The President was on the horn. "You've given me some problems," he was telling Los Angeles coach Tom Flores, whose Raiders had just routed Washington 38-9 in the Super Bowl. "I've already gotten a call from Moscow. They think Marcus Allen is a new secret weapon. They insist we dismantle it." Certainly the Redskins, who had been tops in the NFL against the run, hadn't come up with an effective deterrent. Allen, a second-year running back, had been deployed 20 times for two TDs and a Super Bowl-record 191 yards. His most damaging strike came on a busted-play, 74-yard romp late in the third quarter. The Skins never mounted much of a counterattack. With 12 seconds left in the first half, their quarterback, Joe Theismann, launched a soft "rocket screen," as it's called, but Jack Squirek intercepted the missile at the Washington five and defused it in the end zone. The renegade Raiders had scattered the Smurfs, taken the fun out of the Fun Bunch and led the Hogs to slaughter. John Riggins seemed to have contracted swine flu, slopping up only 64 yards on 26 carries, although he did score a touchdown. "I've never had Hog before," said Raider defensive end Howie Long. "Know what? It tasted good."
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
In a season of surprises, probably the oddest was the emergence of 47-year-old Jim Brown as a self-appointed candidate to make a comeback with the Raiders and thus stave off Franco Harris' run at his rushing record. A man half his age, rookie Warner, took upstart Seattle—never in the playoffs before—all the way to the AFC finals. John Elway was a rookie surprise of another sort. "I don't want to be a jerk or anything," he said after Colts coach Frank Kush picked him first in the draft, "but...I'm not going to play in Baltimore." When Kush came to shove, the quarterback-outfielder jerked the Colts around and threatened to jump to the New York Yankees. The Colts ultimately traded Elway to the Broncos, who signed him to a $5 million contract. But in Denver, the can't-miss rookie couldn't learn his coach's complex offense or read opponents' defenses and went 123 for 259. That stat would have been great in a batter's box, but it placed him last among NFL passers. As it turned out, the No. 1 rookie quarterback was Miami's Marino, the No. 6 signal-caller drafted.
The most-talked-about rookie of the year was an outfit called the USFL, which played its first season before ever-dwindling crowds and TV ratings. Tampa Bay Bandits owner John Bassett uttered the USFL's first memorable line, though it didn't come until the seventh week of the season. Angered by a costly penalty in his team's 18-13 loss to the Los Angeles Express, Bassett said, "It was the worst-officiated game in the history of the league." As expected, Walker proved to be the best rusher in the history of the league, gaining 1,812 yards, and Michigan's Bobby Hebert was the best quarterback. The best team in history was Hebert's Panthers.
Mickey Marvin and the Raiders had the Redskins' number in Super Bowl XVIII.
In a disappointing season for the Cowboys, Tony Dorsett rushed for 1,321 yards.
Clockwise from left: Riggins banged his way to 1,347 yards and a record 24 TDs; Seahawk rookie Curt Warner ran up 1,449 of his own; Rams rookie Eric Dickerson also went on a long tear; Allen's 74-yard touchdown sprint set a Super Bowl record.
Theismann was the NFC's No. 2 passer with 29 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions in 459 attempts, but the Raiders found a hole in his pocket.
Jim Plunkett pitched 'em long and short in his second Super Bowl win.
Cliff Stoudt of the Steelers was sacked more times than Gaul.
Eagle Ron Jaworski (left) got off this pass but took a pasting; Miami's Dan Marino was the AFC's top passer.
The Raiders' Lyle Alzado, who didn't mask his desire to win the Super Bowl, shed tears of joy after the game.
The Redskins' Otis Wonsley wasn't the only one who pulled down Dana McLemore's 49ers; the referees' calls also hurt.
George Rogers carried New Orleans out of the cold by gaining 1,144 yards and scoring five touchdowns as the Saints finished with an 8-8 record, their best since 1979.
Wes Chandler Charged ahead with 58 grabs.
Doug Dennison helped the Chicago Blitz into the playoffs; then Philly's Stars came out.
League MVP Kelvin Bryant of Philly piled up 1,442 yards on 318 carries, but his Stars lost their twinkle against Michigan in the title game.
Michigan limited Louis Jackson and the rest of the Oakland running backs to 20 yards and won its semifinal playoff game 37-21.
Richard Crump of the Boston Breakers led the league with 5.2 yards per rush, but his salary for the year was half what Walker made each game.
General Herschel Walker rarely tasted victory.
Joe Klecko's Jets were touted for Tampa, but wound up in New Jersey.