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In February, 49ers rookie tight end John Frank begins his first year of medical school at Ohio State. Bill Walsh's offense may be complicated, but Frank admits that football isn't brain surgery. "I do find it intellectually stimulating," says Frank, who had a 3.9 grade point average in chemistry as an Ohio State undergrad.
San Francisco linebacker Milt McColl, a fourth-year med student at Stanford, agrees. "The game is so specialized that you're forced to do a lot of thinking," he says. "However, it's not a life-or-death matter."
McColl ( Stanford '80) usually attends classes from February to June. Last year, however, he took three months off to coach the Bologna ( Italy) Doves pro football team. "I couldn't go to med school full time," says McColl, whose father, Dr. Bill McColl, studied medicine in the off-season when he was an end for the Bears (1952-59). "It's too intense. Besides, I like knowing I can do two things well."
Says Frank: "A surgeon friend told me, 'Love the one you're with.' I'm committed to football, and I don't care how long it takes to finish medical school."
Bad and good news on the NFL attendance front:
Buffalo, which averaged 75,142 in 1981, is drawing 44,937 in '84. Only 20,693 fans showed up in 80,290-seat Rich Stadium for the Dec. 2 game with the Colts, one of the sparsest turnouts in modern league history—for one of the least consequential games, to be sure.
But the Super Bowl champion Raiders have improved attendance by about 15,300 a game—up to 61,352; the Jets, having jumped from 60,372-seat Shea Stadium to New Jersey's 76,891-seat Giants Stadium, have gone from 51,510 to 67,030; and the Colts, having made a somewhat longer jump, from Baltimore to Indianapolis, have risen from 37,441 to 52,754.
Dan Fouts, San Diego's 12-year quarterback, ain't what he used to be, says Denver end Rulon Jones. "He doesn't seem to backpedal as swiftly as he once did," says Jones. "He's slowing down pretty quick, because he's paying for those licks he's taken." Before '83, Fouts was 45-22 (.672) in 67 straight starts. Then injury struck. He has failed to start in nine of the team's last 25 games. In the 16 starts, his record is only 8-8. On Dec. 5 Fouts, who has four years left on his contract at $1.2 million per, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.