Not that Glanville wouldn't give it a try. "I'm so lucky," he once said, "I should charge people 25 cents just to rub up against me."
Glanville practically owns Atlanta these days. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a picture of him lounging on a Harley-Davidson, his eyes twinkling blue. He wanted to throw a country and western concert for charity, featuring three of his most beloved singers, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Morris and Jerry Jeff Walker. Not only did the show come off last Friday, but Glanville also got to emcee it, hug everybody in Fulton County and sing the final number with J.J. and K.K.
Then again, the citizens of Atlanta were so desperate for a new coach that even Lou Saban would have been given a good, long look. The Falcons are a team that drew 7,792 fans for their final game of 1989. Sunday's was sold out. This is a team that endured the deaths of two players in automobile accidents last year, a team that has had seven consecutive losing seasons. The only notable thing the Falcons did before Glanville came along was get themselves named in seven paternity suits (two of which were filed against Rankin Smith Jr., the owner's son) in the last few years. "We may not be good," one player's wife was overheard saying, "but at least we're fertile."
By late July, Glanville had remade the Falcons in his own image. The jerseys and helmets were changed to black. In one "controlled" scrimmage against the Philadelphia Eagles, five fights broke out. At one point there was fighting from the goal line to the far 25-yard line. "In the middle of it all, I looked over at Jerry," says Atlanta linebacker Aundray Bruce, "and he was just smiling."
Glanville unpacked his Red Gun offense, his Black Wave pass rush and his homespun Clint Eastwood philosophy. "Anybody that doesn't want to go along with the program is going to get a comic book, an apple and a bus ticket out of here," he told his players.
Guess what? The players paid attention. The Falcons went 4-0 in the preseason. "This franchise needed a shock treatment," says defensive end Tim Green. "Can you think of a better shock treatment than Jerry Glanville? He's got players who have been losing for years believing they should win. It's crazy."
What Glanville might consider working on now is improving his relations with the Fourth Estate. Houston columnists ripped his lungs out routinely, possibly because Glanville shoved or threatened most of them in return. He had made a standing challenge to Houston radio personality Barry Warner to go into a room, lock the door and fight until only one could come out. Glanville once refused to answer listeners' questions on a call-in radio show until they agreed to cancel their Houston Chronicle subscriptions.
This time around, he figures he won't have run-ins with the press: "The difference between writers in Houston and writers in Atlanta is that in Atlanta some of the ones that write can also read."
Lord knows that when this past Monday morning came, there was plenty to read. Sunday's first quarter alone had three touchdowns—two of which nobody seemed to want to score—inside of 110 seconds, five fights, five fumbles, five penalties, a storm that briefly knocked out the electricity in the stadium, three smoke bombs on the field and a banner that read SADDAM HUSSEIN IS AN OILER.
You'll see it a hundred times on Football Follies, but here it is anyway. With the Falcons leading 7-0, Moon was clonked from behind by Bruce, a disappointing No. 1 draft choice in 1988 who may thrive playing Jerryball. The football went flying sideways. Houston running back Lorenzo White swears he heard a whistle, and other players must have too, because all the black shirts surrounding the ball suddenly became allergic to pigskin. Tory Epps, the Atlanta nosetackle, literally turned his back on the sacred item. Linebacker Mike Gann dived at the ball and missed it. Linebacker Jessie Tuggle started to pick it up but then decided the whole thing was too much trouble.