When Dan Henning took over the Falcons last year and insisted upon a one-back offense that featured William Andrews, critics said the rookie coach had too much talent riding the bench in 6'1", 230-pound Gerald Riggs of Arizona State, the ninth player picked in the 1982 draft. It took a severe knee injury to Andrews two weeks ago for Riggs to get his shot. And he proved the critics right Sunday, carrying the ball 35 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta's 36-28 defeat of the Saints.
"I tried to do my best to ignore the fact that I was replacing William," Riggs said. "I don't like the way I managed to get the starting job, but those things happen. William and I talked a few times, and he told me not to listen to the people who were saying we couldn't do it without him. Somebody had to step in there and do the job. I just wish William and I could be together in the same backfield sometime."
Following San Diego's opener in Minnesota, tight end Kellen Winslow apparently followed through on his threat to retire. Winslow wanted the Chargers to renegotiate his $210,000 contract in the $700,000-per-year range, but the team hadn't obliged. So, after the Chargers routed the Vikings 42-13 ( Winslow caught four passes for 33 yards), he told reporters he'd been near tears most of the afternoon. Then he dressed quickly and jumped ship, taking a flight to St. Louis, his birthplace, instead of the team plane back to San Diego. On his way out the locker room door. Winslow asked running back Pete Johnson, "Do you want to sell my jersey outside? Do you think anybody would want to buy it?"
"My second year here," said Gary Hogeboom, the new Dallas starting quarterback, "coach [Tom] Landry said, 'If I pronounce anybody's name wrong, just come and tell me.' He was calling me Hogenboom and sometimes Hogenbloom, so I said 'What the heck? I might as well give it a shot.' I told him, 'Coach, you pronounce my name Hoag-a-boom.' He said, 'Gary, when you become a starter, I'll learn how to pronounce your name.' "
The moment of truth came last week. At a press conference at which he was expected to announce who would be the Cowboy quarterback for Monday night's opener against the Rams, Landry was uncharacteristically nervous. First he said that Phil Pozderac starting at left tackle in place of Howard Richards was the only offensive change. Then he added, "In the quarterback area we've decided to go with Pozderac.... I mean, Hogenboom in this game." Said Hogeboom, "I've been called worse."
Landry says he's giving up. He'll go with Hogey or Hoag, which is what the players call Hogeboom. Or, Landry says, he may keep it simple and call him Gary.
Two years ago the Cowboys tipped their hands as to how sold they were on Hogeboom. Before the '82 season, Hogey, who was entering his third year and hadn't yet thrown a pass in an NFL game, was scheduled to make $53,500. In an unprecedented move, the Cowboys tore up his contract. He got a raise to $175,000 that year, $200,000 in '83, $225,000 this year and $247,500 in '85, his option year.
Bud Grant, who retired last January after 17 years as the Minnesota Vikings' head coach, was honored before Sunday's game in the Metrodome, which has a no-smoking rule. His final statement to the Viking fans? "Thank you for not smoking."
Tampa Bay Buccaneer coach John McKay had this to say on the eve of his ninth season in the NFL: "If we don't do well, Mr. C. [Buc owner Hugh Culverhouse] and I will sit down. If we stay healthy and don't do well, it would be time for somebody else."
Well, the Bucs didn't do well in their opener. In fact, their 34-14 loss to the Bears was a comedy of errors.