That thing all those dock workers, meat packers, icemen and railroad brakemen started almost 60 years ago, and which came to be known as professional football, is about to lead us once again on a thundering off-tackle 29 Oley Bob P-Series Power Ride into the grinding teeth of a 56 Stub-I Rex Change defense, if not a 43 Purple Sloop. It is going to happen whether O. J. Simpson likes it or not. Momentarily. Just as soon as the sport's newest glamour-boy-quarterback-hero, Baltimore's Bert Jones, gets his hair combed and his autographing hand taped.
But four long months from now, after the last set of linebackers has run the last "Bazooka" at the last "Calypso" formation, the chances are excellent that the same two teams—Pittsburgh and Dallas—will return to the Super Bowl, this one to be played at the Woody Hayes Memorial Funeral Parlor in Pasadena, Calif., otherwise known as the Rose Bowl.
During the intervening months of soaring incompletions and commercial pauses, however, it is altogether possible that America will not discover very much new about the game it has taken to wearing on its head like a VFW cap. More than likely, in fact, America will only be reminded that:
?After all these years 14 of the NFL's 28 teams still play in stadiums made for baseball.
?There are only eight certified, guaranteed NFL head coaches: Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, Don Shula, George Allen. Hank Stram, Bud Grant, John Madden and Lou Saban. The number of college dropouts has swollen to eight, and now includes USC's John McKay at Tampa Bay, UCLA's Dick Vermeil at Philadelphia and North Carolina State's Lou Holtz with the New York Jets. But the pro coaches are predominantly a cluster of escalated assistants who have yet to prove themselves. Plus one car dealer, Bart Starr.
?It is easier to place a bet illegally over a New York telephone than legally with the Delaware lottery.
? ABC-TV should be up for a community-service award for keeping Cleveland, Denver, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, New Orleans and the New York Giants off Monday Night Football.
?"Limbo" and "Cha-Cha" are signals for the Dallas defense.
?The quarterback breakdown remains the same. The once and future stars: Bert Jones and Atlanta's Steve Bartkowski. The reliables: Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Ken Stabler, Fran Tarkenton, Bob Griese, Ken Anderson, Jim Hart and Bill Kilmer. And the jury is still out on: Steve Ramsey, Dan Pastorini, Manning-Scott-Douglass, Harris-Jaworski, Joe Reed, Craig Morton, Jim Plunkett, Lynn Dickey, Steve Spurrier, Mike Phipps, Ferguson-Marangi, Steve Grogan, Mike Boryla, Jim Zorn, Bob Avellini, Mike Livingston, Longley-Fouts and what is left of Joe Namath.
? Lynn Swann may get to Mars before Viking III.