In practice before the Raiders' Sept. 9 game with Green Bay, Derrick Jensen was working as a blocking back in tandem with Frank Hawkins. "I'll give you $500 if we switch positions [in the game]," Jensen said, surely in jest.
When the Raiders lined up for Hawkins' one-yard TD run against the Packers, Jensen led the way, blocking. But later, with the Raiders driving for their final TD in a 28-7 win, the two pulled the switcheroo, Jensen carrying three times and scoring from the one-yard line.
Hawkins is still waiting for his $500.
There's trouble brewing in Big D. After the Cowboys' 28-7 loss to the Giants on Sept. 9, several Dallas players criticized coach Tom Landry and his staff for not having prepared the team for the two Lawrence Taylor blitzes deep in Giants' territory that resulted in fumbles by Gary Hogeboom. Reacting to adverse comments by tight end Doug Cosbie and backup quarterback Danny White, Landry called a team meeting and snapped, "That's a mistake on their part to be critical. I could be very critical if I wanted to be after a game. We're all on the same team. Coaches make mistakes just like players make mistakes. You live with them and overcome them. This means we're not where we want to be from a unity standpoint."
Landry defended calling 52 Rover Slant twice, although the formation left Taylor virtually free to get Hogeboom. Both times, Landry said, Doug Donley was wide open in the end zone, and with any chance to throw, Hogeboom would have had two touchdowns. "I could've completed the pass," Landry said, "and I can't even throw."
The next day, the meeting's details appeared in The Dallas Morning News. Said Landry, "That's team unity for you."
Bud Grant may have retired from coaching the Minnesota Vikings, but he hasn't retired from ripping refs. On Sept. 9, the Vikings lost to the Eagles 19-17. With seven seconds left, field judge John Grier ruled that a Viking had committed a face-mask penalty, giving the Eagles a first down. On the next, and final, play, John Spagnola caught a TD pass to give Philly the W.
Grant, who watched the game in the den of his Bloomington, Minn. home, was outraged by Grier's call. "This would've been my biggest fine ever," he said. "I would really have let them have it. This proves what I've said over the years, that officials decide the outcome of a lot of ball games. That call was just terrible.... Hockey learned a long time ago that you can't have a penalty call decide the outcome of a game in the final minutes. I wonder if the NFL will ever learn and quit making calls like that toward the end of the game."
The Giants' victories over the Eagles and Cowboys failed to squelch rumors that Carl Peterson, G.M. of the USFL champion Philadelpia Stars, and Jim Mora, the Stars' head coach, are ready to take over those jobs in New York, or the year-old rumor that former University of Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger is waiting in the wings.
Giant G.M. George Young is getting his kicks trying to figure out where the rumors come from. " Peterson started the latest rumor about himself," Young says. As for the Schnellenberger rumor, Young traces that to a football banquet last December in New York City. He suspects that Jimmy the Greek happened to see Giant owner Wellington Mara, who was sitting at a table next to Schnellenberger, who later happened to shake the owner's hand, and....