The Week in Quotes
Football players (and coaches and front-office people) say the darndest things

1984: The Year In Quotes

Joe Montana
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Guest column by Jeremy Snyder

You can check out the newly released 1984 DVOA ratings and commentary here.

1984: THE NFL IN TROUBLE

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"I really think I've played through the Golden Age of football—when pro football was King Kong and where television ratings were at a point I don't think they'll ever reach again. ... I don't think professional football is going to be as we've always known it in the past—when you could throw any football game on television and just have people jam into a room to watch it. I think people have come to the point where they're opening their eyes and saying, 'Hey, there's an alternative.'"

—Former Chicago Bears safety Doug Plank, now playing for the USFL's Chicago Blitz.

"Since the merger agreement in 1966 only four teams had been sold, before this week. Sure, I prefer stability. I love people like the Maras, the Rooneys, and the Halases. But if you're looking for a trend here, I'm not sure you can find one. Clint Murchison had to sell the Cowboys because he's sick. Gene Klein [Chargers] said he wasn't enjoying being an owner anymore. And it appears that Edgar Kaiser sold the Broncos for a profit. That's not really a trend."

—NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Two NFL franchises changed hands during the winter meetings; several others were in flux.

"Rozelle needs to go to work and get out of the courtroom, get out of Congress, get off the tennis courts, get out of the race tracks, get out of his vendettas, and be the commissioner again for the league. I'm sure the National Football League has greatness in the future, even though the last five years have been a downer."

—Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis, one day after the Supreme Court ruled that the NFL could not block its franchises from relocating.

"Why should we move the draft up and get into bidding wars over some 10th-, 11th-, or 12th-round player who is not even going to make your team? ... We are going to lose our share of players, and I don't like that. But moving the draft is not going to stop that."

—San Diego Chargers owner Gene Klein. An estimated 30% to 40% of the top 100 players who would have been in the 1984 NFL draft signed with the USFL instead.

"The NFL is in a cycle. These things go up and down and I'm not inclined to view it as a long-term trend. Just as baseball slumped in the late '60s and early '70s, football is slumping now."

—National Economic Research Associates analyst Louis Guth.

IF I LISTENED TO YOUR LIES WOULD YOU STAY?

"There was a story that said Robert Irsay is in Arizona … I think everyone is very concerned over that. I am. I've told everyone that you told if you were going to move the team, ever going to move the team, you'd tell me personally."

—Baltimore mayor Donald Schaefer, greeting the Colts' owner at Baltimore-Washington Airport.

"Let me. We'll get this over real fast. I haven't been to Arizona."

—Irsay, who had flown in from neighboring Nevada soon after being unnerved by a television report about a scheduled meeting with Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt.

"We were hoping to get a handshake agreement Friday. ... It was bizarre—[Phoenix businessman] Tony [Nicoli] ordered the vans earlier in the week. They wanted to bring in the vans from other states. It was Irsay who wanted to leave in the middle of the night."

—Phoenix businessman Bill Shover.

"Irsay only used Phoenix like a prostitute. ... Believe me, you're better off without him."

—Johnny Unitas, visiting Arizona for an unrelated public relations function.

DESPERATE LIVING

"It looks to me like putting makeup on a corpse."

—Maryland state senator Howard Denis after emergency legislation was passed allowing the Colts to start games at the NFL-standard 1 p.m. rather that the Blue Law-required 2 p.m.. Other small concessions failed to satisfy Irsay.

JIMMY COUGAR

"Daddy called me up on the telephone.
'Son, is there anybody listenin'? Are you alone?
It's goin' down tonight around 9 p.m.
The trucks are on their way as soon as I say when.

"Well, the trucks pulled up to Baltimore.
The people 'round there didn't want us no more.
So we packed up our bags and drove out of town.
And 12 hours later we were Indy bound.

"Well, the Colts we had it tough a couple of years.
Just a lot of empty seats, lord there was no one to cheer.
But we heard about a place that had a big white dome.
And it didn't take long for us to find a new home.

"Hoosier Heartland, that's where we do roam.
Hoosier Heartland, getting' down in the Hoosier Dome.
Hoosier Heartland, and the Indy Colts have found their home."

Hoosier Heartland by the Ricky Rydell Review; lyrics and vocals by James Irsay.

HIS EMINENCE

"It's not your ball team, it's not their ball team. It's my family's ball team. I paid for it, and I worked for it."

—Robert Irsay, endearing himself to 20,000 at the Hoosier Dome in a welcome-to-Indianapolis ceremony.

1984: THE USFL IN TROUBLE

"What are you [expletive] [expletive] doing taking so long with this? If money is the problem, I'll show you money."

—Los Angeles Express owner J. William Oldenburg, whose front office was in the middle of negotiations with BYU quarterback Steve Young. Oldenburg then threw a wad of $100 bills at one of Young's representatives, "blurted ethnic slurs," and thrice shoved Young in the chest.

"I hope to fix up my car and take my girlfriend out to dinner for the first time in four years."

—Young, upon signing a record-setting "43-year, $40-million" contract with the Express.

"I don't know which league it hurt. In my opinion … they're on the road to self-destruction."

—Philadelphia Eagles owner Leonard Tose, familiar with the concept.

"The idea was to be reasonable. As commissioner, I don't like it. It worries me. I do not think it is in the best interest of professional football or the league, but what is to be done? These are wealthy businessmen seeking to build and sell a product and to compete."

—USFL Commissioner Chet Simmons.

"I have no intention of going bankrupt signing wealthy players. I have had the experience some of our owners have now. I have lost my $10 million."

—Tampa Bay Bandits owner John Bassett, who had signed former Miami Dolphins stars Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Paul Warfield to his World Football League team 10 years earlier only to see the WFL fold midway through its second season.

"We are willing to pay his market value. We are not willing to pay for his mistake of signing with the other league."

—Houston Oilers general manager Ladd Herzeg, refusing to buy out the USFL contract of dissatisfied Pittsburgh Maulers running back/reigning Heisman Trophy-winner Mike Rozier.

"I really feel like the NFL is just going to quietly take on about four or five teams—very exciting ballclubs—and then watch the rest of the league sort of fall by the wayside. And it might happen sooner than you might think."

—Young in a telephone interview with Chicago reporters. He walked back the statement the next day.

"What hurts the most is that we've built something far beyond anything even we ourselves expect. Yet TV ratings are down and there's no sign that sufficient revenue is going to be available as things exist right now. Frankly, I can't find a financial upside in our continuing to play in the spring. ... Something has to happen by next season. As we are now, I can't see the league surviving."

—Simmons. USFL payrolls had risen from $1.8 million per team in 1983 to $2.8 million in 1984; attendance went up only 9%.

TONGUE THROUGH CHEEK

"The whole thing is tongue-in-cheek. It's not like I've been putting billboards all over town saying that the Oakland Invaders are going to rape and pillage."

—Maurice Goldman, Oakland Invaders vice president of marketing, reacting to complaints by San Francisco Supervisor Nancy Walker that the team's "Listen. Or we'll break your face." billboards were too violent.

NONE OF THESE PROMOTIONS KEPT THE BREAKERS FROM MOVING TO PORTLAND IN 1985

"Sure, we get some tackle-arounds and center-eligibles, but most of the players have been legitimate. Some we've already had in our playbook. Many are flea-flickers of some sort."

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—New Orleans Breakers head coach Dick Coury, who used a different fan-submitted play every week. The winning fan also got two sideline passes and the chance to explain the play on TV.

"It looked like the first indoor blizzard. Looking up from down on the field, you couldn't even see the people in the stands for a few moments."

—Breakers publicity director Jack Galmiche, who staged a halftime contest in which the three most accurate of the 50,000 paper-airplane throwers in the upper deck would win new cars.

"The nice thing is that we don't even have to slaughter a chicken for this."

—WNOE-FM sports director Mary Foster, who hired a voodoo priest to perform "white magic" to remove the curse that had prevented both the Breakers and the Saints from ever winning a Monday Night Football game in the Superdome.

IN A WORLD MADE OF STEEL

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"The whole city hates my guts."

—Unpopular former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Cliff Stoudt, returning to Pittsburgh as a member of the USFL's Birmingham Stallions. Stoudt, one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in 1983, was pelted with iceballs, fruit, and at least three beer bottles during the game against the Maulers.

BOTTOMS UP

"Boris refused to speak, shook his head, turned around, took off his shorts and showed me his opinion of what had transpired."

Denver Post columnist Woody Paige, who had asked Oklahoma Outlaws punter Bob Boris about his performance in a game in which Boris had three sub-30-yard punts, was tackled in the backfield before getting off another, and fumbled away a snap in overtime to set up the game-losing field goal. Boris, who had successfully challenged the USFL's rule preventing undergraduates from being drafted, played a grand total of two games in the league.

YEAR-ROUND FOOTBALL

"Carl, July 21 was the day I reported to 49er camp LAST year."

—Philadelphia Stars nose guard Pete Kugler, not pleased when general manager Carl Peterson told the team that they would be playing an exhibition game in London the week after the season ended. Kugler wound up playing a remarkable 44 competitive football games in 50 weeks thanks to jumping to the USFL immediately after finishing a deep playoff run with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.

THE SOLID GOLD GAME

"We have had our share of questions about what happened. I think there was a general sense of disappointment among a lot of people that they missed the end of the game. Just by its very nature it took on the element of being an event as much as a football game."

—USFL spokesman Jim Byrne, unable to stop ABC affiliates across the south and east from switching to syndicated programming early in overtime of the Los Angeles Express-Michigan Panthers quarterfinal. The Express won an hour later, 3:33 into triple overtime of the longest game in American pro football history.

THE STARS MOVED TO MARYLAND A FEW MONTHS LATER

"Two things are no longer in doubt. That is, which team is the best team in the USFL and which team is the best team in Philadelphia. There is absolutely no doubt about either point."

—Philadelphia Stars owner Myles Tanenbaum after a dominant win in the USFL Championship Game put his team's two-season record at 35-6.

EVERYTHING DRAGS AND DRAGS

"Every time they gain a few yards, the whistle blows and play grinds to a halt. And the changing of squads seems interminable."

—Bill Courtnay, Londoner attending the Philadelphia Stars-Tampa Bay Bandits game at Wembley Stadium.

LOOKED FOR A JOB, AND THEN FOUND A JOB

"I'm heading into unbroken, unplowed land. I'm really excited about this new phase in the life of our family."

—Howard Schnellenberger, who in May left the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes to take a combined head coach/executive position with the USFL's Washington Federals, who were planning to move to Miami for the 1985 season under new ownership.

"I took this position with the idea of bringing springtime football to Miami. I'd rather say now that the franchise is not coming than go head-to-head in the fall with the Dolphins and Hurricanes. All three of us would have suffered."

—Schellenberger, who in August quit rather than go along with the USFL's newly announced plans to play football in the fall starting in the 1986 season. The would-be new owner also dropped his plans to buy the Federals, who eventually moved to Orlando instead.

GOING SOUTH

"I knew that when I didn't get drafted [in 1978], I'd be a free agent when I came back [to the NFL]. If I played well, I knew I could get a good contract. But with the USFL and the rise in salaries and the fact I'm a quarterback and there is competition among teams for this spot, things got a lot bigger than I could have ever imagined."

—Five-time Grey Cup-winner Warren Moon, becoming the NFL's highest-paid player upon signing a five-year, $6-million contract with the Houston Oilers.

AMATEUR SPORTS, PART 1

"The NCAA plays a critical role in the maintenance of a revered tradition of amateurism in college sports. There can be no question but that it needs ample latitude to play that role, or that the preservation of the student-athlete in higher education adds richness and diversity to intercollegiate athletics and is entirely consistent with the goals of the Sherman Act. But consistent with the Sherman Act, the role of the NCAA must be to preserve a tradition that might otherwise die; rules that restrict output are hardly consistent with this role."

—Majority Supreme Court opinion in NCAA v. Board of Regents, invalidating NCAA rules that restricted the number of times a specific college football team could appear on television in a single season.

"Freedom is always ragged. It's always more challenging than an absolutely controlled state. I can understand the nostalgia of those who yearn for a return to the closed market under the NCAA, but that's regrettable because the old system was blatantly illegal."

—William Banowsky, president of the University of Oklahoma, lead plaintiff in the suit.

A CAUSE TO SIT BEHIND

"I honestly felt that there needed to be something bizarre done to get the attention of this city, something monumental enough to show people a commitment."

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Kansas City resident Gary Rodriguez, who raised about $50,000 for the March of Dimes by sitting in each and every one of Arrowhead Stadium's 78,097 seats over an 11-day period.

THE OPPOSITE OF VICTORY

"Chuck went out to L.A. to talk about [hosting concerts at] the stadium. The next thing I knew, he was going for the whole banana. ... I could hardly believe it."

—Anonymous relative of Chuck Sullivan, New England Patriots vice president. Sullivan, inexperienced in such matters, became the promoter of the Jackson Family Victory Tour by guaranteeing the Jacksons a well-above-industry-standard share of ticket revenue and put the team's stadium up as collateral so that he could make a down payment.

"I'm shocked. In disbelief. I did not think the rejection was based on solid grounds."

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—Sullivan Stadium attorney Garrett Spillane Jr. after the Foxborough Board of Selectmen, citing vague security and traffic concerns, voted unanimously against allowing three Jacksons concerts in the town. The Victory Tour never came to New England.

"There is a split between the Jackson brothers. … Michael told Chuck that he felt bad that he went through all this anguish and trouble and was going to lose money."

—Source close to Sullivan. The six Jackson brothers made about $7 million apiece; Sullivan lost at least $13 million and the tour only finished as scheduled because the Jacksons took a reduced rate for the final few concerts.

"The stadium corporation is at risk on the Jackson Tour. Chuck is the only stockholder in the stadium corporation, and it owns the stadium. ... [But] saying that Michael Jackson or the Jackson Corporation or anything like that will be taking over the Patriots is the most utterly ridiculous and stupid thing I ever heard of. It's just ridiculous. It's unbelievable. And, you know, it's just part of the overall general thing of trying to destroy my family. I really resent it."

—Patriots owner Pat Sullivan, father of Chuck, denying reports that the franchise itself had been put up as collateral to finance the concerts.

THE DECEIVER

"In magic, you program the audience to look for something normal, then you do something abnormal. Football is the same way. You try to counter what your opponent is doing. He knows what you're supposed to do; you've set him up. Then, when he expects one thing, you do another."

—New Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche, an amateur magician in his free time.

A BAD SIGN FOR THE DOLPHINS DEFENSE

"I tried to grab him but I couldn't hold him."

—Miami Dolphins cornerback Don McNeal, who wound up in a car chase with a residential burglar after the crook broke free from his grasp.

IF ANYONE KNOWS ANYTHING MORE ABOUT 'ERIC DICKERSON AND PALS,' LET ME KNOW

"I still watch [cartoons]. ... I get amused by them. There's a little kid in all of us, and there's a little kid in me. I'm 23, and people would think I'm a rough-and-tumble football player, but that's not all there is to me."

—Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson, developing a show for Saturday morning television.

ЗЕЛЕНЫЙ БЕЙ НАРОДНАЯ РЕСПУБЛИКА

"It's a loss. But how much of a loss would you have in football if the Green Bay Packers pulled out? You'd still have a league. They're a team with a lot of tradition and past success, but you still have 27 other teams, and that's the way the Olympics will be."

—United States track & field honcho Pete Cava, not worried about the Soviet Union boycott of the upcoming Los Angeles Olympics.

MONDAY WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

"I'll work what I want to work. I got it down to what I wanted. When a man gets into his mid-60s, it's time to cut back. ... Monday Night Football will do fine without me."

—Howard Cosell, finished with football broadcasting after 14 seasons.

MERCY IS FOR THE WEAK

"He must have brittle hands. I've hit a lot of guys on the helmet, and I've never hurt my hand."

—Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Kush, joking about quarterback Mark Herrmann's broken thumb. Kush had been fired and sued for physically abusing players at Arizona State.

AMATEUR SPORTS, PART 2

"Football's really on his mind, isn't it?"

—Chicaco Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, unhappy that wide receiver Willie Gault had been given time off from training camp to attend the Olympics. Sprinter Gault and hurdler/49ers receiver Renaldo Nehemiah had repeatedly been denied permission by the IAAF to compete as amateurs because they competed in a professional sport that supposedly enhanced their performance in track and field.

"This will not cost me in dollars and cents. The Rams are not going to pay me for medals. They're going to pay me to play football."

—Soon-to-be-Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Ron Brown, the fourth-place finisher in the 100-meter dash. Brown, who had postponed joining the NFL for a year so that he could retain his amateur status, would soon win gold in the team relay.

MAYBE COOK IT FIRST?

"If you ask how do you eat an elephant, you got to do it one bite at a time. We've just taken about two bites out of its hide so far and we've got a big elephant still standing in front of us."

—Houston Oilers defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville, facing a huge rebuilding job.

BEST DEFENSE

"The verdict has been decided and it's still not the truth. When the jury went in, I just knew I was going to be found innocent. ... They clearly have made a mistake."

—New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, convicted on one count of assault (and acquitted on five others) for his role in a brawl at Studio 54 the year before in what would be the longest misdemeanor trial in New York history. Gastineau would be sentenced to 90 hours of community service teaching football to young inmates at Rikers Island.

"I can't believe it. I know what the truth is. He wouldn't have been here in the first place if he weren't Mark Gastineau."

—Jets second-year quarterback Ken O'Brien, a co-defendant, found not guilty on all charges.

"I didn't feel any more time should be wasted by testifying. Kenny O'Brien had already lost four weeks of practice time."

—Gastineau, who unlike O'Brien never took the stand in his own defense. The Jets had traded away starting quarterback Richard Todd, opening up the position for O'Brien, but gave the job to backup Pat Ryan after the trial forced O'Brien to miss most of training camp.

THE WINNING TEAM DID

"There was a lot of emotion at the Alamo, and nobody survived."

—New England Patriots coach Ron Meyer, no fan of pregame pep talks.

NOT QUITE

"We're not moving to Stockton, are we?"

—San Diego Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow, joking about the sale of the team to non-San Diego resident Alex Spanos.

LEARNED HIS LESSON WELL

"Gentlemen, when you're 3-12-1, things are going to change. I don't have any formula for success, but I do have one for failure: trying to please everybody."

—Second-year New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells, defending himself against Lawrence Taylor's criticism that the team was getting rid of veteran leaders.

CONSERVATIVE LEAGUE BANS DANCING

"The rules say that we're allowed only spontaneous reactions and spikes. I'm sure we can test that. I'm working on this moonwalk right now."

—Houston Oilers wide receiver Butch Johnson, whose California Quake was one of many previously allowed celebrations that would now draw a 5-yard penalty.

"After I sack the quarterback, I draw back one fist, take a step forward, then shoot my arm in the air in a martial arts stance. Then—freeze frame—I don't move. That's the end of it. And there's not a thing they can do about it."

—New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, who did this 22 times in 1984.

HEARTBREAK OVERLOAD

"It's like being hit in the head with a hammer."

—Hurst "Loudy" Loudenslager, one of four Baltimore fans to show up to a padlocked Memorial Stadium on Kickoff Weekend.

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—Effigy brought north from Baltimore for the Philadelphia Eagles-Indianapolis Colts game a few weeks later.

IS HIS SIZE UP THERE?

"It made me glad I'm going to heaven."

—300-pound San Francisco 49ers tackle Bubba Paris, who struggled through a hot September afternoon in the non-air conditioned Pontiac (Michigan) Silverdome.

AMATEUR SPORTS, PART 3

"I have no interest whatsoever in being involved in college coaching again—in any way, shape, or form. They can have college football and all of its [expletive]."

—Florida Gators head coach Charley Pell, fired three games into the season after his program was charged with 107 NCAA rules violations ranging from spying on other teams' practices to paying recruits.

TURNED AROUND AND GUIDED RIGHT

"I don't think his attitude is a problem anymore."

—North Fort Myers High School football coach Ron Hoover on quarterback/defensive back Deion Sanders, who had been automatically kicked off the team late the previous season when he was suspended from school.

"If you want to see Deion, you'd better see us on a weekday."

—North Fort Myers basketball coach Levon Simms, whose star guard was off on recruiting trips on weekends.

"Whatever goals Deion sets for himself he can attain. The opportunity is there. It's just a question of what his goals area, and of him applying himself to a different level."

—North Fort Myers baseball coach Ted Ferreira.

"He's the best athlete that's come out of this area in 26 years. You notice that I didn't say 'the best football player' or 'the best basketball player' or 'the best baseball player.' He's simply the best pure athlete to come out of here."

—Hoover. Sanders was named to the All-Southwest Florida teams in all three sports.

S-S-S, A-A-A, F-F-F…

"I assume this wasn't one of the Giants' better games."

—Los Angeles Rams head coach John Robinson, whose team racked up an NFL-record three safeties, all in the third quarter, in a 33-12 win.

DIVER DOWN

"Some of the theatrics kickers go through are just unprofessional."

—Miami Dolphins coach/competition committee member Don Shula, who successfully proposed a rule in the offseason that made flopping to draw a roughing the kicker penalty unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I heard Max [Runager] ask the referee, Ben Dreith, 'What did I do?' And he told him, 'Nobody was near you, and you dropped like a Mack truck hit you.'"

—San Francisco 49ers guard Randy Cross, after the one and only punter flopping penalty in league history was assessed in Week 4.

AFC CENTRAL REIGN

"Our division is embarrassing. That may sound bad, but it's the truth. What else can you say about it? The only good thing is that we're in first place."

—Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback David Woodley, whose new team was 3-2, enough to lead the division by two games.

"I have the solution. We'll join the AFC Central."

—New York Giants linebacker Robbie Jones, finding something better than figuring out tiebreaker scenarios for the final NFC wild-card slot.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

"When Joe first moved in with us, he was so shy he didn't even speak to me for two weeks, unless I said something first. I was cooking for him and doing his laundry, and he was embarrassed that I was handling his underwear."

—Ashley Clark, who along with husband/San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight took in Joe Montana as a houseguest after Montana's divorce.

INDIANAPOLIS LOST 35-7

"It was a terrible break for Baltimore. It was a great call by Coach Kush, and it would have been a big difference in the game."

—Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, doubly confused by a holding call that erased an 85-yard Colts touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 from their own 15 early in the first quarter.

FOR SOME IDEA OF HOW LONG AGO 1984 REALLY WAS

"You gave me the answer. ... You're playing Jeopardy! They used to have a game show."

CBS play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton, mocking color man Hank Stram after Stram accidentally reversed the order of what was intended to be a player comparison question. The Alex Trebek reboot had actually premiered a month earlier.

REMEMBER THE FIVE YEARS

"When I scored, I wanted to say, 'Hey this is for [Ron].' It wasn't in a negative sense, but a positive sense. The players here didn't get to know Ron Meyer like I know him. A lot of them said he wasn't personable, and that's so unlike him."

—New England Patriots running back Craig James, dedicating his first NFL touchdown to the just-fired man who had coached him at both SMU and New England.

THE PATRON SAINT OF MEDIOCRITIES

"My father once told me, 'Son, you have deceptive speed. You're slower than you look.'"

—New Orleans Saints fullback Hokie Gajan, who nonetheless averaged 6.0 yards per carry on the season.

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD TIME

"This whole experience has been like telling a girl you're in love with that you don't want to marry her. Everything has been so perfect here. I really thought for a long time that I'd be with this team forever. So how do you tell that girl that as much as you still love her, you've just got to be moving on?"

—Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, wavering about his future commitment to the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits.

DOCTORS DETROIT

"I said: 'Wow.' I thought I was really bad. ... I thought sure I had torn something."

—Detroit Lions career rushing yards leader Billy Sims, who was told by team doctors after suffering an knee injury Week 8 that it was merely a sprain and that he just needed to rest for "two or three days." Sims, who underwent surgery the next day after the true damage was discovered, never played again.

THE BEST REMAINING FOOTBALL TEAM IN BALTIMORE

"I said to him, 'What happened?' and he just shook his head. It was just instinct, I guess."

—Morgan State Bears head coach James Phillips, who watched assistant coach Darrell Coulter leave the sidelines to tackle a Connecticut player making a breakaway run. Connecticut was awarded a touchdown on the play.

HE'S ALL RIGHT

"I don't coach their football team and I don't know what they've got. It's hard enough for a guy that's coaching a football team to answer that question, much less a guy that only looks at them two times. ... I've got a helluva time trying to decide what we are going to do here, and I'm here every day. "

—New Orleans Saints head coach Bum Phillips, balking at a question about whether the Oilers, Phillips' former team, were using Earl Campbell properly.

"What are you gonna do with a No. 1 draft choice for the next 10 weeks? Sit on it and wait till the draft. Then you're gonna draft a guy and maybe you'll get him signed and maybe he goes to the other league or he wants so doggone much you can't afford to give it without messing up your whole salary structure on your whole team, so you're losing your first-round draft choice. I'd rather have a football player."

—Phillips, justifying trading for Campbell two weeks later after Campbell's fifth straight sub-3-yards-per-carry game.

INCOMPARABLE

"What can you say that hasn't already been said? How do you differentiate between sharp, sharper, and sharpest?"

—Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula, speechless after quarterback Dan Marino broke the franchise record for passing yards in a single game. Marino would go on to set NFL single-season records for completions, passing yards, and touchdown passes.

THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF THEIR LIVES

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"No matter where we were, he and I always seemed to be 10 yards apart."

—Hamilton College [N.Y.] senior Mark Isaf, part of a three-man chain crew that dressed up in flamboyant costumes for every home game.

THOUGHTS ON O.J. MAY HAVE CHANGED BY 2004

"How did I feel? Relieved."

—Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, who finally broke the career rushing yards record after years of anticipation.

"I'm holding out for a card on Trivial Pursuit. My agent and I are willing to negotiate."

—New Orleans Saints linebacker Jim Kovach, who tackled Payton on the record-breaking play.

"I think the greatest runner ever may have been Gale Sayers, but he didn't have great stats, so all this ranking stuff doesn't really matter to me. All the great runners can leave us with, anyway, are memories. Twenty years from now, when I think of Walter Payton, I'll feel good. And nobody can change that."

—O.J. Simpson, Howard Cosell's replacement in the Monday Night Football booth.

RED RIGHT '84

"You can look at a lot of things in the game. But I want you all to know that, in the final analysis, it was my decision. Very frankly, it was the wrong decision. You can put the hat right on me. With 20 seconds left, the idea is to kick the field goal and we would have won the game."

—Cleveland Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano, who opted for a pass from the Patriots' 21 trailing 17-16 with 23 seconds left and no timeouts. The pass was intercepted.

"Obvious it was inexcusable. What happened in the final seconds absolutely defies comprehension, but I don't feel any worse than he does. There is no explanation whatsoever for what happened, but this is no time to push the panic button."

—Browns owner Art Modell. Rutigliano was fired two games later with the team at 1-7.

WITHOUT FEATHERS

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—Freddie Falcon, losing hope midway through a 4-12 season.

MY DINNER WITH SAM

"We had dinner last night with Sam Wyche and he told us the reason James Brooks hasn't done well this season is that he hasn't learned the offense."

—NBC color commentator Reggie Rucker, broadcasting the Week 8 Bengals-Browns game. Rucker later added that Wyche said that Wyche had overestimated the talent on the Bengals roster.

"Reggie Rucker is a blatant liar. He said I had dinner with him Saturday night. He said that twice. I don't know Reggie Rucker at all. I've spoken to him maybe twice in my life."

—Wyche, who had taped the broadcast at home and watched it that night. One of those two conversations was a brief interview in pregame during which Wyche said things vaguely similar to what Rucker had said he said.

"No, I did not have dinner with Sam Wyche. I apologize with Sam Wyche and the Bengals for what we call a shtick or cachet … a lot of announcers consider it fashionably apropos to make a statement like that, a la Cosell."

—Rucker, two days later.

THERE'S A JOKE HERE SOMEWHERE

"I sold out four buses for the Jets game, and I'm sending three buses to the game against Dallas. But I couldn't get any takers for Cleveland."

—Rochester travel agent Martha Rogers, compelled to offer a money-back guarantee on tickets and round-trip bus fare to and from Buffalo if the 0-9 Bills lost to the 1-8 Browns. The $25 packages then sold out in two days.

"I may do this again next year. I'm a Bills fan. I won't give up."

—Rogers, out $1,100 after the Browns won 13-10.

"Like us, they've come close to winning games but just lack that little spark, perhaps that lucky break that victorious teams unveil at just the right moments."

—New Browns coach Marty Schottenheimer, who got his first career victory.

THE FORTUNATE ONES

"We were lucky to win the toss, and we wanted to kick off to take advantage of the weather conditions."

—Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves, whose defense returned fumbles for touchdowns on each of the first two plays from scrimmage on a snowy October evening against the Packers.

"As long as it keeps happening, it's not spooky. When it stops happening, that's when it'll be spooky."

—Broncos defensive end Barney Chavous on the supposed "Orange Magic" behind the team's 9-1 record.

"This team is going to make me old before my time. I really can't handle all these close games. … We're getting a lot of practice at winning close games, at winning games in the final seconds. One of these days, the clock is going to run out on us."

—Dan Reeves, after yet another escape.

"Rich Karlis doesn't eat here."

—Sign outside Denver-area restaurant Smith and Jones the day after the Broncos kicker hit the right upright on a last-minute 25-yarder that would have tied the score against the Seahawks. The sign was changed to "Rich Karlis doesn't eat here, but we wish he did" after an outcry.

"Obviously, this is not something that I want to be famous for."

—Karlis, who doinked another last-minute game-tying field goal the next week, moving the Broncos out of first place.

OUT IN THE COLD

"I've supported the Hawks through all their bad years. Now they win a few games, and they think they're too good for us."

—Ron Calkins, one of several hundred fans waiting at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to greet the Seahawks after an upset win at Denver, only to be disappointed when the team chose to go directly from the plane to a waiting bus. (In a seemingly unrelated move, the Seahawks retired the No. 12 jersey in their fans' honor a couple of weeks later.)

POSTER CHILDREN FOR ADVERSITY

"This has been especially hard on my boys. When I got home after the Bears game, they couldn't do enough for me—propping up pillows, making me comfortable. Cooper's fifth-grade football team was 5-0 this year; Peyton, who's eight, was the MVP of his New Orleans Little League team. We have man-to-man talks at bedtime. They ask why I'm not playing, and I tell them that everybody ought to sit on the bench after a while, that we become better people through struggles."

—Minnesota Vikings quarterback Archie Manning, benched after being sacked 11 times in his first start.

THREE OF THESE GUYS MADE THE HALL OF FAME

Image 9

"I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I wish it were brighter."

—Hugh Campbell, head coach of the 0-10 Houston Oilers.

THE CARROLL COUNTY INCIDENT

"I wouldn't rat, so I got benched."

—Mike Stull, one of 30 Westminster [Md.] High football players driven to state police headquarters and given a breathalyzer test after the coach found a spiked Coke can on the team bus after a game.

PAINTING THE NFL RED

"I've never seen a football game. Every now and then, I watch news and see clips of it. It is a violent sport. I don't understand how people play it."

—Rajneeshee cult spokeswoman Ma Anand Sheela, asked to pick football winners for the Salem [Ore.] Statesman-Journal. Sheela, picking by intutition, went 5-5 for the week, beating two experts on the panel.

TOO BOLD: THE LES STECKEL STORY

"I've been asked many times about my leadership qualities. I always mention the subject of being in Vietnam and having 250 soldiers under me in combat. As long as nobody is shooting at us, I think I can handle the situation pretty well."

—New Minnesota Vikings head coach Les Steckel at his inaugural press conference.

"The Marine Corps taught me discipline. I thrive on discipline. The Marine Corps teaches you how far you can expand. It seems like they're going to break you, but they never do. They don't break you, but they never do, they build you and Christian faith teaches you to grow through adversity. ... I know I'll be confronted by some, challenged by players. But players who don't accept will be gone."

—Steckel, before mini-camp.

"When I was in Vietnam and the colonel told us to take the hill, we'd lose some guys. But, by God, we'd take the hill. That's what we have to do now. We have to exercise resiliency and bounce back and keep moving."

—Steckel, after first-round draft pick Keith Millard signed with the USFL's Jacksonville Bulls rather than take the Vikings' lower salary offer.

"In a combat situation, you could be in the middle of the river. You don't change your game plan. If we start off 6-0 or 0-6, we won't change our philosophy. The people in this world who are wishy-washy are the ones who, as soon as something goes wrong, make excuses. ... You want to tell me that's a winner?"

—Steckel, after trade acquisition Brad Van Pelt refused to report to the Vikings. Van Pelt held out for 10 weeks before being traded to the Raiders.

"We'll still work hard. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. I don't think any of them are serious. They'll all be back."

Image 10

—Steckel after one in eight Vikings got injured in the first week of training camp, which included a toughman contest.

"Can you tell if somebody has a good attitude or bad attitude without them saying a word? I can. I can sense when they have an attitude."

—Steckel, cutting starting wide receiver Terry LeCount after two games.

"It's very difficult when you're a perfectionist and it just doesn't go exactly right. That's really tough."

—Steckel, 2-5 with four relatively close losses.

"The public takes it that he loves war. Nobody in their right mind loves war."

—Chris Steckel, the coach's wife, who finally convinced him to stop comparing football to Vietnam.

"I think he is treading a thin line. I didn't have to read the contract. I knew that if they were asked to take a drug test, they didn't have to."

—Vikings tight end/player representative Steve Jordan, complaining about surprise urine checks.

"You quit, didn't you?"

—Steckel, dressing down Sammy White and Ted Brown, out with injury against the Redskins and who left the Metrodome early with the Vikings down 31-0. White and Brown argued that they didn't know leaving was against the rules, since Bud Grant had never required his injured players to show up at games.

"Forgiveness is a virtue. They have been forgiven. Excused? No."

—Steckel, who rescinded his original demand for both players to be put on injured reserve but did fine them.

"To sell them inside the Metrodome, I need the Vikings' and the stadium commission's permission, and I don't think that's really likely."

—Season ticket holder Wayne Kovensky, who was selling "Less Steckel" bumper stickers for $2 apiece.

"Essentially we asked for Les Steckel's resignation. He refused to resign. Consequently, we terminated Les and his staff. On evaluating our head coach, we just didn't feel that under Les and his program [that] the Vikings would succeed in 1985."

—Vikings general manager Mike Lynn, shortly after the team finished 3-13, the worst season in franchise history.

"He tried to run a professional team with a high school attitude. He alienated a lot of people, and it was getting pretty ugly around here."

—Vikings linebacker Scott Studwell, rejoicing in Steckel's firing.

WOOF

"Obviously, losing to a team that's 0-10 is pretty demoralizing. It was pretty bad last week, but my dog will still be nice to me. I don't know about my wife."

—Kansas City Chiefs center Bob Rush, on the other side of the first Oilers road win since 1981.

NOT WELCOME IN EACH OTHERS' LIVES

"This team does not like the Pittsburgh Steelers, no question about it. And I've grown in one short part of a season to share those sentiments."

—Cincinnati Bengals coach Sam Wyche, snubbed by Chuck Noll for the traditional postgame handshake after upsetting the Steelers.

"Everybody always seems interested in knowing where you pick things like that up, and that's where I learned that one."

—Noll, crediting Bengals general manager Paul Brown as the non-handshake pioneer.

A GRAND LOSS

"I can't play for a 7-5 team that has no [expletive] heart. I don't care if I get fined [for saying so], but I can't."

—Dallas Cowboys safety Dennis Thurman, defeated by the previously winless Bills. Tom Landry had previously warned his players that any public criticism of teammates or coaches would cost them $1,000.

IT'S TRUE

"The way we played defense, my sister could have thrown against us and been successful."

—Miami Dolphins safety Lyle Blackwood, unable to stop a 10-minute Chargers touchdown drive in the fourth quarter or a subsequent drive after the Chargers won the overtime coin toss. Dan Marino had driven the Dolphins for the potential winning field goal in the 44 seconds they had the ball in between, but Uwe von Schamann's kick was wide left.

"The snap may have been a little high. Ah, I have no excuse. I should've made the kick. I really don't want to talk."

—von Schamann, who missed more kicks than he made during the regular season.

"There won't be any more comparisons now. I guess we won't have to worry about that anymore."

—Don Shula, coach of both the 17-0 1972 Dolphins and the now-11-1 1984 squad.

"To be honest with you, I'd like to have seen them go 18-0-1. They say records are made to be broken, but this one, I'd like to be part of as long as I can. I still have some friends on the team and I'd like to see them do well. But certainly I'd like to see my record stand."

—Jim Kiick, 1972 Dolphins running back.

SUNDAY IN THE PARK

"Somewhere [George Halas] is smiling. It's the greatest feeling I've ever had."

—Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka, clinching his team's first division title since 1963.

GIVE HIM INCHES

"He's an ideal Canadian League quarterback. I think he'd have a tough time in the NFL simply because the guys in the NFL are a lot bigger than they are in college—every week."

—Former New York Giants/current Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Ray Perkins on Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie, third in the 1983 Heisman Trophy voting.

"College teams don't want a 5-foot-9 quarterback, either. I'd get these little cards back saying, 'Very good athlete but does not project as major-college athlete.' It was frustrating. You can't work on your height."

—Flutie, who may not have gotten a Division I scholarship had he not gone to high school 25 minutes from the Boston College campus.

"All I was thinking was, [Miami] played well, they deserve it, let's give it one more shot. All we have to do is get the ball to midfield. Then we're in range to just throw it into the end zone."

—Flutie, whose Boston College team had just given up the go-ahead touchdown to Miami with 28 seconds left in a nationally televised post-Thanksgiving game.

"I didn't think Miami thought he could throw that far because their free safety was on the 3-yard line when I went by him. The idea is for Doug to scramble around until we reach the end zone. As soon as I looked back I saw the ball leave his hand. I saw it all the way, a perfect spiral that came down like a rocket. I just hoped it was long enough because I couldn't go back and get it. We needed the touchdown so I had to stay in the end zone. I caught it up in my shoulder pad and I thought, 'I'll be one sad kid if this ball slips away.' So I held it like it was my first-born. Then I fell down and everybody jumped on top of me and I thought I was dead but I said to myself, 'What a way to go!'"

—Gerald Phelan, who caught the Hail Mary that gave Boston College a 47-45 win. Flutie threw for 472 yards in the game; Miami's Bernie Kosar threw for 447.

"They talk about Flutie being a Heisman Trophy candidate. He's got my vote."

—Miami guard Willie Lee Broughton. Flutie won easily.

"I've never walked away from anything in my life. But I made up my mind that if we beat Boston College 100-0 or lost 100-0, that was it. I made the decision and that's it."

—Miami defensive coordinator Bill Trout, who resigned after the game. Two weeks earlier, Trout's defense had blown a 31-0 halftime lead to Maryland.

THE BEST SOLUTION FOR THE BEARS QUARTERBACK PROBLEM IS NONE AT ALL

"I know it might sound silly, but that's what I thought about."

—Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka, dreaming about putting Walter Payton at quarterback after losing Jim McMahon to injury early in the season.

"It was OK. But I wouldn't want to do it for a living."

—Payton, given two drives at quarterback 10 weeks later after the Bears were down to fourth-stringer Rusty Lisch.

"Boring as it might look, the best thing we do is run the football. We are going to have to rely heavily on our defense and play ball control."

—Ditka, planning for the playoffs.

ODYSSEY AND ORACLE

"I'm discouraged. Bum kept saying this was going to be our year."

—New Orleans Saints owner John Mecom, late in his franchise's 18th straight non-winning season, disappointed by the confidence of head coach Bum Phillips. Mecom would soon sell the team .

TECHNICALLY, THIS ISN'T AN ANACHRONISM

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—Marty Schottenheimer, scolding Browns defenders Hanford Dixon and Al Gross for taunting concussed Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth.

WOULDN'T IT BE GOOD TO BE IN HIS SHOES?

"We said we were going to get [the record] in San Francisco, that was the idea to get it on national television. But we'd had some big runs and everybody was shooting off their mouth and making my offensive line mad. So after we got that last touchdown, they came to me on the sidelines and said: 'We need 5 yards, just 5 yards. Let's get it today.'"

—Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson, whose 215 rushing yards against the Oilers gave him 2,007 on the year, breaking O.J. Simpson's single-season record.

"Walter got a Lamborgini. They gave me a $60 cake. A carrot cake. I don't even like carrot cake.'"

—Dickerson, displeased that Adidas, his sneaker sponsor, rewarded him with far less than Walter Payton's did for breaking the career rushing record.

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HEY JOE

"Theismann is a good quarterback, but he's nothing but a damn hot dog. He's a hot dog and a showboat, and I hate him. Instead of ending the game the way he was supposed to end the game, he ran around like the little bleep that he is."

—Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy White, angry at the Redskins quarterback backstepping to run off extra seconds rather than immediately kneeling. The game ended with a brawl when Ron Fellows hit Theismann after he was already down.

"[Theismann's] got absolutely no class. It's no wonder that nobody on his own team likes him."

—Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle John Dutton. The Week 15 loss led to the Cowboys missing the playoffs for the first time since 1974.

"He was mad about the way the game was going and wanted the television turned off. He then initiated a pushing match with an elderly couple at their home when he did not get his way."

—Dallas homicide investigator P.E. Jones on the death of 73-year-old Ernest Faulkner, shot in the stomach with a "frontier model single-action revolver" by his 78-year-old roommate after the game ended.

SAY IT ISN'T SO

"I have a very reliable source who says that that is going to happen. I'll be very surprised if the move doesn't take place."

—Arizona senator Dennis DeConcini, boasting inside knowledge of an Eagles move to Phoenix.

"Leonard Tose is considering a move to Phoenix, but nothing has been signed and no decision has been made."

—Statement from the Eagles, five days before final game of the regular season.

"People are swearing, screaming, everything. We could lose up to 15% of our customers if we can't get the word out that we have nothing to do with Leonard Tose."

—Bill Babb, terminal manager for Tose-Fowler Trucking, a company Tose had sold two years earlier.

"Leonard and I didn't get along because he was losing all my best customers. Now he's doing it again. We don't know what the heck to do. ... We support the Eagles."

—Bill Fowler, Tose-Fowler executive vice president.

"I'm completely happy with what the league did today. We're going to stay in Philadelphia."

—Tose, five days later. The NFL, which had immediately filed a lawsuit when the story broke, had come up with a bailout package for the heavily indebted owner.

"If the leak hadn't occurred … I would have had a football team in Phoenix after the [Week 16] game. It probably would have been like the Baltimore thing."

—Phoenix businessman James Monaghan, left at the altar.

"That s.o.b. I'm furious. I'm disappointed. I'm mad as hell. He used somebody before, and he used me this time. I'm completely appalled. I'm totally devastated. Nine months of hard work have gone down the drain."

—Monaghan, continuing.

"I'd much rather get the Philadelphia Dance Company here. I'd rather see that energy going into the arts."

—Amy Sabel, director of the Tempe, Arizona, Center for Body Awareness.

FLORIDA FLOP 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO

"They were throwing statistics at me. Wilder needs this, Wilder needs that. Our players wanted it so badly. This would be the last time that I, as coach, could do anything for them. Our fans wanted it. Nobody was leaving the stadium. They all knew the situation. I went with the people who mean the most to me."

—Retiring Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay, who, while winning big in the last game of the season, ordered an onside kick and then, once that failed, instructed his defense to let the Jets score so that running back James Wilder would have a chance to break the single-season yards from scrimmage record.

"What are you doing?!"

—Buccaneers defensive coordinator Wayne Fontes, screaming at Mark Cotney, who had made a tackle at the Tampa 2.

"At first we considered having everyone blitz and leaving someone free for a touchdown pass. But that was changed because that might embarrass somebody. So we decided just to play it soft. Fontes said to make it look inconspicuous."

—Tampa Bay linebacker Scott Brantley. The Jets walked in for a touchdown on the next play.

"I think it was a total embarrassment for the National Football League."

—New York Jets coach Joe Walton, whose own onside kick failed.

"They thought we'd just lie down and let him get the record. But we didn't, and I guess that gives us a little satisfaction."

—Jets defensive back Russell Carter. Wilder ran for 2, -2, and 0 yards on the final three plays, falling 16 yards short of the record.

"I leave as I came, a controversial man."

—McKay, the only head coach the Tampa Bay franchise had ever known.

"It was no worse than the butt-kicking we suffered on the field. We never should have let them get us into that situation. They were just doing what was right for their man. We just got in the way of it."

—Jets wide receiver Johnny "Lam" Jones, hit by a chair thrown from the Tampa stands in the ugly aftermath.

ANOTHER MARYLAND BUS HIJACKING

"We were going about 80 mph and all of the sudden there were two sheriffs' cars set up in a roadblock, and the guy driving the pickup spun around in a U-turn. Then the police cars were chasing us with sirens going and the guys in the truck were shooting at them and we turned off into this dirt road in the middle of nowhere. ... I guess I was kind of panicking. When the guy put the gun to my head, I froze up. I was just concentrating on what he told me to do. Coach Romaine and I were both pretty quiet there in the back of the truck."

— Maryland Terrapins player Donald Brown, forced off the team bus by cosplaying banditos as part of a "hilarious" prank by the Sun Bowl committee.

"I thought it was kind of humorous to see our kids scatter like they did. It really brought out a lot of laughter."

—Maryland coach Bobby Ross, the only one on the bus in on the prank.

THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY USED TO BE

"Thirteen points should not beat you. Seattle's defense just killed our offense all day long. ... Their ground game took complete control of the game. Our offense didn't do enough. Hell, our offense didn't do anything."

—Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado, whose team ended on the losing side of the AFC wild-card game despite only allowing 46 net passing yards.

HOLIDAY ROAD TRIP

"This feels like all the Christmas mornings put together. That's why we play this game; this is what it's all about. It's masochistic otherwise."

—New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells, spending Christmas in Fresno instead of having the Giants return home in between a wild-card win at the Rams and a divisional game in San Francisco.

THE HUMAN BEAT BOX

"Most of those hits were literally punches. The officials let it get out of hand. Especially [with] Easley. A player with his ability and potential, I don't think he has to play that way. They were trying to intimidate us the whole game."

—Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mark Clayton, the rare player unscathed by Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley in the divisional round. Easley, the 1984 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, concussed both Mark Duper and Bruce Hardy during the 31-10 Miami win.

"Kenny plays the game the way it should be played. If [Clayton] thinks people are just going to let him catch the ball and lay down with it, he's going to be surprised. ... He got hit a few times. If you call that intimidation, he's going to get intimidated every game."

—Seahawks cornerback Keith Simpson.

MRS. MONTANA EVENTUALLY FORCED HIM OUT OF BOUNDS

"That's the longest I've ever run—except from my mom."

—Joe Montana, who scrambled for a career-long 53-yard gain in an otherwise pedestrian win over the Giants.

"It exhausted him. He didn't have the strength two plays later."

—Dwight Clark, not the intended receiver on an underthrown interception shortly after Montana's big run.

IF ADVANCED STATS HAD EXISTED IN 1984…

"We didn't believe those stats. They put the ball in the air in that division, and they don't see many running plays."

—Chuck Noll, skeptical about a Broncos run defense that held opponents to the fifth-lowest rushing total in the regular season. The Steelers ran for 169 yards in a divisional upset.

BEAT, INCOMPLETE

"I kept waiting for the call, waiting for them to give me the ball. You tell me what happened."

—Washington Redskins running back John Riggins, who got a single carry in the fourth quarter of a one-score divisional loss to the Bears. The two-time defending NFC champions ended the game with 17 straight pass plays.

THE COUGARS-SOONERS WAR

"I don't see how you can really determine who's No. 1, but I think we have as legitimate a claim as anybody."

—BYU Cougars head coach LaVell Edwards, whose team finished the regular season as the only undefeated school in college football. BYU, from the non-power Western Athletic Conference, had no wins over ranked opponents.

"It's a system, that's all. What can anyone expect of a system? Even when you'd like to think things could change in your favor, you're better off not concerning yourself with it that much."

—Oklahoma Sooners head coach Barry Switzer, whose 9-1-1 major-conference team finished just eight points behind BYU in the final regular-season Associated Press poll.

"I don't think we have to justify anything. I'm not the guy who set the system up. I do know that at the beginning of the year, Playboy picked us third or fourth in our own conference. Of course, that's not too surprising. Their circulation's not too high in Provo."

—Edwards, after a 24-17 Holiday Bowl victory over unranked 6-5 Michigan.

"Why don't they tell us before the game not to let the wagon on the field? That's tradition. We've always done that. [The wagon drivers] didn't see a penalty. They saw them signal a field goal and out they went."

—Switzer, whose team was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when the Sooner Schooner paraded onto the playing field to celebrate what seemed like a go-ahead 22-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of the Orange Bowl. The subsequent 42-yard attempt was blocked; Oklahoma would go on to lose to Washington 28-17.

"Don't you think he got beat bad enough the other night?"

—West Valley City mayor Gerald Maloney, a lone voice against a resolution that renamed a Salt Lake City sewage lagoon "The Barry Switzer Bowl."

THE 23-YEAR-OLD SNOWBIRD

"Last year I went home [to Pittsburgh] for Christmas and it was 12 below, but it was the greatest 12 below ever. There's just something about the place you're from. … But when I'm there now, it's funny, I start thinking I'd rather be here."

—South Florida transplant Dan Marino, preparing to face his hometown Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

"If he's just a little off, just once or twice, maybe we can get an interception. But he was not off. It was his day."

—Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Tony Dungy, unable to stop Marino from throwing for 421 yards and four touchdowns on a 63-degree January afternoon.

THE PROPHET

"We're just a year ahead of the Bears. A year from now, they could be here. But this was our year."

—San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, gracious after shutting out Chicago in the NFC Championship Game.

"They did have the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL, but anybody can blitz seven people at one time. We were putting as much pressure on them with only four guys."

—San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Michael Carter, who had two of the team's nine sacks.

AGAINST ALL ODDS

"A blocked punt isn't a turnover. I had to tell everybody. You lose a few customers. I was opposed to [prop bets] last year. They talked me into it. They're not talking me into it this year."

—Reno bookmaker Chris Andrews, who refused to take propositions for Super Bowl XIX after being burned the year before.

HOME COOKING

"We've got our meeting rooms, lockers, and training facilities right here. Plus, there's a good deli nearby."

—San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, choosing to remain at the team's usual practice field rather than relocate in the two weeks before the Super Bowl at nearby Stanford Stadium.

FIRST YOU GET THE DOLLS, THEN YOU GET THE POWER

"People with money can buy the tickets, but even people with money can't get the dolls. I'm at an advantage."

—San Mateo baker John Corazzini, willing to exchange some of his hoarded Cabbage Patch Kids for Super Bowl tickets.

GAMEDAY BENCHING

"We think Theismann will add a fresh dimension. This should not be taken as a reflection on O.J."

—ABC president Roone Arledge, who added the still-active Joe Theismann to the booth and bumped O.J. Simpson to pregame for the network's first-ever Super Bowl.

THE CLOCK STRIKES 13

"We started using tight man coverage with some bump-and-run to throw off Marino's timing. It worked pretty good, so we stayed with it."

—San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator George Seifert, who started off the Super Bowl in a standard 3-4 defense but soon went almost exclusively to a 4-2-5 nickel.

"I hope we get another chance. You don't get here too often."

—Dan Marino, whose offense scored a season-low 16 points.

"I was tired of hearing about their offense all week. This isn't the kind of team that talks and starts anything, but now that it's over, I was sick of hearing about that offense. … Bill had just unbelievable game plans for all three of the playoff games. And we had so much confidence in them that we didn't think, especially after we got out there, that anybody could stop us."

—San Francisco wide receiver Dwight Clark, part of an offense that scored 38 points on its first eight possessions.

"It was déjà vu. They saw what San Diego did to us and went for it."

—Miami Dolphins safety Mike Kozlowski, part of a defense that allowed 17 completions for 212 yards to 49ers running backs and tight ends.

"Don't put me on the spot. I want to be here next year."

—Kozlowski, asked why the Dolphins didn't adjust.

"We made adjustments, but how many adjustments can you make when they run 103 different formations? If you concentrate on one thing, they kill you on the other."

—Dolphins cornerback Don McNeal.

"That's just a very simplistic word. I don't think people honestly mean that. I think it's a simple term for someone who is extremely knowledgeable in their field. In my case it's offensive football. I've spent so many years at it that at this point I ought to be knowledgeable."

—Walsh, tired of being called a genius.

Comments

13 comments, Last at 01 Mar 2021, 2:18am

6 I always felt sorry for…

I always felt sorry for Billy Sims. Best player on a team that didn't have a good QB or D. Injured otherwise. Passionate when he had to sit out. He deserved better -- but only if if wasn't on Dallas, NYG, Chi, or GB.

10 For sure.  Everyone says…

For sure.  Everyone says Barry dragged the 90’s Lions to playoff relevance, but those teams had multiple pro-bowlers on both sides of the ball, as well as consistently solid special teams (including one of the best return men of his era)...they could just never get quarterback right.  

Sims truly did put those bad to mediocre Monte Clark teams on his back.  I think Doug English is the only other player from those teams worth mentioning.

7 Thanks for putting this…

Thanks for putting this together--must have been a ton of work, and I really enjoyed reading it. A couple of observations:

1. That Giants/Rams was crazy. To start with, the goalposts fell down (!), delaying the game. Then the Rams returner strolled away when the opening kickoff landed in the end zone, with the Giants falling on uncontested for a TD. They promptly missed the XP. They suffered, as mentioned, three safeties, all in the third quarter, two of which were blocked punts. They also gave up a punt return TD (Would love to see their ST DVOA!). And they ran the ball 13 times for a grand total of 8 yards. After falling behind 33-6, they got a late consolation TD...and missed that XP too. 

2. A Nik Kershaw reference?! I didn't even know anybody on this side of the Atlantic had even heard of him!

3. Between Les Steckel, the bus prank, Frank Kush making a joke about getting fired for abusing players, and Salt Lake City naming a sewage lagoon after Barry Switzer, you can tell people were a lot less concerned about offending anyone back then. 

 

8 That bus prank story is…

That bus prank story is absolutely insane.  If that happened in modern times, you could fund a small army with the lawsuit money, and the coach involved would have been launched into the ocean from a cannon.

9 Giants ST DVOA

Giants ST DVOA for that game is -42%. One of the worst single-game ratings ever, but not close to the worst. I believe the worst special teams ever was 2006 Rams in Week 14 at -62%. Two Devin Hester kick return touchdowns. Missed FG and aborted extra point. 9-yard kick return and fumbled kick return. Shanked punt from the 22 that landed at the Bears 45 for just 33 yards.

11 Thanks, Aaron. Out of…

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

Thanks, Aaron. Out of curiosity, I suppose they got credit for opening TD? I mean, they get a fumble recovery TD on ST so in some sense that should count, but quite literally any group of 10 functioning adults (plus the kicker) who know the rules of football would have scored on that play--the ball just sat there on the turf in the end zone as the Rams started walking off the field.

12 That must have been quite a…

That must have been quite a research project! I couldn't even ingest the whole thing at once---had to break it up into several smaller meals.