Saints nose tackle Derland Moore had to admit that Sunday's game with the Falcons, a 17-13 win, wasn't exactly like the good ol' days. For one thing, Atlanta's backup center, Joe Pellegrini, was playing in place of the grizzled 16-year veteran Jeff Van Note (broken ring finger). "I didn't know how to react," Moore said. "I looked over the line of scrimmage and there was a guy with teeth."
Who's the most productive quarterback in the game today? Dan Marino, who has thrown 30 touchdown passes in 11 games this season? Not according to the Houston Gamblers. They say it's Jim Kelly, the USFL's MVP. The Gamblers recently sent letters—"As you can plainly see, several QBs are between Dan and the all-time mark"—and packets of statistics to the national media as well as the Dolphins' public relations department in an attempt to put Kelly's records "in perspective." Those records include:
44—Jim Kelly, Houston ( USFL) 1984
40—Peter Liske, Calgary (CFL) '67
38—Tobin Rote, Toronto (CFL) '60
36—Warren Moon, Edmonton (CFL) '82
36—George Blanda, Houston (AFL) '61
36—Y.A. Tittle, N.Y. Giants ( NFL) '63
34—Daryle Lamonica, (AFL) '69
What the Gamblers didn't send was a crate of apples and oranges to go along with the stats.
Tom Landry, who has repeatedly denied that he's going to retire after this season, is finding that his word is anything but law around Dallas. Three weeks ago the Cowboy coach bawled out his players for airing their gripes in the press. He said there'd be a $1,000 fine and/or suspension for anyone speaking out of turn. But when Danny White learned that Gary Hogeboom would be starting at quarterback in Sunday's game at St. Louis, White questioned Landry's choice.
"When you go into the last game of the season with everything on the line—and I'm not sure this isn't the same sort of situation—do you put what you need out there and not worry, or do you save it for something else?" asked White, who has bruised the collarbone in the area near his left shoulder. "That's the question that has to be answered. Our backs are against the wall, and we have to win at all costs. I don't imagine he [ Landry] feels that way."
The score as of Sunday: Cowboys 24," St. Louis 17; White's fine, zip.
For the time being, 49er defensive backs Dwight Hicks and Ronnie Lott have been forced to switch positions. Neither is happy about it. "I'm sure there will be a time in my life to play safety—when Dwight Hicks retires," says Lott, who has been an All-Pro cornerback in each of his three seasons in the NFL. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm still a free safety," says Hicks, also a three-time All-Pro.
Coach Bill Walsh claims the move isn't permanent. It was made, he said, because Lott's toe injury prevents him from pushing off his left foot. Walsh also wanted Lott, the 49ers' leading tackier the past two seasons, in on more of the action.
If the switch is permanent, Hicks stands to lose almost $60,000 in incentive bonus money by failing to make All-Pro teams at safety. Under his incentives Lott wouldn't be financially hurt. He's been telling Hicks to look on the bright side. "After all, there's playoff and Super Bowl money to consider," he says. "That offsets any incentive money because it comes with residuals that last after the Super Bowl, too."