It was only last summer, but it seems a long time ago that Tony Dorsett was holding out to renegotiate his Dallas Cowboys contract so he could settle his problems with the IRS.
Now, Dorsett is concentrating on the Rams in the divisional playoff game at Anaheim Stadium Saturday.
"Football is football and I keep it in perspective," Dorsett said by phone Tuesday. "My personal life and personal business is (separate). Whatever happens off the field, I try not to let it affect me on the field."
It didn't seem to. Dorsett rushed for 1,307 yards, his third-best of nine seasons, and caught 46 passes, second-highest in his career. He is within reach of overtaking former Steeler Franco Harris as the top playoff rusher, with 1,325 yards to Harris' 1,556.
Coach Tom Landry said: "Dorsett is still the center of our offense," but Dorsett would like to do more.
"It's not that I wish I was somewhere else," he said. "I just wish that right here I could get my hands on the football a little more."
Eric Dickerson expressed the same desire, but most runners handle the ball less when their teams have to play catch-up, which both sides have often had to do this season. The Rams were 3-4 down the stretch, the Cowboys 4-4.
Dorsett said: "The encouraging thing is that our team has been able to regroup and not let those situations destroy the season. We've been able to come out the next week and show some character."
While arbitrator Sam Kagel ruled this week that the Rams and Raiders must each pay half of Pat Thomas' $200,000 salary for 1983, the case is a long way from being resolved.
The former Rams cornerback, claiming a knee injury, won the judgment 14 months after his grievance hearing, and he'll probably have to wait a lot longer to collect his money. Quarterback Dan Pastorini is still waiting for the $1 million from the Raiders that Kagel awarded him in 1984.
Thomas, while awaiting Kagel's ruling, attended the Rams' 40-year reunion last summer on crutches and with one leg in a cast, fresh from knee surgery--a convenient time to make a silent statement.
Thomas' surgery and Kagel's comment in his opinion that the Rams acted "improperly" in passing Thomas as fit to play would seem to support the Raiders' claim that the Rams stuck them with a lame player. So the Raiders may demand that the Rams pay the whole thing.
But the Rams could argue that the surgery was elective and that Kagel is unqualified to render a medical decision and, further, that the Raiders should pay the whole chunk because Thomas was their player.
Or was he?
The trade was unconditional--not real bright on the Raiders' part, considering Thomas' injury history--but the Raiders could cry fraud.
Then the Rams could claim the Raiders, in exchange, sent them a lame player, Monte Jackson, who arrived with a bad ankle and was soon released. On it goes.
In this scenario, the case could wind up in the lap of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, which means it would probably continue into the public courts.
It's unlikely that Rozelle, sitting in judgment between Al Davis and Georgia Frontiere, would settle anything.
Don't feel too sorry for the players on injured reserve who are missing the NFL playoffs. Most of them will receive the same shares as the participants: $10,000 each for this weekend's game, $18,000 for the conference title games and $36,000 winners--$18,000 losers for the Super Bowl.
Ram linebacker George Andrews, who hurt his knee in preseason, said: "I looked it up a couple of months ago. I figured it would be important."
Offensive tackle Jackie Slater feels lucky to have practiced against 6-foot 8-inch defensive end Dennis Harrison most of the season because Saturday he'll be playing against 6-9 Ed (Too Tall) Jones.
"Dennis has given me a good picture of what it's like to play against a guy that tall," said Slater, who is "a shade over 6-4".
Jones led the Cowboys with 13 quarterback sacks this season, a high for his 11-year career. Against the Giants three weeks ago, he deflected a pass that the other defensive end, Jim Jeffcoat, returned 65 yards for a touchdown.
"He (Jones) definitely has a leverage advantage with his height," Slater said. "You just try to stay as basic as you can."
Former Rams running back Lawrence (Clutch) McCutcheon took exception to a recent Times' article on the history of the Rams-Cowboys playoff series.
It mentioned that Dallas Coach Tom Landry insisted his films showed that McCutcheon didn't cross the goal line in the 1976 game at Dallas, won by the Rams, 14-12.
"My films showed I scored," McCutcheon said.
Offensive left tackle Irv Pankey missed Tuesday's practice because of the flu. Bill Bain, who lost the spot to Pankey earlier this season, took over. Pankey is expected to play Saturday. . . . The Rams will have a regular practice today, although earlier than usual because of the holiday. . . . Guard Dennis Harrah, who has been bothered by a sore calf muscle, practiced normally, and center Doug Smith went a few plays for the first time since he was placed on injured reserve with an undiagnosed nerve problem.