Martha Rogers, owner and president of Rogers Tour & Travel in Rochester, N.Y., really had no choice. Ten days before Sunday's Bills-Browns game featuring two teams with a combined record of 1-17, she was stuck with 45 tickets.
This is an article from the Nov. 12, 1984 issue
"I'd sold out four buses [180 tickets] for the Jets game September 23, and I'm sending three buses to the November 18 game against Dallas," she said. "But I couldn't get any takers for Cleveland."
So she decided to give the Browns tickets away...almost. She dreamed up a can't-lose proposition for her customers: a game ticket and round-trip bus fare for $25, with the money to be fully refunded if the Bills lost. Sure enough, she sold out within two days. "If I hadn't sold them, I'd have had to eat the tickets anyway," Rogers says.
Word travels fast in the NFL. Said Cleveland quarterback Paul McDonald, "Our new motto is: 'Make 'em give back the 25 bucks!' "
Well...the Bills lost, 13-10, and Rogers was out more than $1,100. "But I just may do this again next year," she says. "I'm a Bills fan. I won't give up."
John McKay of Tampa Bay is out, effective at the end of the season, and Monte Clark of Detroit is hearing footsteps. McKay, 61, the only coach the 8½-year-old franchise has had, resigned Monday but will stay on as team president. "It wasn't to be," said McKay, who is 3-7 this year and 42-88-1 overall.
Lions coach Clark, whose record is 3-6-1, may also be gone after the season. "If they can find somebody better, I'm not going to panic," he said last week. "I put my life into this thing, and when it doesn't work, it hurts. I do my best, and if that isn't enough, I'm sorry."
Sunday was a tough one for quarterbacks: Here are two battlefield reports.
After a vicious hit early in a 45-0 loss at Seattle, K.C.'s Bill Kenney, as he put it later, "wasn't sure what was going on. I was asking the offensive linemen and receivers what the plays were."
The casualties were higher at Soldier Field during the Bears' 17-6 win over the Raiders. Chicago's Jim McMahon was hospitalized with a lacerated kidney ("He could hardly breathe," said his center, Jay Hilgenberg), and L.A.'s Marc Wilson (grogginess) and David Humm (knee injury) also went down. The Bears' best weapon was defensive end Richard Dent, who did so well against tackle Bruce Davis that L.A. boss Al Davis, watching from the press box, ordered the "offensive" lineman to the bench.
How's this for an unusual situation? Tampa Bay isn't paying injured linebacker Hugh Green his $32,000-a-game salary, and the All-Pro isn't complaining because he figures he could wind up making money out of the deal.
Green hasn't played in five weeks because of multiple injuries he suffered as a passenger in an Oct. 3 auto accident. According to the collective bargaining agreement, the Bucs aren't required to pay Green because his injuries occurred beyond their jurisdiction. "It's entirely up to the club," says Jim Miller, spokesman for the NFL Management Council. "Very rarely does a player who's out with a non-football injury get all of his money. Some get a portion—enough to eat."
Last week, the Bucs put Green on the reserved/non-football injury list, claiming his broken wrist hadn't healed and that further injury due to football would make the team legally liable, especially if the injury were career-ending.
Meanwhile, Green plans to seek other medical opinions, and if he gets an O.K. to play, he may then sign a waiver releasing the Bucs from any liability. "Hugh really doesn't care about the money he's not getting; he just wants to play football," states Anthony Alfonso, Green's attorney. If Green missed the rest of '84, he could lose a total of $320,000. "He'd make more money if he didn't play and [successfully] sued his insurance company," Alfonso says. "He wouldn't have to pay taxes."
Quarterback Archie Manning started on Oct. 28 for the first time in his 1½ seasons with the Vikings—he was sacked 11 times in a 16-7 loss to Chicago—but was back on the bench for Sunday's game with Tampa Bay. "This has been especially hard on my boys," says Manning, 35. "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 for a while, that we become better people through struggles."
Some people around the NFL are getting tired of John Madden's second-guessing on and off the air. Madden spouted off about the 3-6 Atlanta Falcons last week. "There's no life there," said the CBS color man and former Raider coach. "I've never had the feeling that they knew how to play when they were behind."
"Madden has been to one of our games and has seen one more on TV," said Falcon coach Dan Henning. "I don't think he's on hand enough to make too many objective decisions."
Luke Prestridge wasn't bitter at all when the New England Patriots cut him last Saturday, even though he had recently become the first man in the NFL to kick 80-yard punts in consecutive weeks—an 89-yarder Oct. 21 and an 82-yarder Oct. 28—and had the ninth-best average (42.8 yards) in the NFL.
The Patriots had to release Prestridge to make room for All-Pro Rich Camarillo, out since Aug. 28 with a bad left knee. "I was a luxury," says Prestridge, who was picked up in a trade with Denver.
Prestridge even thanked the Pats for the opportunity to play in New England. "I found a whole new approach to football," he says. "I needed to know that existed. The Patriots treated me like a man first and a football player second. I had assistant coaches working with me—one on one—on their days off. If I never kick again, I'll always be grateful for the 11 weeks I spent with the Patriots. They changed my priorities, and they showed me that pro football people could be human beings."
FOR J.J., IT MAY BE SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT
John Jefferson probably won't be in a Green Bay uniform next season. Though still a starter, the 28-year-old All-Pro receiver may have worked himself out of the Packers' future game plan. Jefferson has occasionally had trouble adjusting routes on blitz situations, and offensive coordinator Bob Schnelker concedes Jefferson lacks speed and isn't playing up to the team's expectations. Jefferson's 1984 stats show 21 catches for 253 yards (a 12.0-yard average) and no touchdowns.
Recently, J.J., who's in the final year of his contract, has kept a low profile. "We don't need any more controversy around here," says Jefferson, who feels he's in the best shape ever of his seven-year career. He's 16 pounds lighter this season than last (down to 188), and stronger, thanks to a weightlifting program. "I'm a painfully shy person," he says. "I'm more relaxed on the field than anywhere else. I feel safe running out that tunnel, as long as my teammates protect me. It's hard to think about moving and having to make new friends. It would be scary." On other occasions, however, he has talked about playing elsewhere, perhaps in Dallas or Denver.
HE BARES HIS SOLE
Denver's Rich Karlis, who kicks barefoot because it gives him a better feel for the ball, has quite a few fans walking around town with one shoe off, one shoe on. "I'm flattered," says Karlis, a third-year pro who donated his useless right shoe to a charity auction, where it went for $305. "But for those who don't kick for a living, some words of caution—it can get mighty cold."
Some Karlis Krazies, shod only on their left feet, were among the fans who met the team plane at the Denver airport Oct. 28, after Karlis's 35-yard field goal with :00 left in overtime beat the Raiders 22-19.
Then, says Karlis, "There are the TV viewers who insist that everybody who isn't wearing only one shoe leave the room when I'm kicking."
How krazy can they get?
"Last year, when there was a 28-below-zero wind chill in Kansas City, I wore a thin sanitary sock and made a 24-yard field goal," Karlis says. "But later, a woman stopped me in a Denver bank and told me I was a wimp."
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Ali Haji-Sheikh broke out of a season-long slump with field goals of 40, 38, 23 and 27 yards to pace the 6-4 New York Giants to a 19-7 victory in Dallas and a share of first place in the NFC East.
DEFENSE: End Richard Dent had 4½ of the Bears' nine sacks, including one that caused a fumble inside Chicago's 10, in a 17-6 win over the L.A. Raiders. Dent (12) and the Bears (47) lead the NFC in sacks.
Tony Dorsett, Cowboys
Eric Dickerson, Rams
Gerald Riggs, Falcons
Greg Pruitt, Raiders
Billy Sims, Lions
Wendell Tyler, 49er
Marcus Allen, Raiders
Alfred Anderson, Vikings
Louis Lipps, Steelers
Curtis Dickey, Colts