When the Rams discovered that Vince Ferragamo, who broke the fifth metacarpal bone in his right hand two weeks ago, would be out at least until late October, they called around the league to find another quarterback. They ended up trading a middle-round 1985 draft choice to Minnesota for Steve Dils.
Coach John Robinson's first choice was another Viking, Archie Manning, the 14-year pro who backs up Tommy Kramer. According to the Rams, the Vikings effectively killed a deal for Manning by insisting on complete exemption from Archie's contract, which is complicated, plus a second-round draft choice.
At present, Manning's $600,000 annual salary is shared by three teams—New Orleans, Houston and the Vikings. If Minnesota had had its way, the Rams would have had to pay Manning about $950,000 in salary and give the Vikes a second-round pick! Dils pulls down a mere $77,000 a year. All of which might be academic considering the showing of Jeff Kemp, the Ram's backup quarterback. Last week in a 24-14 win over Cincinnati Kemp hit on 13 of 23 for 205 yards, one TD and no interceptions.
Howie Long, the 6'5", 270-pound, All-Pro defensive end for the L.A. Raiders, on how society views football players: "I want to stress to the world that we're people. I don't treat little people like poodles just because they're little. Why should people treat me like an ape in a cage because I'm big?"
Howard Schnellenberger, who bowed out as head coach and general manager of the Washington/Miami/Orlando Federals, says he doesn't believe the USFL will move to a fall schedule in '86. Or any other year, for that matter.
Schnellenberger also says the money behind the proposed Orlando franchise would have been unparalleled in pro sports. The resources of 30 businessmen—headed by entrepreneur Don Dizney—who wanted to be part owners were available. At least five were willing to put in $1 million apiece. "It was in the league's best interest to get that franchise," Schnellenberger says.
But, according to Schnellenberger, Tampa Bay Bandits owner John Bassett, who has the territorial rights to the state of Florida, was making it kinda tough for Dizney's group to buy the Federals franchise and move it from Washington to Orlando. Among Bassett's original demands: a $1.2-million territorial-rights fee; 2½% of the team's gross revenue for several years; the right to purchase 50% of the team in the event of a merger with the NFL; required participation in a Florida cable network controlled by Bassett; and the payment of all expenses in an annual preseason Orlando-Tampa Bay game, with revenues split between the teams. The deal still may be alive, but Schnellenberger says, "I'm disappointed. I wouldn't coach in the USFL. The direction and leadership aren't there."
Who is Bob Irsay? One place not to find out apparently is the Colts' media guide. Last March Irsay was flagged by the Baltimore Sun for putting misinformation in his '83 Baltimore Colts media guide bio. Some of that same material is in the '84 Indianapolis Colts guide:
•"He worked his way through the University of Illinois, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering."
The school's records show Irsay was a student there from the fall of 1940 through the fall of '41 and again in the summer of '42; no degree granted.
•"After his graduation, he served [from] 1941 to 1945 in the U.S. Marine Corps..."
Marine records reveal that a man with the same name, birthdate, place of birth and father's first name was in the Corps from October 1942 until the following year. (According to the Sun, that man also received a summary court-martial.)
Explains Bob Walters, who was fired on Aug. 26 as the Colts' p.r. director for, he says, among other things, not wearing a tie when meeting the team plane: "I wrote a memo to [Colts' vice president and general counsel] Mike Chernoff ahead of time, pointing out there'd been a few inconsistencies in last year's guide. Chernoff wrote Irsay's bio and gave it to me. He's a lawyer. I changed a few prepositions and pronouns. I didn't change the substance."
Irsay also told Indianapolis Monthly magazine that he'd played football at Illinois: "I was very light, and I had good speed of 4.5 or 4.6."
Irsay's name cannot be found in the school's football records, and, hey Bob, scouts didn't start timing the 40 until recent years. The popular time in the 1940s was the 100.
Houston defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville, after the Oilers' fourth straight loss, a 42-10 drubbing in Atlanta: "If we were a college team, everybody would want to play us for Homecoming." ...The Colts' Art Schlichter got into his first regular-season game in 1½ years and was sacked by Miami's Doug Betters the first time he attempted to pass.
At the Houston Oilers' silver anniversary party Sept. 6, back Earl Campbell was the high bidder for the jerseys of his five offensive linemen, proceeds to charity. He anted up $6,750.
Campbell says he plans to hang the jerseys in a museum in his hometown of Tyler, Texas. "It's a pretty nice place," he says. "I'm going to put all my stuff there some day."
What he needs to do now is put some stuff on the field. In the three Oiler games since the auction, Campbell has gained only 101 yards on 39 carries, a 2.6-yard average.
Then the tide turned. Ex-Navy teammate Kit McCulley, whose father, Pete, is the Chiefs' quarterback coach, was in his unit and Richard Todd, the Saints' QB, lived down the beach. They put McConkey through his paces. When he was finally discharged last May, he was ready: he's averaging 20 yards per kickoff return.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Minnesota kicker Jan Stenerud, 40 years old and an 18-year NFL veteran, made good on five of five field goals—of 35, 32, 37, 34 and 19 yards—as the Vikings edged out Detroit 29-28.
DEFENSE: Cowboy cornerback Everson Walls picked off two interceptions, including one in the end zone with Dallas only seven points ahead in the fourth quarter, as the Cowboys defeated Green Bay 20-6.
If you're being dragged off to a piano recital that begins about halftime, you might not be missing that much. Here are the top 10 teams of 1983 and '84 for making halftime leads stick (based on teams that led at the half in 10 or more of the last 20 games played).
% OF GAMES WON
And then there's Houston, which was ahead at the half only three times...and lost two of those games.