Medication Likely Cause Of Player's Heart Rate

Posted: August 10, 1993

A mixture of an over-the-counter decongestant and cold water may have triggered the irregular heartbeat that forced New York Giants lineman William Roberts to leave an exhibition game Saturday, his doctor said yesterday.

Jeffrey Borer said he did not consider Roberts' condition life-threatening, adding that it is not uncommon for people with irregular heartbeats to have such episodes occasionally.

Roberts had to leave Saturday's exhibition game in Cincinnati in the third quarter when his heartbeat increased rapidly, the third time in two years that he has experienced the problem.

"It seems unlikely he has an underlying problem that would cause greater difficulty than we've seen," Borer said in a telephone interview.

Borer said Roberts would be monitored over the next week or so, adding he might return to the field within the next two weeks.

"It's a non-life-threatening condition," Borer said. "The problem is it rendered the heart less effective as a pumping device."

While Giants coach Dan Reeves also sounded optimistic that Roberts would be able to play again, he said the team would not take any chances when it came to the health of the 31-year-old guard. He said Roberts would not play Saturday against Pittsburgh and probably would miss the following week's game against the New York Jets.

"Certainly I think everyone is sensitive (as a result of) the Reggie Lewis deal," Reeves said, referring to the Boston Celtics captain who recently died after being diagnosed with a heart abnormality."

Doctors said Roberts' problem is atrial fibrillation, which is not the same condition that led to Lewis' death two weeks ago. Roberts, who had two episodes with an irregular heartbeat last season, was released from New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center yesterday.

SKINS WIN. Washington opened its exhibition season last night with a new coach, some new quick-pass plays and showed the form that brought it a Super Bowl trophy two years ago, beating the Cleveland Browns, 41-12.

Quarterback Mark Rypien, coming off a 9-7 season in which he threw more interceptions than touchdown passes, looked like he did two years ago. Completing 8 of 12 passes, including one for a touchdown, he gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead on their first two possessions before retiring for the night.

Traditionally a drop-back passer, Rypien had little trouble with the new extra-back, quick-timing routes borrowed from the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.

The plays were added by rookie head coach Richie Petitbon.

With starting center Jay Hilgenberg sidelined with a sprained calf, the Browns were plagued by fumbles throughout the night.

Former Tampa Bay quarterback Vinny Testaverde completed 10 of 15 passes for 108 yards as Bernie Kosar's backup for the Browns. Kosar completed 4 of 11 passes for 39 yards before he was removed.

Rypien completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders. Backup quarterback Cary Conklin also contributed a touchdown with a 6-yard pass to Mark Stock, a backup receiver struggling to make the team.

CINCINNATI. David Fulcher, a starter for seven years at strong safety, was released by the Bengals.

"It's like a slap in the face, really," he said. "But it happens. It happens all around the league. I'd say that they made a mistake, because I think I can still play."

Fulcher's release seemingly clears the way for rookie Lance Gunn, a seventh-round draft pick from Texas, to take over.

GREEN BAY. The Packers narrowed their holdouts to three as defensive end Matt Brock signed a one-year contract.

He has moved to the right side of the line to make room for newcomer Reggie White on the left.

The Packers released J.J. Lasley, a rookie fullback out of Stanford, to make room on the roster for Brock.