In contrast to Art Still, the Washington Redskins' Alvin Garrett was carrying too much weight, but now he's back to being a Smurf. The 5'7" wide receiver ballooned into the Round Mound of Touchdown in '83—he weighed as much as 205, thanks to an off-season-long celebration of the Skins' Super Bowl victory—but reported to camp this summer at a trim 178.
"I went on a strict diet, and I quit drinking." says Garrett, who used to sign autographs J.D./89, the J.D. standing for Jack Daniel's, his favorite libation. "I worked out every day. I decided enough was enough."
There's a quarterback controversy in Detroit. For now Mike Machurek—a No. 6 pick from Idaho State in '82 who has been a third-stringer ever since and has never played in a regular-season game—seems to be No. 1. Eric Hippie, last year's starter, and Gary Danielson are being peddled around the league.
"I'm a wild and crazy guy," coach Monte Clark says. "You never know what I'm going to do. I'm like a riverboat gambler."
Machurek has started the Lions' last two exhibitions and has thrown two TD passes to Mark Nichols, including an 80-yarder against Buffalo last Saturday. That's a big turnaround from last summer, when he had surgery for skin cancer—two malignant moles were discovered during his training camp physical.
Meanwhile, Hippie is furious. He says play me or trade me. Says Danielson waggishly, "It's all Zola Budd's fault."
Raider tight end Dave Casper detests practice. One recent hot afternoon at the L.A. camp in Santa Rosa, Calif., Casper spotted three policemen walking toward him at the end of a workout. What he didn't know was that the officers were guests of team owner Al Davis.
"Hey," Casper said, out of breath and dripping with sweat, "if you've come for me, come during practice. Not after it."
Rumors surfaced last week that Howard Schnellenberger, who last spring bolted from national-champion Miami to sign a lifetime contract with the USFL's Washington/Miami Federals, would take over as coach of the Giants. Schnellenberger and Giants G.M. George Young called the talk preposterous. Meanwhile, Schnellenberger is telling friends he'd leave the USFL in a second if the Notre Dame coaching job came up.
Coach Joe Gibbs, who appears mild mannered, showed his Redskins a different side the other day. Gibbs got so disgusted at the players' lackadaisical attitude that he walked off the practice field 45 minutes early, leaving his assistants with their mouths open. At a team meeting that evening, Gibbs, so angry he was shaking, lashed into his players.
"[Leaving practice] was just something done on the spur of the moment," Gibbs said later. "I didn't feel like there was anything I could do to get us going. We've been hard workers in the past, and I think that would be the single thing to end up getting us—if we lost our work habits."
Preston Dennard, traded by the Rams, reported to the Bills' camp even though his agent, Joe Sweet, said Buffalo was the last place the wide receiver wanted to be. Dennard must be kicking himself. Last April, Dallas had agreed to send Butch Johnson and a No. 2 pick to L.A. for Dennard and the Rams' No. 2, plus a No. 5 in '85. But Dennard, an unsigned free agent, turned down a Cowboy offer of $190,000 for 1984. Dallas turned around and made the same deal with Houston for Mike Renfro, and Los Angeles subsequently signed Dennard for $180,000, then dealt him to Buffalo.
When Les Steckel walked past Charles Bradley, the ex-Seattle SuperSonic who is trying to catch on in pro football with the Vikings, on his first day in Minnesota's training camp, Bradley asked, "Is Steckel the head coach?"
"Yeah," Steckel said.
"Where's Bud Grant?" Bradley asked.
"He retired in January."
Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson couldn't wait to introduce New York Governor Mario Cuomo to nose tackle Fred Smerlas when Cuomo visited the Bills' Fredonia (N.Y.) training camp. "Fred signed a new contract [worth $2 million over four years] that makes him one of the richest people in the state," Wilson boasted. Said Cuomo to Smerlas, "We have special taxes for guys like you."
A Green Bay sportscaster recently asked Packer players for a one-word description of coach Forrest Gregg, who's a taskmaster. Said James Lofton, "Is cream puff one word or two?"
Last year, on the afternoon Lofton agreed to a reported five-year, $4.6 million contract, assistant to the president Bob Harlan asked the wide receiver how he wanted to announce the signing. Lofton walked to a window, looked out at a wet, gray Green Bay day, and said, "I guess it's too cold to have a parade."
America's Team honored America's team of Olympic medalists at its game against Pittsburgh last Thursday, and the Cowboys' Tony Dorsett was asked afterward what he thought of gold medal-winning gymnast Mary Lou Retton. Said Dorsett, "You know if somebody looks short next to me, then she's short."
Last week the Chiefs put out a press release saying defensive coordinator Bud Carson had resigned because of "professional differences" with coach John Mackovic. According to Carson, that wasn't true; he was told to resign.
"John doesn't like someone like me around who won't bow down," said Carson, a 13-year veteran as an assistant coach and the designer of Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain. "He doesn't respect anyone else's opinion. The only one he respects is his own. When he wants your opinion, he gives it to you."
Mackovic won't comment on the firing, and it appears he won't replace Carson. Instead, he'll divide the duties among the other defensive coaches. As many as nine rookies could make the Chief defensive team, and losing their coordinator could prove costly.
The Saints' hard-living 38-year-old quarterback went through an off-season metamorphosis. He dieted—no salt, no sugar, no red meat and almost no beer. He had arthroscopic surgery on both knees and undertook an exercise program.
"Because of the Kenny Stabler mystique—life in the fast lane—nobody can believe I'm in shape," Stabler says. "But I got scared. I'd had a physical before camp last year, and my cholesterol level was high. All I could think of was my father, who died of a heart attack at 45. I finally sensed my own mortality."
In June, Stabler married Rose Molly Burch. 26. It was his third marriage, her first. Rose Molly, a former Miss Alabama ('79), was a member of the first women's class at West Point—"she left after two weeks because she couldn't carry a rifle." says Stabler—and has an M.B.A. from South Alabama. "My life has always been so helter-skelter," says Stabler. "Everything is better since I met Rose Molly. I'm ready to retire after this season and have kids. I want to put down roots. You won't see me sitting by the fireplace, wearing wing tips and petting the dog. I'll still live in the fast lane. But Rose Molly and I will do it together."
Statistics by Bud Goode