SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
February 14, 1983
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February 14, 1983


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The nation's capital has gone bonkers over its Super Bowl champion Redskins, and so has the hometown newspaper. The Washington Post. Though that prestigious and otherwise unparochial publication always goes happily overboard when it comes to the Skins, it clearly outdid itself in the editions of Jan. 30. That, of course, was Super Sunday, the day Washington would beat Miami 27-17 in Pasadena. The Post marked the occasion by running no fewer than 33 advance stories on the big game, including features on Coach Joe Gibbs, on the Redskins' favorite sandwiches—Dave Butz favors tuna fish with either relish or mayonnaise, which sounds more like the ladies' shopper's special than sustenance for a 295-pound defensive tackle—and on storied Redskin teams of bygone years.

To appreciate just how extensive the Post's pre-Super Bowl coverage was, it helps to know that the paper ran 22 stories on Jan. 20, 1981 on the release of the American hostages in Iran and 22 stories on March 31, 1981 on the assassination attempt on President Reagan, to name two other big news events of recent years. Counting photographs, drawings, charts, rosters and statistical matter, the Post's Super Sunday coverage added up to 1,767 column inches. That works out to 49 yards, 15 more than the total yardage gained by the Dolphins in the second half of the loss to the Redskins.


A year ago in this space (SCORECARD, Feb. 15, 1982) we reported that for four straight years the last NFL club to beat a Bum Phillips-coached team had gone on to win the Super Bowl—the Steelers in 1978 and 1979 (winners over Phillips' Oilers in the AFC championship game each time), the Raiders in 1980 (winners over the Oilers in the AFC wild-card playoff game) and the 49ers in 1981 (winners over Phillips' New Orleans Saints in the regular-season finale). Omen seekers please note that after losing to the Redskins 27-10 in the penultimate game of the 1982 regular season, Phillips' Saints proceeded to beat the Falcons in the season finale but didn't qualify for the playoffs, which means that Phillips once again suffered his last loss of the season to the eventual Super Bowl winner.

Another Super Bowl coincidence—or portent, if you wish—is that the underdog has now won three years in a row. And coming on the heels of the Super Bowl triumph by the Joe Montana-led 49ers in 1982, this year's victory by Joe Theismann's Redskins will no doubt inspire future Super Bowl speculators to put considerable stock in Notre Dame quarterbacks named Joe—assuming, of course, that any more players meeting that description come along.


You've heard sportscasters covering exciting events say, "Boy, this one's a heart-stopper," but there was one college basketball game recently that came close to literally fitting that ordinarily figurative description. During a 59-53 upset of Purdue, South Carolina Basketball Coach Bill Foster, 52, finding the action a little too much to take, complained a couple of times that he wasn't feeling well. Foster was examined by the team physician right after the game, and was rushed to a hospital. Four days later he underwent a quadruple coronary bypass operation. Foster, recovering nicely, is now back home but isn't yet ready to resume coaching.

By coincidence, just a few days after Foster's heart attack, physicians from the Washington (D.C.) Cardiovascular Institute conducted an experiment during a Georgetown-American University basketball game. This, too, was an upset, with American defeating the Hoyas 62-61. Before the game the doctors fitted American Coach Ed Tapscott with a portable heart monitor, a device about the size of a pack of cigarettes, with electrodes that were affixed to his chest.

Twenty-two minutes before game time, Tapscott's heartbeat was 68 to the minute, just about his normal rate, but at tipoff it had risen to 74. It continued to rise, reaching a high stress point with 13:44 left in the game, at which juncture American led by 13 points. Tapscott was stalking tensely up and down the sideline, and as the Hoyas' Patrick Ewing picked up his fourth personal foul, the heart rate touched 170.

But it was back down around 130 as the game ended, despite a furious Georgetown rally that turned the game into a cliffhanger, and it resumed its normal rate in reasonable time. The cardiologists indicated that, unlike Foster, the 28-year-old Tapscott, who is in top physical shape, was none the worse for his stressful evening. One of them, Dr. Richard N. Scott, said, "A pulse rate of 170 isn't uncommon for someone with a limited outlet for cardiovascular energy, in the sense that he is not a participant. I suspect Patrick Ewing's heart rate didn't go over 70 or 80. But Eddie Tapscott didn't have a release except by pacing up and down."

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