dick Steinberg, their embattled 59-year-old vice president and general manager, was apparently suffering from stomach cancer.

A terse announcement was made by team president Steve Gutman a half-hour before the Jets' finale here at the Astrodome, saying Steinberg had "a presumptive diagnosis of a form of treatable stomach cancer.""Further diagnostic procedures and confirmatory tests are proceeding to determine the course of treatment," the statement continued.

Dick Haley, the player personnel director and a close friend of Steinberg, will take over "on an interim basis," said Gutman, "on those occasions when Dick may not be available for club business."

Haley said he did not find out until Saturday, though he said he had "hints" Friday that something was wrong physically.

View Comments

Steinberg's absence here, and at the heavily scouted practice sessions for Sunday's Blue-Gray college all-star game in Montgomery, Ala., fueled speculation that his job was in immediate jeopardy. It was to forestall that speculation, fanned by several calls to Steinberg's Long Island home Saturday morning, that the Jets made the pre-game announcement in the Astrodome press box - even before telling the coaches and players.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.