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Kansas City Chiefs
The two most famous detached retinas of the year belonged to Sugar Ray Leonard and Joe Delaney. Sugar Ray hasn't come back yet, but Joe D. has, and Kansas City has a running game again. But for how long?
Delaney is 5'10", 184 pounds. A running back of Delaney's size used to be thrown back into the computer...to reemerge as a wide receiver or safety. But this is the era of speed, of artificial carpets, of indoor football, of running to arc light. Last year little Joe rushed for 1,121 yards and carried the ball 21 times or more in four separate games, and the Chiefs were able to improve their ground game by 760 yards and end up with a winning record for the first time since 1973.
The problem is, they ran Delaney inside and out, they swung him out of the backfield on screens, and they asked him to dart between the tackles. His listed injuries included knee, ankle and back—and finally the detached retina. It's a risky way to travel.
Ted McKnight and Delaney shared the load through five games last year, until McKnight came up with a knee injury. The Chiefs hope McKnight will be back sometime this year, but if not, Delaney's running mates will be James Hadnot, Billy Jackson and last season's late addition, Clark Gaines, all big guys but none an Earl Campbell.
Coach Marv Levy is of the old run, run and run school, but he finally admitted that his offense must be aired out this year. So he upgraded his drafting position in the first round to land Tennessee Wide Receiver Anthony Hancock. It was a nice try. Until Hancock gets the hang of the pro style, the best he can hope for is a role as the third receiver. The quarterback situation remains a toss-up between the runner, Steve Fuller, and the thrower, Bill Kenney.
The Chiefs' defense was a reflection of their offense—sturdy against the run (it usually happens with teams that face a high-powered running game every day in practice) but only so-so against the pass, despite having one of the NFL's best deep fours in Gary Green, Eric Harris, Gary Barbaro and Lloyd Burruss. The Chiefs have the raw material to mount a pass rush—ends Art Still and Mike Bell—but their sack total was anemic in '81. Point the finger of guilt at the linebackers. Since last season the Chiefs have waived or traded four linebackers who were regulars at one time or another in 1981. Only Gary Spani was immune from an onslaught of rookies. If ever a team's personnel seemed to dictate a switch back to the good old 4-3, it's K.C.'s.
Did you know that Seattle has won four more games than Tampa Bay since they both came into the league in 1976? Did you know that for the past five years the Seahawks have devoted their first pick in the draft to defense and that last year they gave up more yards than ever before? Did you know that the Seahawks have a new man in charge?
No one else does, either. The new man is Elmer Nordstrom, whose family owns most of the club. He isn't described as dynamic, astute or inspired in the Seahawks' press guide. He isn't described as anything. He isn't in it at all, except on one line, among the cast of characters. He's a modest chap, but he isn't happy.