Theo Bell was the first Buc to touch the ball in the '84 season; he fumbled a punt and the Bears converted the turnover into a 29-yard field goal. Said McKay: "That's stupid. It's easy to catch a punt. I used to do it."
Buc quarterbacks Jack Thompson and Steve DeBerg combined for a team-record six interceptions—Thompson had four, DeBerg two—but the chief targets of McKay's wrath were his receivers, who dropped eight passes. He brought up the 16 contracts Culverhouse had renegotiated before the season and claimed all the Bucs did Sunday was "renegotiate their drops. They're being paid big money. Do they think it's being paid out of the goodness of our hearts?"
Franco Harris is still in the news, even if he isn't in the running for Jim Brown's alltime career rushing record. According to several NFL general managers, Bart Beier, Harris's agent, has offered him to practically every team in the league—cheap. Beier's pitch goes something like this: We'd like to get the $385,000 Franco was supposed to make this year, but we'll take less. How does $330,000 sound?
The Chicago Bears let Harris down easily. Said Walter Payton, who gained 61 yards in Sunday's opening-day 34-14 win against Tampa Bay and now trails Harris by just 264 yards and Brown by 626, "I really feel sorry for Franco because he's a competitor, and he's so close to reaching this milestone. For me, it would've been a challenge to catch him before he got those 300-some yards. That's what motivated me during my [off-season recovery from] surgery and the preseason. Him not being there, that puts a damper on it."
The Cleveland Browns made light of the situation. "Yes," said coach Sam Rutigliano, "we might consider signing Franco, but the first thing we'll do is find out if Jim Brown will come back and play for us. Then, we'd get Franco because we'd have Jim and Franco blocking for each other. If that didn't work, they could be the halftime entertainment and race each other at 40 yards."
Brown says of Harris: "See. Didn't I tell you he was through? The NFL finally heard what I was saying all last year."
One G.M. offers this view of the situation: "When it came right down to it, the record was meaningless—even to Franco. He put money ahead of the record."
Meanwhile, Franco is down but not defeated. "Can you imagine me and Pay-ton in the same backfield?" Harris asked. " Jim McMahon would call a handoff to Payton, and I'd say, 'No! No! I want the ball!' Or, if I was supposed to get it, Walter would say, 'Give it to me!' "
San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana has flipped over Jennifer Wallace, the blonde cowgirl in his Schick shaving commercial—and he's making no secret of it. As Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle noted in his column of Monday, Aug. 27, "The best show at the Golden Gate Theatre Thursday night was not La Cage Aux Folles on stage, but 49er star Joe Montana and his blonde date in the orchestra section, necking so furiously smoke was coming out of their ears. Every now and then the amorous lady would come up for air, give herself a shot of mouth spray and spritz Joe. The patrons in the immediate vicinity gave the sprightly couple a standing ovation."
Bum Bright, the new owner of the Cowboys, is also the chairman of the board of regents at Texas A & M. The other day, Tex Schramm, the Cowboys' president, was kidding Bright about the Aggies' relatively easy '84 schedule.