Joe Gibbs, the Washington Redskins' coach, last week cut one of his alltime favorite players, linebacker and former special teams captain Pete Cronan. A Boston College grad in his eighth season, Cronan was actually relieved.
"Four years ago I was cut by Seattle," he says. "What a shock! We had $20,000 in the bank, a mortgage, and I had no job. No way was it the American dream. My wife, Debbie, and I decided we'd never let ourselves get in that predicament again. So I started a small construction business and now I'm ready [for] the next part of my life.
"Playing football was a real injustice to my family. My wife was out carting our 2½-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son around the country. We were like gypsies. My daughter, Allyson, was the real victim. When Debbie told her the other day that we were going home, Allyson said, 'To the house with the pool?'—my mother-in-law's house in Watertown, Massachusetts—'or to 'Ginia?' She didn't know where home was. That was very disturbing tome."
Packer coach Forrest Gregg didn't hide his disappointment in Lynn Dickey when the 15-year veteran quarterback benched himself as a starter Sept. 29. Dickey was baffled last week about Gregg's reaction.
"He constantly sits around and tells the team, 'If you're not playing well, come tell me....' That's pretty much what I did," says Dickey, who admits he benched himself because he had been flinching in the pocket in anticipation of onrushing defensive linemen.
"Some people say it's the coaching. Others say it's the talent," Dickey added. "But you never see Don Shula, Tom Landry or Chuck Knox...ever get in real bad situations."
Maybe things will get better this week in Green Bay. The Packers, with Dickey starting and completing 11 of 17 passes for 126 yards and two TDs, beat Detroit 43-10 Sunday.
Joe Senser, the Viking tight end who was forced to retire in July because of a knee injury, has an interesting answer when asked what bothers him most in the real world: "Sitting in traffic for an hour a day," says Senser, who now commutes to work as a broker in an investment banking firm in Minneapolis. "Playing football, I sort of blocked traffic out of my mind. I don't know how people can stand it five times a week."
Tom Bass, San Diego's popular defensive coordinator, was fired last week. The Chargers were last in defense in the NFL, and Bass, who had been in the NFL 22 years, was realistic about the firing. "It's time to crank up the old word processor," said Bass, who has had two books of poetry published. "I'm rewriting one novel, working on a book about football for women and planning to collaborate with a friend on a play about football.
"I'm still numb. I feel like I've wasted the last 3½ years of my life here. Just the abruptness of it all. The defense was coming around. It will be good—not great—by midyear.
"I have a supportive family. But hey, I'm a realist. After having polio my junior year in college, this seems rather insignificant as far as I'm concerned."
Sid Gillman, 73, has come out of retirement—for the zillionth time—to join the Eagles' staff as an assistant to offensive coordinator Ted Marchibroda. The speculation in Philly is that it's only a matter of time until Gillman replaces Marchibroda, the man responsible for Philadelphia's Snooze Offense since last season. Eagle coach Marion Campbell denies that. "This will free Ted up for the total picture," he says. Gillman's first big job is to tutor rookie quarterback Randall Cunningham, who was yanked in favor of Ron Jaworski in the second quarter of Sunday's 23-21 loss to New Orleans after his two interceptions put the Eagles in a 20-0 hole. Cunningham was the team's No. 2 draft choice this year. The No. 1 pick, left tackle Kevin Allen, gave up eight sacks in the first four games and didn't even play Sunday.
Ashley has quite a hold on her father.
BRINGING UP BABY
Ashley Fletcher is only 20 months old, but she's seeing football up-close and personal. Ashley, the daughter of Bronco defensive end Simon Fletcher, a second-round pick from the University of Houston, has lived in a dorm at Houston and dined at the Cougars' training table, and now she is tagging along to Broncos' practices. It has been that way since, according to Fletcher, Ashley's mother called him one day last fall and said, "Come get her." Fletcher was later awarded custody of the child.
Says the 23-year-old Fletcher: "Ashley has brought out feelings I never knew I had. She has an ear infection, and I worried about it during meetings and practice.
"My first thought is to rush her to the hospital. Then I'll call my mother [in Bay City, Texas] and she'll explain that Ashley's just teething or something.
"When I'm feeling down from football, all I have to do is see her smile. She hugs me, and I know things can't be as bad as I think they are."
Dave Dalby, the Raiders' 34-year-old center, and Jan Stenerud, the Vikings' 42-year-old kicker, are the only active players on the NFL's alltime Top 20 list for consecutive games played. They're in good company:
Jim Marshall, 282
Mick Tingelhoff, 240
Jim Bakken, 234
Jim Turner, 228
George Blanda, 224
Alan Page, 218
Ted Hendricks, 215
Fred Cox, 210
Jim Otto, 210
Len Rohde, 208
Gene Upshaw, 207
Doug Dieken, 203
Merlin Olsen, 198
Len Hauss, 196
Bob Lilly, 196
Ray Mansfield, 196
Winston Hill, 194
Dave Dalby, 194
Jan Stenerud, 191
Harold Jackson, 190
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Quarterback Joe Montana completed a club record 37 of 57 passes for 429 yards and five touchdowns—with no interceptions—as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 38-17.
DEFENSE: Rams linebacker Jim Collins had 13 solo tackles, including a game-saving stop of Darrin Nelson at the one-yard line with one second remaining, in a 13-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.