For those who have followed the careers of both men, the recent pairing of Vinny Testaverde and Bill Parcells looks to be the worst idea since HopnGator, a brewery concoction consisting of one part Gatorade, one part beer.

HopnGator never quite made it. Consumers with taste buds took a swig or two and reached for the sauerkraut juice.Testaverde's signing with the Jets seems similarly ill-advised, if he is ever needed to be more than the backup to Cherry Hill's Glenn Foley, the Jets' probable starter.

Testaverde has considerable talent. The 34-year-old quarterback even made the Pro Bowl in 1996. But he also is cursed with a habit of throwing the interception, losing a fumble, trying to force the ball into double coverage, or making some other boneheaded mistake that costs his team the game.

During the 1996 and 1997 seasons, Testaverde played in Baltimore, and his combined record was 8-20-1. Over his 11-year career, he has thrown 175 touchdown passes and 183 interceptions. With the game up for grabs, Testaverde often flops.

That is a failing Parcells cannot stand, and one he invariably tries to correct by screaming insults into the errant signal-caller's face.

That's a situation certain to rattle Testaverde and his fragile ego even more.

Tuna vs. Vinny. Should be fun to watch.

HOMEBOYS: The Cleveland ownership derby added another player Wednesday when Howard Milstein joined the battle for the Browns. Milstein is a New Yorker who is highly thought of by other NFL owners, quite possibly because his net worth has been estimated at $1 billion.

Milstein also threw his hat into the ring impressively, at a news conference in which he introduced five prominent Cleveland businessmen as minority investors in his group.

Collectively, they would own 20 percent to 25 percent of the club, but their addition greatly enhances Milstein's ownership potential by establishing a link to the city of Cleveland.

Milstein also said he would give his Fab Five control over any future decision on the Browns' moving out of Cleveland. Milstein thus eliminated the fear that he may turn out to be a New York carpetbagger who will take the team somewhere else for a better deal (like, say, Art Modell did).

"I can understand the fans' concern," Milstein said. "Once burned, twice shy. I think we addressed that today by bringing in these local investors."

LETTER OF INTENT: June usually is downtime for most people in the NFL, but the month has been a busy one, as usual, for Dick Vermeil.

Minicamps and playbook and film study aside, the Rams coach took some time a week ago to write a letter to John Gerak, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive guard who started all 16 games last season.

Gerak asked for and got his release from the team on Tuesday, after he fell to third place on the depth chart and realized he had almost no chance to be a starter.

"I wrote him a note and just told him if he has a change of heart and doesn't end up on a roster with an opportunity that looks much better, I would reopen the door for him and let him come back, because I think he can play a lot better than he did last year," Vermeil said.

Gerak got high marks from Vermeil last season for those true-grit qualities the former Eagles coach has always admired: toughness, du-ra-bil-ity and the absence of complaints about injuries.

Despite painful injuries in both elbows, Gerak logged the second-highest total of plays (899) of any offensive lineman.

"He's such a tough guy, he won't tell you how banged up he is. He plays anyway," Vermeil said. "He had one operation on his right elbow already, which made it a lot better. Now he's going to have his left one done. With two good elbows and the heart he has, you never know how much better he can play."

Vermeil is concerned that, in Gerak's absence, the Rams will not have a hard line, so to speak.

"Our whole offensive line needs to become more competitive and get a tougher frame of mind and approach to the game for us to improve, and he was the one guy that didn't have to improve in that area," Vermeil said. "He wasn't playing football for money. He was playing because he loves to play."

NAME GAMES: Complaints about insensitivity have convinced the owner of the new semipro football team in Springfield, Mo., to announce that his franchise will not be known as the Psychos when its players start on July 18. The team instead will be identified as the Rage (and whoever heard of a team name like that?). The name Psychotics must have been taken.

The Washington Redskins, in the meantime, continue to do business with no apology for a team name that American Indians consider to be grossly offensive.

And one can only wonder if political correctness will catch up with Orofino, Idaho, the site of the largest psychiatric institution within the potato-growing state. The Orofino high school team name is the Maniacs - and the high school was in Orofino long before the hospital. Yeah, right. Art Modell, the magnanimous owner of the Baltimore Ravens who abandoned Cleveland for a city with a tax-supported stadium that will require season-ticket holders to buy a personal seat license, on the purchase price of the new NFL team in the Ohio city, which may reach $500 million: "I hope common sense prevails about the pricing. Some people in the league are being carried away. They've gone berserk over the price. It ought to be fair. I'm not one for gouging."