Guest column by Jeremy Snyder
30th OF JANUARY, WASHINGTON
“Come on, Sandy baby, loosen up. You’re too tight.”
— Washington Redskins running back John Riggins, giving advice to Supreme Court Justice/tablemate Sandra Day O’Connor during the D.C. Press Club’s “Salute to Congress” dinner. Riggins later fell asleep and loudly snored throughout Vice President George Bush’s keynote speech.
THE ONCE AND FUTURE VIKING
“When [Minnesota Vikings owner Max] Winter came to me, he told me the elevator had gone down the shaft to the bottom, and it was a long climb up. He said they needed credibility, and the best way to get it was to hire me back. I could retain the staff, that the players knew me, that I was the quickest way to do it. It sounded like they needed it desperately — I’m not sure about desperately — but in their minds it was.”
— Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant, given a lifetime contract and full autonomy to return to the team after a single disastrous season with Les Steckel at the helm.
DOUG FLUTIE’S AMERICAN FOOTBALL CAREER, ENCAPSULATED
“I think I’m ready. I didn’t prove it today, but I believe I will next week.”
— New Jersey Generals quarterback/reigning Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie, who threw three interceptions in the February season opener. Flutie had signed a near-record contract with the United States Football League team just two weeks earlier.
“He looks like a little kid running around out there.”
— Anonymous NFL executive. Flutie would last until the 11th round of the subsequent NFL draft.
WORLD’S GREATEST ATHLETE AT WORK
“He could really run, and he could really jump. He was explosive, but he had no idea what was going on. He knew nothing about a three-point stance. He kept asking me in his British accent, ‘Tom, what am I doing here? Tom, why am I here? Tom, what’s a bloody route?'”
— Los Angeles Raiders coach Tom Flores, unimpressed with two-time defending Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson, who went unsigned after a March tryout.
AS A CONSOLATION PRIZE, ALZADO GOT ACCESS TO DRAGO’S SECRET TRAINING REGIMEN
“Sly and I talked it over, but we decided I looked too much like Sly to do the role. He eventually got a European kid.”
— Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado, turned down for the part of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.
DO WE GET TO WIN THIS TIME?
— The Dan Marino-coached Miami Dolphins won 58-52, evening their record against the San Francisco 49ers in the 1985 calendar year.
PLAYING A BIT TOO LEISURELY
“[Bruce] Smith is a happy-go-lucky guy who tends to be lazy. He also likes to eat.”
— Draft expert Joel Buschbaum, who labeled No. 1 overall draft pick Bruce Smith as the Buffalo Bills’ worst pick, but nevertheless rated the Buffalo Bills as having the best draft in the league and added that Smith could be a super player “if the Buffalo Bills can get the most out of him.”
— WHEN PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANTED TO PLAY FOR THE BROWNS
“I’m doing what they said I’m allowed to do. I’m going to finish school this semester, which ends in 10 days. And then I’m going to go on from there.”
— University of Miami quarterback/graduating junior Bernie Kosar, who waited until after the normal deadline to declare himself eligible for the NFL draft. By doing so, he bypassed the regular draft (and the Minnesota Vikings, who had traded up with the Houston Oilers for the No. 2 pick) for the supplemental draft, guaranteeing that he’d end up with his hometown Cleveland Browns, who had already traded for the Buffalo Bills’ supplemental No. 1. (The supplemental draft order has been determined by a day-of-draft lottery in future years.)
LET’S GO OVER THE PLAN AGAIN
“I figured this might be a good time to get a concussion, but I knew it was supposed to happen on the second play. I didn’t know what to do, but we were lying near our bench and I saw [head coach] Ron [Meyer]. He was pushing his hand down, telling me to stay there, so I grabbed my head. … About three doctors came out. One was pulling my leg and another was pulling my arm. I kept whispering, ‘It’s supposed to be my head.'”
— New England Patriots wide receiver Derwin Williams, recounting for the Boston Globe his 1984 preseason “injury” that allowed the New England Patriots to stash him on injured reserve for the season. The New England Patriots would be docked their 1986 third-round pick after the subsequent investigation.
THE USFL’S SINGLE-SEASON RECEIVING YARDS RECORD HOLDER HAS TWO SUPER BOWL RINGS, AND MAYBE 2 PERCENT OF PEOPLE READING THIS HAVE HEARD OF HIM
“Setting records is good, but they’re just records, and what do you do with them?”
— New Jersey Generals running back Herschel Walker, on the verge of breaking Eric Dickerson’s U.S. professional record for rushing yards in a season.
FOOTBALL FATHERHOOD IN 1985, PART I
“If we do as well in the field as our players have done in the maternity ward, we’ll have a heckuva year.”
— Kansas City Chiefs head coach John Mackovic. Thirteen Chiefs players became fathers during the 1984-85 offseason, a fact Mackovic gleaned from the data he compiled on the computer that he had bought for his family as a Christmas present before appropriating it for the office.
TO BE FAIR, DAN MARINO NEVER MADE ANOTHER SUPER BOWL
“He had a great year, but it’s only one year. Anybody is capable of having a great year. … We learned a lot about Marino in the Super Bowl. The pressure put on by San Francisco got to him. I think he caved in to the pressure.”
— Former Rams/Redskins/Arizona Wranglers head coach George Allen, who ranked the defending MVP seventh among professional quarterbacks in a TV Guide preseason preview. Jim Kelly, in the same draft class and without a single NFL appearance, was ranked second.
A DIFFERENT WAY OF MAKING MONEY FROM COLLEGE FOOTBALL
“Room, board, tuition, and fees is $7,700 a year here. The ad cost $1,500. That spelled a tidy profit as soon as it produced its first player.”
— Upper Iowa head coach Steve Fickert, who placed an ad in the Chicago Sun-Times looking for new talent for his undermanned Division III squad.
IT WAS AT THAT VERY MOMENT THAT CLEMENS VOWED NEVER TO GET OUT OF SHAPE
“We were playing basketball in the gym this winter and he came in. It looked like all his weight had all shifted downward, like he hadn’t been lifting weights. I couldn’t believe it. He was an animal at school, a monster. I don’t know what happened.”
— Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens on New England Patriots defensive end Kenneth Sims, a University of Texas schoolmate, who had recorded just 6.5 career sacks since being picked first overall in 1982.
ONE IF BY MAYFLOWER
“It’ll never match my midnight ride of Paul Revere.”
— Indianapolis Colts owner Bob Irsay, deriding a potential Cardinals move from St. Louis.
SUDDENLY REALIZING THAT THE EDSEL WAS A MORE RECENT CULTURAL REFERENCE FOR THE READERS OF 1985 THAN 1985 CULTURAL REFERENCES ARE FOR ANYONE READING THIS
“The New England Patriots are the Edsel of the NFL, and all the Sullivans do is tinker with the hood ornament.”
— Former New England Patriots head coach Ron Meyer on the team’s owners, whom he also called a “fraternity of losers.”
SOMETHING GOOD IS GOING TO HAPPEN
“The only thing that ever drives us in is lightning. The cold, hard facts of life are that you might have to play on a day like this, and I don’t know how to prepare for it unless you practice on a day like this.”
— Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, who held two-a-days outside during Tropical Storm Bob.
“He said, ‘O.J., in this world, there are rules we must all live by if we’re going to be successful. You’re going to have to learn to accept the responsibility for your actions.'”
— New Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson, recounting the advice from his junior high school coach, who had reported Simpson to the principal after he caught Simpson shooting dice in the school bathroom.
“[Fellow inductee] Joe [Namath] was a godsend. Before Joe, fans never looked at players as real people. We were thought of as milk and apple pie eaters. Joe said, ‘I like my women blond and my Johnny Walker Red.’ I liked that. It made it easier for all players who followed him. We no longer attempted to be somebody perfect.”
— Simpson, continuing his induction speech.
WOULD YOU RECOGNIZE ME?
“You wonder what you have to do. I’ve been holding up my end and the recognition is still slow in coming. I’m still striving for someone to take note of me, even in Atlanta.”
— Atlanta Falcons running back Gerald Riggs, coming off a Pro Bowl-less 1,486-yard season. Riggs would rush for 1,719 yards in 1985 and make the Pro Bowl thanks in part to a generous number of carries while trailing late in games.
SPRING FOOTBALL: SUCCESSFUL AS ALWAYS
“I came here for what I thought was going to be great fan support. It hasn’t happened that way.”
— Birmingham Stallions running back Joe Cribbs, who had left the Buffalo Bills two years earlier for a five-year, $2.85-million contract in the USFL. Average attendance was under 20,000 per game.
“It is too expensive to run a football team on the revenue available in the spring. I don’t think you can last long enough in the spring to change people’s habits to get the following you need. There are too many other diversions.”
— USFL commissioner Harry Usher, announcing that the league would be shifting to a fall schedule for the 1986 season.
WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO VISIT ROCHESTER, MICHIGAN, IN AUGUST?
“He had some business there. It was a coincidence. Just one of those things.”
— Patrick Forte, the agent for Memphis Showboats defensive end Reggie White, trying to explain why White was in attendance at an Eagles-Lions joint practice. White, who would sign with the Philadelphia Eagles a month later after his USFL contract was bought out, was one of a handful of players who played the entire NFL season only months after playing the entire USFL season.
THIS MAY BE THE ONLY TIME ANYONE EVER CALLED ROB RYAN ‘NICE’
“He hasn’t shown me anything. It’s a wasted draft choice and a waste of money. We should have given the money to (holdout safety) Todd Bell and the pros we know who can play, and brought them to camp. We should have forgotten about him. He’s an overweight kid and a nice kid, but you know, I got twin boys at home that are nice kids, and I don’t want them playing for me.”
— Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, unhappy with rookie first-round defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry. Perry missed afternoon practice on the second day of training camp due to cramps.
HEADS WAS DUE
“Well, Art, that’s the first bet you’ve won in a long time.”
— An anonymous Indianapolis Colts player after Art Schlichter won a coin toss with Mike Pagel to determine which quarterback would start the preseason opener. Schlichter had been suspended for the entire 1983 season after running up about $1.6 million in gambling debts.
FOOTBALL FATHERHOOD IN 1985, PART II
“Daddy, daddy, come home, come home. Mommy and me miss you. We want you to come back!”
— An unnamed five-year-old boy, running onto the field during Cincinnati Bengals training camp to hug mortified offensive lineman Brian Blados, in what was later revealed to be a prank played by head coach Sam Wyche.
WHAT IF YOU FIND YOU MADE A MISTAKE?
“When I was one-quarter of the way across, I got scared and started praying.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers fan Walter Remo, who barely made it down after climbing onto a guy-wire 70 feet above Three Rivers Stadium late in the Steelers-Giants preseason game. Remo pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct and was fined $73.50.
APOLITICAL SONG FOR A SEAHAWKS LINEBACKER TO SING
“We’re working hard for the Super Bowl/And the Blue Wave is on the roll.”
— Actual lyrics from Locker Room Rock, a Seattle Seattle Seahawks music video filmed in August.
ONE WAY TO PERHAPS MOTIVATE A COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM
“Some of my coaching friends told me, ‘You’re crazy doing that.’ I don’t think I’m crazy. I just believe in growing and trying new things.”
— University of Hawaii coach Dick Tomey, who organized a preseason team-building firewalk.
“It was a little tougher than playing Iowa.”
— Hawaii linebacker Mike Beazley, one of over 80 players who walked over 1,200-degree coals.
“They’ve been singling me out for years now. I don’t know why; I guess I’m just one of those guys they like to single out. The fact is, everybody in the league lines up the same depth — 9 yards.”
— Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Herm Edwards, frequently criticized for lining too far off receivers. At age 31, Edwards was the oldest cornerback in the NFC.
DAN’S NOT HERE
“We were sent here by the NFL commissioner to test these guys out for drug use. Everybody who says they listen to our records, we take their names and turn them in.”
— Grammy Award-winning cannabis enthusiasts Cheech and Chong, visiting Miami Dolphins training camp while promoting Born in East L.A. The NFL had no established drug testing policy at the time.
“I’d like to say she had broken her leg chasing out an intruder, but she was chasing a chipmunk.”
— Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant, explaining that he’d have to cut a post-practice press conference short because he had to pick up his injured hunting dog from the veterinarian.
LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD
“I just took it for granted that I could just come right in and do it.”
— Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, after a career-worst performance in a season-opening loss to the Houston Oilers. Marino had held out the entire preseason in hopes of renegotiating the remaining two years, and $1 million left on his rookie contract. Other notable holdouts that season included fellow 1984 record-setter Eric Dickerson, who sat out the first two games of the year; both Jets starting offensive tackles, who missed the season-opening 31-0 loss in which Ken O’Brien was sacked ten times; and Chicago Bears defenders Al Harris and Todd Bell, who both sat out the entire 1985 season.
FABLES OF THE KNEE RECONSTRUCTION
“I saw the daylight, and I saw that paydirt stripe. I didn’t want to be denied. … I’ve been out a whole year, just thinking about coming back. Today, I let a whole year of waiting … oh, what should I say … out. I let it all come out today.”
— Seattle Seahawks running back Curt Warner, who scored the winning touchdown in the season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Several skill position stars tore their ACLs in 1984; Warner was the only one to return at anything close to his old level of play.
HOW NOT TO MOTIVATE A COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM
“The weakness of the will here — not wanting to go out and stay with a tremendous emotional approach against Harvard — meant that our vice was losing. So, in essence, our drug was losing, and we use adversity to go back to our old standards.”
— Columbia head coach Jim Garrett, backpedaling after calling his players “drug-addicted losers” when they blew a 17-0 lead in his debut. Garrett was later fired after a winless season.
“I would have made the kick if we had been penalized. That would have moved the kick back 5 yards. If I kicked from 5 yards deeper, the ball would have gone between the uprights because it was hooking inside when it hit the post.”
— Houston Oilers kicker Tony Zendejas, who doinked a potential game-tying 33-yard field goal off the goalposts in the fourth quarter of the team’s loss to the Washington Redskins. The Oilers had taken a timeout to avoid a delay of game flag.
STOP THE FIGHT!
“Get [Vince] Ferragamo and [Greg] Bell out of the game before they get killed.”
— Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, giving orders to general manager Terry Bledsoe during the second half of the team’s 42-3 loss to the New York Jets. Wilson then left for Belmont Park.
“They are the only two players we had and I thought they were going to get murdered. Why keep them on the field when they might get hurt? Most of the rest of them are not NFL players.”
— Wilson the next day, perhaps upset that his horse, odds-on favorite Key Dancer, got boxed in on the rail and finished fourth.
FIVE MONTHS EARLIER…
“I’ve been in some comebacks before but never anything like that. Pulling out that win was the best feeling I ever had in my life.”
— Houston Gamblers quarterback Jim Kelly, who threw for five touchdowns and a U.S. professional record 574 yards in a 34-33 win over the Los Angeles Express. The Gamblers had trailed 33-13 with 9:42 left.
OUT IN THE FIELDS WHERE NOTHING ELSE REMAINS
“The dome is essential for the success of the Kansas City Chiefs franchise. … Think of what Kansas City would be if it did not have the Royals or Chiefs. We’d be another St. Joseph.”
— Kansas City Chiefs team president Jack Steadman, unable to convince Jackson County (Missouri) to put a $43-million roof on Arrowhead Stadium.
BAD COMPARISONS DEPARTMENT
“Statistics are like loose women. You can do anything you want with them.”
— Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Henning, unwilling to contrast his two quarterbacks’ performances in a 44-10 loss to the Washington Redskins.
— CBS graphic, Week 4.
A ‘RECEIVER,’ OR HANDSET, WAS ONE COMPONENT OF A 1985-ERA TELEPHONE
“Q: Why does Joe Theismann’s phone ring and ring? A: Because he can’t find the receiver.”
— Early-season riddle told by several Washington Redskins players. Theismann, NFL MVP just two seasons earlier, was completing less than half of his passes.
WOO-HAH, BED CHECK
“The first thing to do is find out if he’s all right. That’s our first concern. Once we find out he’s all right, we’ll go from there. It’s like with kids who are supposed to be home by 11. You find out if they’re OK. Once you know they’re OK, you take out the stick.”
— Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant, worried about rookie wide receiver Buster Rhymes, who didn’t show up for two days of practice for what were later determined to be drug-related reasons. Rhymes was suspended for the next game.
HOLD IT, I’M AFRAID THE KINGDOME’S JUST TOO DARN LOUD
“TIME OUT ATLANTA — 1st of the 2nd half
Officials time out as Archer tells referee he can’t hear — 30 second time out.
Officials time out — noise — 20 seconds.
Officials time out — noise — referee request Coach Knox to ask for quiet — 30 seconds.”
— Play-by-play from the Seahawks-Falcons gamebook.
“It was so loud that we couldn’t even hear our defensive signals, so I know it had to affect their offense.”
— Seattle Seahawks linebacker Keith Butler.
WE’VE GOT TWO TURNTABLES AND A MICROPHONE
“I don’t think the shotgun is the solution to your problems. … The reason we’re playing around with it is because of another experiment, the one with the quarterback wearing the microphone. Crowd noise has been one of the drawbacks with the shotgun over the years is that the linemen can’t always hear the quarterback and he has to step back under center or call a timeout. But if this microphone thing works out, the shotgun might be worth using.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll, who had never employed the shotgun offense in his 16 years running the team.
“I just think we’re living in this age and we ought to utilize it. We can do things that people living in this generation expect you to do. As far as I’m concerned, as long as everybody on both sidelines has the same rules, why not?”
— Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm, who spearheaded the preseason pilot program that put radios in the helmets of offensive players.
“It opens up a Pandora’s box of getting into the electronics age and making football players into robots. I don’t want to do anything to take the human element out of football, and that definitely takes the human element out.”
— Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry.
DEFINITELY NOT HOW TO MOTIVATE A COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM
“We’ve elected these guys to lead us, and it’s obvious they’re not getting the job done. I don’t know but one thing to do, and that’s to get rid of them.”
— John O’Hara, head coach of 1-5 Southwest Texas State, complaining about his three captains during a team meeting. O’Hara then pulled out a starter pistol loaded with blanks and shot at them.
“I really probably should have alerted the guys to it, but it might not have had the same effect. … I want our players to realize that I’m serious about what we’re doing.”
— O’Hara, who somehow kept his job.
SLOWLY LEARNING THAT LIFE IS OK
“This is an interesting and challenging project and we believe in what we’re saying. The message is to feel good about yourself and try to be the best you can be. As the song says, no one falls to the top. It takes an ‘I can’ attitude, dedication, and very hard work to reach goals.”
— New Orleans Saints kicker Morten Andersen, who, with punter Brian Hansen, recorded Take It to the Top in October.
FOOTBALL FATHERHOOD IN 1985, PART III
“People won’t have to worry about [my wife becoming pregnant again] anymore.”
— Clemson coach Danny Ford, weeks after his wife Deborah gave birth to his first son (after three daughters). Deborah’s offhand remark about how Clemson always played better when she wasn’t pregnant led Clemson’s assistant sports information director to discover that Clemson was 8-8 when she was and 48-10-1 when she was not.
TRY NOT TO LAUGH
“We’re only asking Chris [Berman] to moderate his use of nicknames. We want to establish ‘SportsCenter’ as a show of record, and we don’t think nicknames fit in with hard, Page 1 sports news.”
— New SportsCenter executive producer Jack Gallivan.
JUMP (OUT OF THE BLOCKING LANES)
“We had a staff meeting about it last week and it got pretty vocal and I was doing most of the vocalizing. But we’ve got to do something about it, soon. We’re covering kickoffs like the Pointer Sisters .”
— New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells, unhappy with his special teams.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BAND ROUNDUP
“If the band sets foot on the field, I will turn the corps on you and tear you apart.”
— Army-West Point commandant Lt. Gen. Willard Scott, who vetoed the Yale band’s intended Reagan-mocking halftime show, then wouldn’t allow them to perform without a script. The next week, the Yale band mooned the visiting Holy Cross fan section.
“We’re conservative. We don’t kazoo.”
— Vanderbilt fans Herschel and Tom Moore, nevertheless counted as part of the world-record 35,286-person kazooing orchestra that played Row, Row, Row Your Boat during halftime of Vandy’s 38-24 loss to Virginia Tech.
PARTY SOME OF THE TIME
“I think the reason I went so low is that I had a party image, and that scared some people. For part of it, I’ve got to blame myself. I’m not all milk and cookies, but I’m not all drugs and booze either.”
— Cincinnati Bengals quarterback/1984 second-round pick Norman Esiason, who threw for 27 touchdowns in his first full year as a starter.
LINCOLN THEN LOST IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE MISSOURI STATE PLAYOFFS
“It’s turned out to be a real enjoyable year. The [team] is just beginning to peak.”
— Jerry Price, head coach of Kansas City’s Lincoln Academy, which had just beaten Northeast High by the score of 138-0. Lincoln’s ability to keep the score down was limited by their 22-man roster and lack of a kicker; Northeast forfeited their final game rather than experience another beatdown.
DARE TO BE STUPID
“We’re taught to jump on the ball and ask questions later. It’s always better to look like a fool for picking up a loose ball and running than to look like an even bigger fool when you do nothing and it turns out that you should have.”
— Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Reggie Williams, who returned an incomplete Browns backwards pass for a touchdown.
FOOTBALL FATHERHOOD IN 1985, PART IV
“I would have to think his first child, and everything that goes with it, has been a distraction. How much, no one will really know. Joe may not even realize how much himself. We’re still in the process of awaiting the birth of the child. We hope it’s soon.”
— San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, speculating during a news conference on the reasons for Joe Montana’s poor performance in a loss to the Saints. Later that day, Montana’s wife gave birth to a daughter.
“She’s barely a week old and people were already blaming her for our problems.”
— Montana, following the next week’s win.
MORE ABOUT RON MEYER AND CARS
“I’m honored that you invited me to come, especially when for $10,000 and a new convertible you could have had the top running back prospect at SMU.”
— NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw, the master of ceremonies at the NCAA awards luncheon. Southern Methodist’s football program had recently been put on probation for the fourth time in five years.
BIRTH OF A LEGEND
“They ran a big, fat offensive guard in the backfield last year against us. So we thought we’d run a big, fat defensive lineman against them.”
— Chicago Bears defensive tackle Dan Hampton, after Refrigerator Perry got two end-of-game carries in a blowout win against the San Francisco 49ers. In the previous year’s NFC Championship Game, the 49ers had frequently used reserve guard Guy McIntyre as a blocking back.
“We’ll take care of that. Somebody will hit him in the chops. From what I understand, he’s not much of a competitor.”
— Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm, asked how his team would stop the Fridge on goal-line carries.
“They say we haven’t played anybody. I guess you could say we still haven’t.”
— Chicago Bears linebacker Otis Wilson, following his team’s 44-0 win at the NFC East-leading Cowboys.
THINGS CAN ALWAYS GET WORSE
“NFL policy forbids us from giving away automobiles and trips to Europe, or burning mortgages. We have to go out and say we’re going to put on a good show — that win or lose, we’re going to give it 100% and we hope you enjoy seeing it. That’s about all we can do and that’s what we’re concentrating on doing.”
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse, struggling to sell tickets.
“I’m not deaf, I hear [the booing from the crowd]. This is depressing. Embarrassing. I don’t know how we can go much lower.”
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Steve DeBerg, eliminated from NFC Central contention with eight games still to play.
“This is the low point in Buc history. We’ve never lost this bad before. You just can’t get any lower than this.”
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Kevin House, demoralized by a 62-28 loss three games later at the Jets.
“Onside kick, onside kick.”
— The Meadowlands crowd, chanting after the Jets’ final touchdown with 1:14 left. (The year earlier, as part of an effort to get James Wilder the single-season yards from scrimmage record, Tampa Bay had repeatedly onside kicked against the Jets up 41-14 in the fourth quarter; when those kicks failed, they let the Jets score in order to get the ball back.)
“I was kind of excited when I woke up and saw the snow. I thought, ‘Hey, it’s Green Bay and Lambeau Field with all that history.’ … I really thought this was going to be fun, but it wasn’t fun.”
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Steve Young, shut out in a Green Bay blizzard. The game began with a 40-second search through the snow to discover on which side the coin had landed.
“We don’t want any special treatment because the Chicago Bears are 9-0.”
— Lawyer Don Rubin, defending Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka against DUI charges. The Cook County courtroom broke into applause.
A CLOSE READING OF THE 1985 RULEBOOK SUGGESTS THAT HOLDING THE BALL IN ONE’S MOUTH WOULD HAVE COUNTED AS POSSESSION
“Rice, take note.”
— A San Francisco 49ers fan watching dogs catch Frisbees during the Week 11 halftime show. Rookie first-rounder Jerry Rice dropped two passes in the game and fumbled away a third.
NO WORD ON WHERE THE SPANOS FAMILY WAS AT THE TIME
“It was a gutsy robbery, (but) it should have been more difficult to pull off than it was. There was no security guard with the money, and the vault was open.”
— San Diego police Lt. Chuck Ellis, describing the theft of $300,000 in concession stand revenue by three armed robbers hours after the Chargers-Raiders game. The crime has never been solved.
SNAPPY ANSWERS TO STUPID QUESTIONS
“No, I dream about girls.”
— Dallas Cowboys safety Dextor Clinkscale, asked whether he ever dreamed the Dallas Cowboys would give up 44 and 50 points in the same season.
PLEASE DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINKS
“I saw the bone sticking out. It was an ugly scene. I don’t want to think about it. I do not want to see the films. I know I go into games wanting to hit the quarterback, but when I looked down I saw blood.”
— New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, whose sack led to Joe Theismann’s career-ending injury.
“We got more revealing pictures from the reverse angle. I don’t know why the other networks don’t use it.”
— Monday Night Football director Chet Forte, who replayed the tackle about a dozen times for a nauseated national audience.
“I felt bad about him breaking his leg, but for the first time in 16½ years, I know where he is and who he’s with.”
— Shari Theismann, Joe’s ex-wife.
“We’re sorry you’ve left. We need more interceptions.”
— Get-well telegram sent to Theismann by the Dallas Cowboys secondary.
I AM THE SON AND THE HEIR OF NOTHING IN PARTICULAR
“Mr. Benson is an honest man, and he said he’ll give me consideration. Realistically, from a business standpoint, I have very little chance.”
— New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who took over as interim head coach after his father Bum suddenly resigned with four games left in the season.
CORRELATION ISN’T NECESSARILY CAUSATION
“Who’s to say that [snowball] actually caused the thing? Maybe I had brainlock on fourth-and-1 [when the Broncos tried for a touchdown instead of a field goal] but you can’t give me another chance.”
— Unsympathetic Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves, downplaying the San Francisco 49ers’ complaints that a snowball thrown from the crowd caused holder Matt Cavanaugh to bobble a second-quarter field goal snap. The 49ers lost by one point, 17-16.
STILL TO COME: WALTER PAYTON’S PROMO SINGLE FOR KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN
“Ten of the Chicago Bears will release a record on December 10 called ‘Super Bowl Shuffle.’ It’s the seventh Chicago Bears-related record released in Chicago in the past two months.”
— Notes column, Miami News, November 28.
CONCUSSION PROTOCOL, 1985
“If I learned anything, I learned to get out of bounds quicker.”
–Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple, dehelmeted on a scramble against the Buccaneers. Hipple returned to the field for the next drive.
“We’re going to kick their butts. The Chicago Bears are in for the treat of their lives.”
— Miami Dolphins receiver Mark Duper, looking forward to taking on the 12-0 Chicago Bears. Mike Ditka had the quote printed and placed throughout the Chicago locker room.
“I wasn’t the only one who thought we were going to beat them. Everyone on this team knew we were going to win. I was the one who mouthed off.”
— Duper, after Miami’s 38-24 victory.
“Nobody wants to share immortality.”
— Recently retired guard Bob Kuechenberg, the last active member of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.
MEANWHILE, THE HOUSTON OILERS RETAINED A GENERAL MANAGER WHO HAD GONE 13-44 IN HIS FIRST FOUR SEASONS
“I’m ready to admit that hiring Hugh Campbell was the worst mistake of my professional career.”
— Houston Oilers general manager Ladd Herzeg, who fired the 8-22 coach with two games remaining.
“Winning is the bottom line. I’m sick and tired of being with this organization and having to tell people that I work for the Houston Oilers and that we are losers.”
— Herzeg, continuing.
ICH BIN DER GEIST DER STETS PUNKTGEWINNE
“It’s terribly bush by Jimmy Johnson. He’s up by 35 points and he’s throwing the football and he’s running reverses. Here we have a man who’s coaching his last game under tremendous duress, and to run up the score on him … I just do not believe this is what college football is all about.”
— CBS studio panelist Pat Haden, following a 58-7 University of Miami romp over Gerry Faust’s Notre Dame team.
“We played the second and third teams almost the entire fourth quarter. … Is it fair to put players who have had little playing time into a game and tell them to sit on the football? In baseball, if you’re ahead by five runs in the last couple of innings do you tell your players to strike out?”
— Johnson, whose team had blown a 31-0 halftime lead to Maryland the previous season.
“I can’t help it if they’re inept.”
— Anonymous Miami assistant coach. Faust, hired after an enormously successful high school coaching career, went 30-26-1 in five seasons at Notre Dame, never finishing better than 7-5.
THIS SEEMS A LITTLE LESS OVERWROUGHT NOW THAT WE KNOW THESE WERE THE TWO BEST TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE
“[Mike] Ditka’s father was a steelworker. But the common heritage he shares with [Joe] Walton is that both are sons of western Pennsylvania. Both have shaped football teams to reflect that upbringing; first-place teams, poured and cast in the image of their coaches, poured in the heat of the Beaver Valley.”
— Pat Summerall, introducing the Bears-Jets game.
THE PRE-TWITTER MEDIA LANDSCAPE
“I think they got more exposure than they wanted in the first place.”
— San Diego Chargers spokesman Rick Smith, explaining why offensive linemen Don Macek and Ed White were dropping their threatened invasion of privacy suit against the local NBC affiliate. Footage of Macek and White walking from the shower was inadvertently aired during other players’ postgame interviews.
IF HE’D SAID NORMAN, THEY WOULD HAVE LET HIM GO
“I came to see Boomer. I came to see Boomer.”
— Handcuffed fugitive, arrested by U.S. marshals before the Redskins-Bengals game. Invitations to a pregame brunch had been sent to 3,000 wanted persons, promising free tickets and a chance to win a trip to the Super Bowl; 100 showed up.
NOTE THAT THE ANNOUNCERS ACCURATELY CALLED THIS PLAY
“We’ve never run that play before and maybe we shouldn’t have run it then.”
— Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, who fumbled on a double reverse against the Redskins.
AARON, IS THIS TRUE?
“I’m convinced there’s a conspiracy against Ivy Leaguers in the NFL.”
— Minnesota Vikings tight end/Brown alumnus Steve Jordan, snubbed by Pro Bowl voters.
DON CORYELL’S TEAMS WEREN’T KNOWN FOR THEIR DEFENSES
“I beat my man and the safety, for some reason, wouldn’t move. He’d stay there. I’d stick the safety and run right past him. Once the ball got there, all I had to do was run with the ball. It seems like he wasn’t flying out of there.”
— Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Stephone Paige, who broke the single-game receiving mark with 309 yards in the season-ender against the Chargers. The Chiefs’ second-leading receiver had just 8 yards.
ST. LOUIS TOODLE-OO
“Peace? Nah, I’m not at peace. If you were me, would you be at peace?”
— St. Louis Cardinals head coach Jim Hanifan, interviewed after completing a 5-11 season. Unbeknownst to Hanifan, Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill had had the locks to the coaches’ offices changed at halftime; Hanifan and his entire staff were officially fired the next day.
AFTER A COUPLE MORE YEARS OF RETOOLING, THE UNSUCCESSFUL JOHN ROBINSON FOOTBALL FRANCHISE WAS RELAUNCHED AS TECMO BOWL
“I broke down 2½ hours of film the night before the game. They’ve got eight plays and they ran all eight of them: counter-trey-oh, counter-trey-oh the other way, trap one way, trap the other way, flip one way, flip the other way, and two dives.”
— Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Howie Long, one day after holding the crosstown Rams to six points. The Rams had claimed in the postgame that they were keeping the offense under wraps until the playoffs.
SAME AS IT EVER WAS
“It just doesn’t feel fair that you could be 11-5 and two weeks from now be watching a team that’s 8-8 play in the playoffs.”
— Denver Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson, whose team lost tiebreakers for each of the two AFC wild card berths.
“Everybody knew the rules at the beginning of the season.”
— Cleveland Browns head coach Marty Schottenheimer, whose .500 record was good enough to win the AFC Central and a first-round bye.
HOME PLAYOFF GAME CONFLICTS WOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM FOR THE JETS IN FUTURE SEASONS
“I’d just as soon get at it right away. When you make the playoffs, you are on a natural high. The sooner you get to play, the better.”
— Jets offensive tackle Marvin Powell, OK with the NFL moving the Jets-Patriots wild-card game up to Saturday afternoon to avoid a conflict with the Giants-49ers wild-card game set to be played in the same stadium. The excited Jets lost 26-14.
“Just because they lost doesn’t mean they had an off day. We kicked their butts and that’s all there is to it. We played awesome.”
— New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, after holding the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers to just a field goal in the wild-card game.
BATTLE OF THE BAD GMs
“I saw somebody swing at Howie [Long]. I didn’t know who the moron was, so I swung at him.”
— Los Angeles Raiders linebacker Matt Millen, who punched New England Patriots general manager Pat Sullivan in the face after their upset loss in the divisional round. Sullivan had been taunting Long throughout the game
“Oh, then it was a good hit.”
— Millen, after being told who he had punched.
LESSON NEVER LEARNED
“You need to loosen up the defense. That’s my philosophy, but that’s not the philosophy here. … The problem we had was we got up and tried to just make first downs.”
— Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, criticizing Marty Schottenheimer’s ball-control system after the Browns blew a 21-3 third-quarter lead to the Miami Dolphins in Schottenheimer’s playoff debut. Kosar threw just three times in the first 28 minutes of the second half.
THE WINTER WIND IS A BEAR
“The wind gusted just as I dropped the ball, and it blew right away from me. I’m not even sure I hit the ball. I just tried to go over and catch it and the next thing I knew he had scored the touchdown.”
— New York Giants punter Sean Landeta, whose whiffed kick was returned for the only score in the first half of the Bears-Giants divisional-round game.
THE WEIRDEST ONE-YEAR CAREER IN NFL HISTORY
“I don’t think it will have an effect on his confidence. If he has a bad game next week, it’ll have an effect on his confidence because he won’t get to play anymore.”
— Los Angeles Rams coach John Robinson on Dieter Brock’s caretaker quarterbacking in a divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys. Brock threw for just 50 yards; Eric Dickerson ran for a playoff-record 248.
“It’s too bad to see Dieter go through what he’s going through because I think he’s the finest person I’ve ever met. … It’s just too bad he had to end the season like this. He’s getting up there in years and it would have been nice if he could have made it to the Super Bowl.”
— Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Michael Young after Brock threw for just 66 yards in a shutout loss to the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game. Brock, a 34-year-old rookie who had spent 11 years in the Canadian Football League before getting an NFL shot, never played another game.
“It’s the only way to play defense. You’ve got to play reckless-abandon defense and go after people. Do that, and good things will happen.”
— New England Patriots safety Fred Marion, whose team forced a total of 16 turnovers in three road upsets in the AFC playoffs.
“I wouldn’t call it ‘mugging.’ That’s kind of related to crime. Fact of the matter, there are very many ballcarriers who are careless about how they hold the ball, and they’re sitting targets.”
— Prickly New England Patriots coach Raymond Berry, objecting to a reporter’s characterization of his team’s talent for stripping the ball.
DOWN IN DIXIE, ON A WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON
“I just wanted to show them where it hurts.”
— Jim McMahon, who mooned a helicopter flying over the Chicago Bears’ suburban New Orleans practice field. Earlier in the week, McMahon’s acupuncturist had been brought from Chicago to treat the quarterback’s bruised left buttock.
THEY’RE NOT MACHINES, THEY’RE MEN!
“We saw them getting off the bus and we thought they’d have an ‘S’ on their chest. They didn’t. They were limping the same way we were.”
— New England Patriots guard Ron Wooten, unawed after seeing the Chicago Bears players at Media Day.
“We got to feel like the team that plays the Globetrotters all the time.”
— Wooten, awed after New England’s 46-10 Super Bowl defeat.
VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM
“Tony, we want a change of scenery.”
— New England Patriots head coach Raymond Berry, while pulling starting quarterback Tony Eason midway through the second quarter of the Super Bowl. The Patriots lost 36 yards and a fumble in Eason’s 13 plays under center.
“I just want to thank Coach Ditka for giving me the opportunity to play on offense. I was overwhelmed. I thought I was going to block for Walter.”
— Chicago Bears defensive tackle running back William Perry, whose 1-yard touchdown run gave the Bears a 44-3 lead. Perry had been sacked on a second-and-goal passing play earlier in the game.
“[Walter] complements our offense. You can’t hand it to him every time.”
— Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka. Payton got seven red zone carries in the Super Bowl but failed to score.
“Yes, I was disappointed. I feel bad, but that’s the way it goes.”
“He’s the greatest anyway. He doesn’t need a Super Bowl touchdown to be the greatest.”
— Chicago Bears center Jay Hilgenberg.
VIEW FROM THE TOP
— Ad for Chicago-based United Airlines, Super Bowl week. Chicago Bears founder George Halas died in 1983.