When Alvin Ray Rozelle finally discovered dope earlier this year and made an example out of the Chargers, it led to a joke: the Chargers don't need a coach, they need a pharmacist. What they got instead was Tommy Prothro, a man of statistics and theories, and considerable coaching success, who says he has seen more marijuana around bridge tournaments than he has around football.
Bridge is just one hobby. He sits around drinking Cokes and figuring out that the team that gains the most yardage wins 66% of the time, and then he says, "You don't need to have the football to win games."
Tommy has coached a lot of winners, and a couple of Heisman guys, Terry Baker and Gary Beban, and he is a droll man who could best be remembered for the line, "I'm the oratorical equivalent of a blocked punt."
Not so. Few better football minds exist and, being personally wealthy, he has the time, nostalgia, whim, interest and intellect to do something fascinating with the poor Chargers.
He has never coached a dull or predictable team. Which, as somebody has pointed out, makes San Diego a perfect place for him.
HANK STRAM, The Chiefs:
When Lamar Hunt started the AFL in 1960 and then hired Hank Stram to coach his Dallas Texans, we all laughed. For 12 years Hank had been knocking around as a college assistant. But in these past 12 years all Hank has done is win. He's won the AFL and he's won the Super Bowl and he's come up with things like the moving pocket, the double tight end, the camouflage slot, the triple stacked defense, and he says, with some proof, that his football is the football of the future.
"My offense always has the same face," he says. "We just try to put different makeup on it."
Over the years Hank has been blessed with good personnel, but it's one thing to have it and something else to make it work. Hank has made it work. And we all stopped laughing a long time ago.
BUD GRANT, The Vikings: