Right now, it's hard to argue with the Tom Landry school of NFL coaching. Old Stoneface and his Cowboys are 5-1 and his former assistants who have moved on to head coaching jobs rate as follows:
Mike Ditka at Chicago, 6-0; Dan Reeves at Denver, 4-2, and John Mackovic at Kansas City, 3-3. That's a combined record of 18-6 through six weeks of the season. And until the Chiefs lost Sunday, all of their teams had at least a share of the lead in their divisions.
"I really can't take credit for it," Landry told the Dallas Times-Herald. "All of them are very good coaches. I knew that they would be when they left here. I was a lucky guy to have them around."
THE ICEMAN RUNNETH: Chicago's Ditka refuses to admit he was rubbing it in but why else would he order defensive lineman William (The Refrigerator) Perry, all 320-or-so pounds of him, to run the ball on the last two plays in a 26-10 win over San Francisco Sunday? The Bears made no secret of the fact they were angry over what they perceived to be gloating by the 49ers after their 23-0 playoff win last season, and Ditka was peeved that Bill Walsh used Guy McIntyre, an offensive guard, as a blocking back in that game. Or, as the Bears' Dan Hampton explained to Bernie Lincicome of the Chicago Tribune, "They ran a big, fat offensive guard in the backfield against us last year. We thought we'd run a big, fat defensive lineman against them." . . . Said center Jay Hilgenberg about Perry's runs, "I mostly just tried to get out of his way."
MR. FUN: A Dallas newspaper, in its "Where Are They Now?" feature on former Cowboys, recently featured Jack Patera, a Dallas linebacker in 1960 and '61 who later was an assistant coach in the NFL and finally the head coach at Seattle for seven years. What was Patera's favorite Cowboys memory? "I don't know whether I have a single memory with the Cowboys," he responded. OK, moving right along, Jack, what was your worst Cowboys memory? "I don't have one of those. If I did have something bad happen to me, I don't think I would have remembered it." Uh, huh. How about your funniest Cowboys memory, then. "Those are the kind of memories that just don't come to mind." Thanks so much, Jack.
THE BOSS: Music reverberated throughout almost-deserted Yankee Stadium one day earlier this fall, courtesy of "The Boss." No, not Bruce Springsteen. It was Yanks owner George Steinbrenner knocking out renditions of "Thanks for the Memories" and "My Blue Heaven," among other tunes, on the stadium organ. Organist Eddie Layton said he was setting up new organ equipment when Steinbrenner walked up and said, "Let me see this stuff." He then sat down, shuffled through some sheet music and started to play. "It was unbelievable," Layton said. "He knew what he was doing. He's an accomplished organist."
MANAGER MERRY-GO-ROUND: Latest rumors have Don Zimmer the leading candidate to replace Bob Lillis with the Houston Astros, Joe Torre a possibility there or in Chicago if new White Sox GM Ken Harrelson and Tony LaRussa can't come to terms, and Jim Fregosi moving up from Louisville of the American Association to Pittsburgh ... Harrelson last week was singing the praises of Billy Martin, but he now is just as busy denying that he wants the Yankees skipper in Chicago. "The Hawk" told a Chicago writer he thinks Martin is the best manager in baseball--"with a one-year contract"--but he said his goal is to re-sign LaRussa.
IN THE BOONIES: The Broncos always have first-class hotel accommodations on the road, but the hotel that served as their quarters in Indianapolis was a long, long way north of downtown, where the Hoosier Dome is located. How far? "This place is pretty nice," coach Dan Reeves deadpanned to PR man Jim Saccomano. "I think we ought to stay here when we play the Bears, too." Chicago is about 200 miles to the north. . . . Speaking of the Hoosier Dome, it apparently is having a definite effect on the Indy economy. Twenty-two new restaurants have opened since the dome began operations last year.
TOYS FOR TOTS: For future reference, mark the name of Eric Metcalf. The Texas freshman, son of former NFL speedster Terry Metcalf, is a definite threat as a single safety on Longhorns punt returns or at tailback in Fred Akers' I-formation (he was used sparingly there against Oklahoma because of a leg injury, Akers said) . . . And for further down the line: Anthony Dorsett, 12-year-old son of Cowboys halfback Tony Dorsett, returned a kickoff 75 yards in his first organized football victory . . . Miami wide receiver Mark Duper, who officially changed his name a year ago, recently had a son, Mark Super Duper II.