COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Rams, second best in the NFC West in 1984, and the Philadelphia Eagles, the least of the East, will meet in mid-America tonight, and they aren't fooling anybody.
If these are the Rams, where are Eric Dickerson and Jack Youngblood, their most famous players on offense and defense?
If these are the Eagles, why isn't Wilbert Montgomery running? Why isn't Mike Quick receiving?
The college-oriented residents here aren't buying--certainly not for $16 a seat and $4 parking--what is nothing more, and possibly less, than a typical National Football League exhibition game (Channel 2, 4:30 p.m. PDT).
Only 15,000 tickets had been sold by Thursday, although Rick Bay, Ohio State athletic director, was hoping that 10,000 more would drop by Ohio Stadium--a few, perhaps, just to see why the lights are on. It's the first night game, but not the first pro game, to be played on the Buckeyes' home ground.
Several members of the clubs' supporting casts will also be absent. Ram nose tackle Greg Meisner, for instance, and Eagle defenders Jerry Robinson and Dennis Harrison.
Quick, Robinson and Harrison are unhappy with their contracts, as was Montgomery until the Eagles traded him to the Detroit Lions this week.
That may be the fate that awaits Meisner, who has no contract and hasn't accepted what the Rams have offered.
"For what they're offering me right now, I'm not going to accept that if it was December 25th," he said. "If I'm going to have to go somewhere else . . . that's what I'll have to do."
Meisner's situation has been overshadowed by Dickerson's holdout and Youngblood's excused absence from training camp, but his position may be more difficult than theirs. Meisner is not yet into the big money of established NFL starters and also is a free agent. The only way a free agent switches teams in the NFL is if his last employer trades his rights.
As for the Eagles, at least they became solvent when Leonard Tose sold out last spring to auto dealer Norman Braman, whose sales at his various dealerships are projected at $500 million this year.
However, the profits from some 25,000 sets of wheels aren't trickling down to the troops. Some players say that Tose promised to renegotiate their contracts. Braman deals in names on dotted lines.
Braman, 52, has spent much of the summer in France but has kept in touch. He commuted to the first two exhibition games by Concorde.
Ram Notes The Rams are 2-0 in the exhibition season with wins over Houston, 7-3, and St. Louis, 39-7. The Eagles are 1-1 with a 37-17 win over the New York Jets and a 28-14 loss to Cleveland. . . . Technically, it's the Eagles' home game, but Veterans Stadium was unavailable because the Phillies are playing at home this weekend. . . . Ram Coach John Robinson said that Dieter Brock will play quarterback in the first half, followed by Jeff Kemp in the third quarter and Steve Dils in the fourth.