As he leads the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL’s post-season, quarterback Jeff Garcia keeps hearing he’s gay.


He says he isn’t. Not, he says, that there’s anything wrong with it.


"I’m not gay, but it’s impossible to count how many times I’ve heard people suggest I am," Garcia said. "I don’t know if it’s how I speak or what it is about me that presents that sort of label, but it’s out there and never goes away, regardless of how often I’m out in public with a female.


"I’m sure that, because I’m (approaching his 37th birthday) and am not married, people draw conclusions. But the conclusions are incorrect."


Garcia said he has reached the point where he blocks out talk about his sexual preference.

"As a professional quarterback," he said, "you need thick skin. You have to know what to pay attention to and what to disregard, both on and off the field."

Garcia said it was during his CFL days in Calgary last decade when he first heard folks suggesting he was homosexual.

"It bothered me, but there was so much I liked about Canada that the pros outweighed the cons for me," Garcia said. "It was in the CFL where I learned how to properly read defences, how to scramble for extra time and how to sacrifice my body for extra yardage. I couldn’t have made it to the NFL without the CFL."

Terrell Owens, who attempted to deride Garcia a few years ago by calling him gay, has fired his publicist, Kim Etheridge, who attracted lots of attention when she called 911 and spoke at a news conference after her ex-client overdosed in September ... There’s conjecture, by the way, that Bill Parcells won’t return as the Cowboys’ coach next season unless Owens is off the team. And, if Owens goes, don’t be surprised if Keyshawn Johnson leaves Carolina and resurfaces in Dallas ... In the CFL, Hamilton is hiring two assistant coaches who were with Winnipeg. Mike Working will be the Tiger-Cats’ newoffensive co-ordinator and Gregg Butler will coach their defensive backfield ... Ken Miller, an assistant with the Argonauts the past five seasons, likely will become the Roughriders’ new offensive co-ordinator ... Saskatchewan running back Kenton Keith is trying again to jump to the NFL and has spent recent days auditioning for the Cowboys, Buffalo, Minnesota and Indianapolis.

•In the NBA, Steve Francis and the Knicks are discussing a buyout ... And New Jersey has rejected this trade offer from the Clippers: Corey Maggette and Cuttino Mobley for Vince Carter.