Don't expect the Dallas Cowboys to renew the option on their long-running game show, Quarterback Feud. Host Tom Landry, whose own ratings have slipped, will probably trade Danny White or Gary Hogeboom.
"There has been such pressure on both quarterbacks," says Gil Brandt, Cowboy vice-president of personnel development. "Danny starts and the fans boo him. Gary starts and the fans boo him. If one guy is the quarterback, the other guy is always questioned, 'How do you feel about him starting?' Look, if you've got a job to do and the phone is always ringing, you never get anything done."
Many think that Landry believes the 26-year-old Hogeboom is the man to lead the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl, despite his 53.1% completion average and 14 interceptions. A strong closing performance by the 32-year-old White could change that—but he didn't improve his standing with Sunday's 8-for-25, four-interception performance vs. the Eagles.
Both quarterbacks wholeheartedly endorse the idea of a trade. Says Hogeboom, "A trade is really the only way to go." And White? "I don't think I'd be willing to give up on the goals and plans I've made for my career, which I'd be doing by accepting a permanent backup position," he says. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Landry put the retirement rumors concerning him to rest by announcing that he will continue as coach for at least two more seasons. Landry, 60, makes $500,000 a season and will be offered a contract similar to Miami coach Don Shula's—that is, $700,000 to $800,000 per year.
Last season, in gratitude for their blocking and pass protection, running back Eric Dickerson and quarterback Vince Ferragamo bought each Rams' offensive lineman an expensive Rolex watch. This season, Dickerson could break O.J. Simpson's single-season rushing record of 2,003—he's got 1,781 with two games to go—and the Ram linemen have been dropping hints.
"Some of them have been asking for Porsches," says Dickerson, who will earn $275,000 this season. "I've been thinking about Mickey Mouse watches."
But guard Dennis Harrah thinks maybe the linemen ought to buy Dickerson a watch, "because he makes our job so easy. We'd get him a Timex because that guy takes a licking, but keeps on ticking."
Talk about a gratuitous penalty. With four minutes to go in the first half of Sunday's Giants-Jets game, score 0-0, the Giants faced a fourth-and-one at the Jets five. Ali Haji-Sheikh came in and, as he was successfully kicking the field goal, Jet Kyle Clifton, playing five yards off the line, took one step forward and then made a halfhearted leap at the ball, which was about 17 feet over his head at the time. Flag! Clifton was nailed for unsportsmanlike conduct—a no-jump infraction, which was established this year to prevent a defender from taking a running start from beyond the line of scrimmage to get extra height on a block attempt. But Clifton never touched anyone. Not a Jet, not a Giant. No matter, the Giants got a first down and Giants running back Rob Carpenter went in for the TD. Giants 7, Jets 0, rulebook 4.
Doug Dieken, the Browns' offensive tackle, and Jack Youngblood, the Rams' defensive end, exchanged telegrams prior to their 201st game this week.
"Congratulations from the other side of the line," wired Youngblood. "The first 200 are the toughest. See you at 300."
Replied Dieken, "Remember what Indiana Jones said, 'It's not the years, it's the mileage.' "
Patriots offensive tackle Brian Holloway, who is a Stanford graduate with an economics degree, has sent his teammates back to school. "The percentage of players in the NFL who have their college degrees is very low—about 33 percent," says Holloway. "[College] players are asked to do something no other student is asked to do, devote 40 to 50 hours a week to football—taking hits to the body—and study to get a degree. Getting an education isn't a legitimate goal."
Earlier this year, Holloway, a four-year NFL veteran, contacted the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, and the school set up a two-credit course called Integrated Language Skills. Each Wednesday evening for the past 15 weeks, instructors have traveled the 20 miles from Northeastern's Boston campus to Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro and conducted two-hour classes for 14 Patriots who signed up—and who paid $338—for the course. It is broken into four segments: public speaking, writing, literature and economics-finance. Reading assignments have included The Old Man and the Sea and Of Mice and Men. The scholar-pros have also worked with personal computers (using programs such as Andrew Tobias's Managing Your Money). On Dec. 18 comes a final exam.
Says Richard Astro, dean of Northeastern's College of Arts and Sciences, "Never in my 20 years of higher education have I been so enriched. These guys have just come alive." They may not have had much choice. "Brian terrorized them," Astro says, laughing. In between classes, Holloway, who is acting as a course coordinator, gave out reading assignments from Fortune, Forbes, Money and The Wall Street Journal and demanded written summaries. "No way was I going to make the course a joke," he says. "I'd have been guilty of the same thing colleges are."
Apparently rookie San Diego owner Alex Spanos has decided to jettison general manager Johnny Sanders and assistant general manager Tank Younger. The man he wants as chief operating officer is Redskin G.M. Bobby Beathard. Even though Beathard has two years remaining on his contract, it might happen: Washington owner Jack Kent Cooke is no picnic to work for, and Beathard is a native Californian. If there's no way for Beathard to get out of his contract, Spanos will have to go shopping. One name already on his list is Don Klosterman, formerly of the Rams and currently G.M. of the Los Angeles Express of the USFL.
Scott Franz, manager of Smith & Jones, a restaurant in suburban Lakewood, Colo., found out the hard way what a popular guy Broncos kicker Rich Karlis is. After Karlis hit the right upright with his last-second, 25-yard field goal attempt in a 27-24 loss to Seattle on Nov. 25, Franz wrote on the restaurant's marquee KARLIS DOESN'T EAT HERE. The restaurant was almost immediately deluged by phone calls and threats of picketing and boycotts. "Some people didn't even bother to explain what they were calling about," owner Rob McClure said. "They just started screaming profanities into the phone. I was appalled."
Said Karlis, "I'd rather let it die." Said Broncos coach Dan Reeves, "I don't eat there, either." Finally, McClure got smart and added the phrase WE WISH HE DID.
Explained Marti Franz, Scott's mother, "I know how Rich Karlis's mother feels. Her son committed a faux pas on the football field. My son committed a faux pas on a billboard."
Oh yes. Mrs. Karlis's son committed another faux pas on Sunday when his 42-yard attempt for a game-tying field goal on the last play of the game hit the left upright and fell back, giving Kansas City a 16-13 win.
Have you noticed cornerback Frank Minnifield, the speedy little bump-and-run man in the Browns' defense, which is No. 2 against the pass, tugging on his socks between plays? "What a pain," says Minnifield, who's 5'9", 180 pounds and has 17-inch calves—the biggest on the team. "My calves just overdeveloped from all the running and jumping I've done," Minnifield says. "I've never been able to pull any kind of socks up. Forget boots."
Minnifield got a leg up on the competition by making his own socks when he was playing with the Arizona Wranglers of the USFL. "Every week I'd cut the sleeves out of Wrangler sweaters," he says. "I'd put red tape at the top and bottom. Nobody knew the difference.
"The NFL has a crazy rule that you have to wear your socks up," he goes on. "Well, I've tried to pull my Browns' socks up, but my circulation gets cut off. By the end of the first quarter, I'm cramped up."
So the Browns have had special socks made for him. Which has led to another problem. "But I wear a size 10 shoe, so the feet of the socks are really big," Minnifield says. "I can barely stuff them in my shoes."
John Riggins, the 35-year-old Redskins fullback who has always seemed indestructible, is showing signs of mortality. "I can't go on another year like this," says Riggins, who checked into the hospital last Friday—his second visit of the season. He was placed in traction and given heat treatments for his aching back.
Riggins said he also has shooting pains from his hips to his knees. He usually practices only one day a week—Thursday—and doesn't know until he warms up on Sunday if he will play. Before the Redskins' 31-17 romp over the Vikings last Thursday, Riggins couldn't even bend over. He didn't play that night, and now has played in just one of the Skins' last four games.
"I've had every test imaginable—CAT scan, bone scan—and everything comes up negative," he says. "The discouraging thing is that I've been resting, and it doesn't do any good."
Seattle's ex-starter is a model backup.
ZORN KEEPS HIS COOL WHILE WAITING IN THE WINGS
When Jim Zorn was the Seahawks' starting quarterback from 1976 to 83, he was consumed by football. But since Oct. 28, 1983, when he was replaced by Dave Krieg, Zorn has had more free time. Oftentimes he'll pedal his mountain bike—Zorn and a friend are currently marketing a model called The Raven—on paths near his Mercer Island, Wash. home. One day a few weeks ago, he donned a diver's dry suit and went windsurfing on Lake Washington in 30 mph winds. He also learned to skin a coyote. But his most rewarding activity is building miniature wooden ships. In his basement workroom Zorn recently finished his first, a cross-section model of the H.M.S. Victory, Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar. He had visited the ship in Portsmouth, England last March. Working with tweezers and tiny clamps, Zorn spent 120 hours on that project.
"I have a short temper, and I get irritated at little things," says Zorn, whose next endeavor will be the schooner America, of America's Cup fame. "Working with the ships has taught me patience—something I've never had much of. It has been therapeutic. I haven't felt a part of the Seahawks' wins. When running back Curt Warner got hurt, he went through what I did—learning the team goes on without you. You can't believe that. I've tried not to pout. I tell myself to wait my turn. I'm always ready—because you never know."
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg threw for five touchdowns—including a 51-yarder to Daryl Turner—as he completed 27 of 38 passes in the Seahawks' 38-17 romp over the Lions.
DEFENSE: Raiders cornerback Mike Haynes intercepted two Dan Marino passes, returning one 97 yards for a TD and the other 54 yards to set up a TD, as Los Angeles defeated Miami 45-34.